Erin Moriarty knew she was in trouble when she confused the lube for hand sanitizer.
“We were setting up one shot,” The Boys star tells Inverse. “I go to use hand sanitizer because I've been touching a bunch of dildos. And I go to spritz my hand, and everyone went, No! because I was actually putting lube on my hand. So that's the kind of set we were on.”
Let’s back up for just a minute. (Also, consider this your final warning: NSFW Spoilers ahead.)
Amazon’s superhero satire The Boys has always pushed the limits of... well pretty much everything. Season 1 began when a drugged-up stand-in for DC’s The Flash called A-Train sprinted through a woman so fast she exploded and then refused to apologize. Four years later, Season 3 opens with an Ant-Man-inspired superhero shrinking down, jumping up another man’s urethra, accidentally killing that man, and then being subdued by Karl Urban inside a bag of cocaine. But the show’s true depravity reveals itself in Episode 6, “Herogasm.”
Loosely based on the six-issue comic book miniseries of the same name, “Herogasm” takes place at an all-Supe orgy. The party ultimately devolves into a bloodbath after Soldier Boy (a PTSD-ridden parody of Captain America played by Jensen Ackles) shows up and blows everyone to smithereens, but we’re here to focus on the fun parts.
Inverse spoke to Moriarty (who plays the superhero Starlight) and Ackles, along with Karl Urban (Billy Butcher), Jack Quaid (Hughie), Antony Starr (Homelander), Chase Crawford (The Deep), and showrunner Eric Kripke about their experiences behind the cameras on the set of “Herogasm.”
“Dude, I’ve seen some shit”
“Jensen Ackles tells this story,” Karl Urban recalls, “where he walked on set one day and saw a cameraman eating a sandwich on a box and he goes, Hey, man, how's it going? … and he looks up to him and goes, Dude, I've seen some shit.”
“People were ripping cigs outside,” Chase Crawford adds. “Hair everywhere. It was intense.”
“I came in at the tail end of it,” says Anthony Starr. “And boy oh boy am I glad because I'm kind of a nerd, and quite prudish. The stories that I heard from people on set were quite a thing. It sounded like it was quite the event to be a part of. I’m glad I missed it.”
“Dozens of naked extras”
If you’ve been paying attention, it feels as if Eric Kripke has been setting the stage for Herogasm since the very first episode of The Boys. Every perverted sex act, drug binge, and dildo fight scene was paving the way for Season 3 Episode 6.
But as Kripke explains, he sometimes felt that he may have bitten off way more than he could chew.
“The shooting of it was insane,” the showrunner says. “You have dozens and dozens of naked extras that are simulating sex acts during Covid-19. The logistics are horrifying because you need to make sure that everyone is behaving properly and professionally.”
In a closed set, where a bevy of undressed background actors are milling about exposed to the elements while they’re exposing others to theirs, one can only imagine how heightened the concern for everyone’s safety was.
To make matters even more complicated, Kripke and his team had to adhere to a plethora of fairly new entertainment industry protocols to keep the cast and crew safe and healthy, while also staying on schedule and budget.
“We had multiple intimacy coordinators, we had multiple safety coordinators, and multiple Covid coordinators,” Kripke says. “You have to keep that so locked down and professional because what's happening is so insane. That was one of the more complicated producing gigs, period, with just the amount of shit you had to keep your eye on and the amount of things that could have gone very, very wrong. But we were (hopefully) on top of it.”
“I can never unsee what I saw”
The back-end of the episode devolves into chaotic violence once Soldier Boy does show up. Luckily for Jack Quaid, Karl Urban, Jensen Ackles, and Anthony Starr, they were too focused on their superhero smackdown — and ended up having minimal involvement in all the other slippery shenanigans.
“I think it was rougher on them than it was for us,” Quaid says with a laugh.
“I just learned to — constantly in between takes — just look at the wall,” Moriarty confirms. “Because if I look down, I'm going to make eye contact with someone's genitalia. And that’s just going to lend for an awkward moment.”
Ackles agrees. He may not have been a main player in the festivities, but Soldier Boy was still on the premises at the tail end of the communal sex pile.
“The hardest part for me was not making eye contact,” Ackles says. “There were a lot of very exposed people in my peripheral, and I think I stared at the ceiling most of that day. Some were too comfortable. Like, can we please get a robe on this one?”
In total, the cast and crew spent five lengthy days in the Herogasm house.
“I can never unsee what I saw,” Moriarty says. “I learned a lot. I learned a little too much.”
The Boys is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video