The Boys: Who Is Kimiko?
We asked Karen Fukuhara about playing the lone woman in The Boys, and what makes Kimiko different from The Female of the original comic.
In many ways, The Boys comic from Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson needed a modern touch when being adapted for television, and part of that process was giving The Female, the silent but deadly assassin that joined the vigilante group taking down the corrupt supes, a name. By episode 4 of Amazon’s eight episode first season, we learn a bit about how Kimiko became the mute companion for Billy Butcher and his band of misfits. Actor Karen Fukuhara joined us on set in September to tell us about what it was like to play such a unique character after making her acting debut as Katana in Suicide Squad.
DEN OF GEEK: What’s it like to play a character that doesn’t talk?
KAREN FUKUHARA: It’s a lot of listening because you’re not allowed to speak. You listen more. Even during rehearsals when I do it on my own or run lines with friends, I have to think about what they’re saying means to me and how I internalize that. And then how I try to show what I’m trying to portray through my physical being rather than through my voice. It’s interesting because it’s just a different form of communication.
Was being a part of The Boys very different from your experience with Suicide Squad?
Speaking as a green actor, Suicide Squad was my first real acting gig, so being on set with people like Will Smith and being directed by David Ayer — that was all completely new to me. I’ve never even been on a smaller set; it was just what I knew. And so I think being around talented people that are so professional and are so kind and are willing to teach me things prepared me for my experience here.
When I first heard from my agent that [Kimiko] was a non-speaking role, I did a little bit of research online before reading the comics and before reading the script, and I thought, “Oh, she might be a little too similar to Katana.” But then as I was reading the sides for the audition, I realized that there’s so much more heart — not that Katana doesn’t have heart, but it’s a little bit different because Katana knew her place in the world. And she did everything intentionally, and she had a sense of honor, and she had her own set of rules and guidelines in what she was doing for Flag was because that’s what she felt was right.
In this case, I think, we have The Female who is kind of forced into a world and forced into a situation, and we can see her throughout the series figuring it out as she goes and her fighting for her independence and her fighting for her way of life. And I think that’s very different from that character. It’s fun playing The Female!
further reading: The Boys Review (Spoiler Free)
What is Kimiko like as a person from your point of view?
One word: savage. She’s savage in every way. I mean if you’ve seen the comics, she’s physically so strong, so capable. She’s scary! It’s so interesting because in the comics she’s ripping off faces, and the entire series is very shocking to someone that’s never read the series before. I remember I was reading everything on the airplane on my computer screen. I was on where the supes were sent to Herogasm island — it just so happened that I was on that part, and I was on the airplane. I was so afraid of people seeing my screen! I was like, dim dim dim dim. I’m not in that part, but it’s just one example of how shocking it can be to a first time reader. And her abilities are just as shocking in the other scenes. So yeah, she’s a savage!
Do you feel like giving her the name Kimiko gave her more humanity?
I love that question! That was also my worry, just to be the protector of the group or the muscle of the group, but [showrunner Eric Kripke] and I spoke about The Female and her purpose and what she is within our TV version. He said, “We want to explore what she would be like if she wasn’t forced into a world of violence — and same with Frenchie — and how both of these characters’ struggle with their identity and their purpose and how they find it together.” And so I think that’s going to be an added thing that’s different from what we’ve seen in the comic books, which I love because it gives her depth.
She doesn’t want to be this killer. I don’t want that to be her definition, her purpose in life. She doesn’t kill for joy; she kills out of necessity, and sometimes forced into doing it. So it’ll be fun to kind of explore what her tastes are, and I as an actor am still trying to find it as the season goes on. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are definitely parts that we’ve shot with Frenchie and The Female where we explore what The Female would do on a Sunday off from work, off from a night of killing. What would she be doing, what are her hobbies, what does she enjoy? And I think all of those things, her tastes, make her a human being.
What’s it like being the only female in the group known as The Boys?
It’s funny because we decorated these chairs; the set chairs for the actors are usually really high. Karl Urban was fantastic and he came up with this idea of just having low chairs because they’re much more comfortable. And we’re all decorating our chairs as our characters would, and I have this part that I’m making at home right now. It’s one of those — you can get it at any party store — it’s like a party sign and it lights up in the back. And I’m getting one that says, “The one and only Female.” So it’s fun being part of The Boys as the only female. She gets a name, though, in the series, so that’s good.
Is it strange to go from a superhero movie to an anti-superhero TV show?
It’s funny because Suicide Squad was also a group of “villains” — I was not a villain — coming together to defeat the greater evil, and in that way The Boys is a bit similar. But I think The Boys has a lot more grit, a lot more of the sense of doing whatever we can to get The Seven, to get Homelander. There’s no boundaries! It’s so cool because you read the comics and you read the scenes where you go, “Oh, this is going to be a little too much for TV!” And sure enough, it’s in the script! So that’s… exciting for fans, I think, to see The Boys wreck the world that we’re in.
Thanks in part to great characters like Kimiko and actors like Karen Fukuhara, The Boys marks another successful adaptation of a Garth Ennis comic as his earlier title, Preacher, is set to enter its fourth and final season on AMC. With its irreverence and over-the-top violence, The Boys appears set to equal or surpass that show’s accomplishments, especially with its season 2 renewal coming before the first season even aired. You can catch the entire run of The Boys on Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service as of July 25, 2019.
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Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and coordinates interviews for The Fourth Wall podcast.