In The Boys TV show on Amazon Prime, Shantel VanSanten’s Becca Butcher meets a different fate than the character did in Garth Ennis’ comics (which quickly killed her off). Becca, of course, is the wife of Karl Urban’s rage-filled vigilante, Billy. His hellbent crusade against the Supes (and, in particular, Antony Starr’s Homelander) for what happened to Becca years ago. His assumption — that Homelander killed Becca — was shattered during the closing moments of Season 1, when the show revealed that Becca had been living in seclusion while raising Homelander’s son. As such, Becca had not been “fridged” but, instead, had chosen to stay hidden from Billy and the world.
Of course, viewers didn’t know exactly what happened until late in the Season 2 game, when Becca revealed that Homelander had, in fact, raped her. She had determined to lead a non-public life with the goal of raising a well-adjusted son. Yet as Season 2 showed, Homelander’s feeling rootless. He killed his mother figure and decided that bonding with his son was in everyone’s best interests, which put Becca in another unenviable position: witnessing her son being thrown off roofs while being told to “fly” and finding no help from Vought International. Becca also forced herself to push Billy away again, and it’s a real mess leading into this week’s finale.
Shantel was kind enough to talk with us about her character’s difficult choices, what it’s like to raise a Supe’s son, and where Becca and Billy (can’t) go from here.
What was it like to come onboard The Boys late in the first season game, and for Becca to create such a stir when the show was already popular?
Both exciting and terrifying. There are big shoes to fill on the show, but the best part about it was that I had already worked with Eric Kripke before, and that made it an experience that wasn’t as daunting and overwhelming as it can be when you’re a guest star coming onto a giant show. I also, during Season 1, came in and shot my part at the very end, so they had already been shooting for six months and had all their inside jokes and developed relationships, and I would pop in for a few days, here and there, to shoot my scenes for Season 1. And it felt like, “What in the world is this show that I’m in?” I didn’t get to read any episodes that I wasn’t in, so I had no idea, but I got to watch it and became a superfan, and I’m so grateful that my role this season is even bigger, and I get to be more involved in the world. It’s such a smart and entertaining show, and you don’t always get those. Sometimes you get really entertaining, and sometimes you get really dark and intelligent, and I think that The Boys challenges us as well as entertains us.
You’re isolated from almost adult but Homelander for most of your scenes. Yet Becca choosing to hide and raise her son alone makes her pretty selfless.
I feel so protective of the characters I play, even if they’re imperfect humans that I can’t really read people’s opinions and commentary because I realize that we all have a different perspective. The hopeless romantic in me, for a moment, didn’t really understand why she wouldn’t choose her soulmate and the love of her life. They’re so meant to be together and save each other, and then I realize during conversations with Eric Kripke, as he said, that I “was raising the second coming of Christ, basically.” This boy that would hopefully redeem Supes, and doing that through mothering and nurturing and being selfless. And I was reminded of that because, as humans, I have my own selfish moment of wanting Becca to be able to have it all and watching her didn’t feel fair. And there was a lot in Episode 4 that ripped my heart out.
The idea of Becca hiding out for years, even from Butcher, to raise Homelander’s son, man, that is rough.
And to play the turmoil that was happening (over a season in a half) in three scenes during one episode was really tough. But I hope that I did it justice, and for somebody who chooses her child and chooses mankind, if you will, because she’s truly trying to undo the injustice of what happened to her and redeem Supes for Vought. And show that there’s a different way, that teaching through nurturing and empathy and compassion, we can choose superheroes that hopefully will use their powers for good and not be so egocentric.
The young actor, Cameron Crovetti, who plays your son — he kind-of specializes in shows (Big Little Lies, Dirty John) where a lot of grown-ups are behaving badly. How does one navigate keeping him levelheaded on a show like The Boys?
[Laughs] It’s so interesting, I remember when they asked him to say the F-word, and we were all like, “Can we do that… is that okay?” His mom was like, “I think he’s seen and heard worse!” I always feel protective of the kids I work with. This is not the first kid that I’ve had, of course, I’ve had many sons. I don’t think I’ve had a daughter on shows, and there’s a part of me that wants to mother and be like, “In real life, we don’t say this, right?” And make sure to be on my best behavior around them, but luckily, everyone is very aware that there’s a kid on set and isn’t cussing and those types of things.
Cameron also witnessed Meryl Streep’s bloodcurdling scream in Big Little Lies, so he must be well-adjusted to handle that stuff.
Yes, and I think it’s important to grow a bond. We would shoot a lot of our scenes with Antony, myself, and Cameron, and we all would sit in the basement together. And whether he was reading a book or studying, you kind-of just get involved because there’s a bond in that way or talk about movies or shows that they’re watching. You just become more familiar to them, and it just creates something deeper, but their parents are already on set, and also, Cameron is such a great kid. He’s fantastic and up for anything.
Well, Becca could use a vacation. If she could journey into another superhero realm, where would you want her to visit?
Oh, gracious. Oh my. I mean, to be honest, I would like to put her into the Marvel Civil War movie, and I would want her to have a cape and be the 30-something mom and not a 20-year-old but somebody who’s lived life and has her superpowers. Listen, I would be Wonder Woman’s sidekick any day. I’m totally fine with that.
Which side in Civil War, Tony Stark or Cap?
I would like to think Tony Stark because I like his sarcasm and his no-BS approach to things. He doesn’t take it too seriously.
Yeah, he and Billy Butcher do have those things in common.
I’d like to explore that side and see that Becca used to be that way. I saw something where people were like, “How were Becca and Butcher ever together?” And it’s hard because we only got these really small glimpses into what their life was, but I think she was fiery and feisty and challenged him, and now, this is ten years later. When we think about what we were like ten years ago, we were different. Now she has this experience of this bubble that she has to live in, and the persona that she has to put on is not necessarily, authentically, who she is. Yet it’s best for her son, and it’s a sacrifice that she makes. Listen, she would love to be smoking pot and eating Cheetos on the couch every day.
Lady, I’m with her on that dream. We should all do that right now.
Unfortunately, Becca can’t do that, but I think that’s something that we missed out on seeing, which was the past with her and Butcher and why they connected. But also seeing how much she really did sacrifice. It wasn’t just the love of her life; it was everything that she loved as well.
Amazon’s ‘The Boys’ streams episodes each Friday with the season finale coming on October 9.