In an entertainment industry where writers strain to make villains sympathetic and playing an anti-hero is considered the edgiest thing an actor can do, Antony Starr plays the superpowered Homelander from The Boys with a full-on psychopathic relish that makes fans shudder. Audiences and critic alike have showered praise on the actor for how expertly he portrays the irredeemable vileness of the character, but as Starr tells it, he almost passed on the role when it first came to him.

"My reps sent me the script through and said this is one we should look at. I was busy, I was working pretty much every hour under god sent and they called me a week later and said, "Have you read it?" I was like, "No, leave me alone - I'm busy." 'So I didn't look at it for a week and a half and then I saw it was a superhero thing and I thought they're not going to pick me anyway, I'm not made for that. Henry Cavill's 12 feet tall, built like a 12 foot brick s**t house and he's wonderful, handsome and charming - I'm not going to get that."
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Back when Amazon was setting up a live-action adaptation of Garth Ennis' gory, twisted comic book series about a group of superheroes who are as immoral as the criminals they claim to be stopping, Hollywood's conception of superheroes ranged from the quippy, sunny MCU to the dark and angsty, but ultimately just as safe, DCEU.

The prospect of playing a Superman pastiche who cheerfully murders innocents, leaves a plane full of people to plummet to their deaths, and sexually harasses his teammates was so foreign to Starr that he sent his audition tape for the role almost as an afterthought, and only later realized how different the world of The Boys was from Henry Cavill's Superman.

"They were hassling so I sat in my dressing room, picked a spot on my iPad and filmed this audition almost out of spite for my reps. Then it got to Eric and [my reps] said, "They loved it!" which was surprising. 'Then I thought I'd better actually read it. I read it realizedised this is actually really good and worth putting some time and energy into. I got the behind-the-scenes guys to record my screen test in a basement that looks like the Blair Witch would get you. 'Before I knew it I was donning spandex."

Fortunately, the actor came around to the idea of doing a superhero show, and playing the lead role as an impenitent monster that the audience loves to hate. It is a testament to Starr's acting skills that even after all the atrocities fans have seen Homelander commit with a cheerful smile, they are able to empathize with the character to a certain extent, and see his descent into villainy as a result of his troubled upbringing as part of a clinical experiment. This news originated at Metro.

Neeraj Chand