Jensen Ackles has been flirting with superherodom his entire career.
The Texas-born actor first became well known to TV audiences thanks to a handful of superhero adjacent roles in the early 2000s. First he portrayed super soldier Alec McDowell a.k.a. X5-494 on Fox’s ahead-of-its-time Dark Angel and then acted opposite none other than Superman as Lana Lang’s love interest Jason Teague on Smallville. He would go on to voice Jason Todd in animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood and the Dark Knight himself in Batman: The Long Halloween.
Of course, that’s not even to mention his most iconic role – that of the demon-hunting Dean Winchester on Supernatural, who alongside his brother Sam (Jared Padalecki) was only a costume and grandiose name away from being a comic book supe.
With the arrival of The Boys season 3, however, Ackles is finally doing this superhero thing properly. Not only is he donning the mask, body armor, and shield of a superhero, he’s doing so as the very first superhero. In the continuity of The Boys, Soldier Boy was the Vought Corporation’s initial attempt at creating a superhuman. Think of him as the company’s version of Captain America, only with a harder edge.
In advance of The Boys season 3’s premiere on June 3, Ackles was nice enough to chat with Den of Geek about becoming Soldier Boy, working with Supernatural‘s Erick Kripke again, and the finer points of beard maintenance.
Read our Q&A with Ackles below and stay tuned for more exclusive details about The Boys season 3 later today.
Den of Geek: How did you convince your old Supernatural boss Eric Kripke to let you join The Boys’ team?
Jensen Ackles: I called him regarding something completely unrelated, and I think I closed the phone call with, “Hey Eric, when are you going to bring me over to The Boys? I want to kick some ass or something. Blow a dolphin, I don’t know, whatever they’re doing over there. Maybe I could help [The Deep] with some water park shit.” And he said, “That’s interesting, let me think about that.” We had a few more conversations, and that led to this.
I thought that was very apropos, coming right out of 15 years of a previous Eric Kripke world and diving right into another one. That had happened just before season two, and so I had seen season one. After watching season two and knowing Kripke the way that I do, I knew that he would just continue to level up. So I got very nervous at that point and I was like, “Oh great, what have I signed on for?”
What can you tell us about your character Soldier Boy?
He’s kind of the original superhero in this particular world, and we did get to see a little glimpse into that past. That was really fun to play and to dive into a bit. Obviously, bringing somebody who has experienced that world into the modern age, you can imagine, it was very similar to Grandpa still being around. What would he think of someone like Homelander or someone like Butcher? It was really fun to play an old man, so to speak. I’ve got to be honest, the beard was tough, though. I’ve never had more products for anything in my life than I had for that fuzz on my chin. But it was an interesting addition to what they already had, chemistry wise, in the super world. It was digging up this relic, essentially, and adding him back into the mix. It definitely shakes things up for season three.
What’s it like being The Boys’ answer to Captain America and being a man unstuck in time?
This ties a lot into the Soldier Boy storyline of this throwback to the old guard, essentially, and these people who have been sent out to pasture get wrangled up and sent back into the fray. It’s interesting, because it was never something that I thought about in watching season one or season two, that there would be an old guard, that these people do kind of age out of being in the spotlight. I thought that that was a really interesting commentary on society and on a lot of the entertainment industry as a whole. It’s like you have a peak, and then if you’re lucky, you can sustain that peak for as long as you possibly can, but I think that was a really interesting commentary on this superhero world, that you kind of get aged out and you get forgotten.
What can you tell us about Soldier Boy’s old crime-fighting team, Payback?
I thought they all did a fantastic job. [Payback] is all about: “What about us? Don’t forget about us. We’re still valid, right? We’re still here, we still have powers.” It’s like, “Yeah, but you’re old news. You’re not in the news cycle right now, nobody cares about you.” And that was an interesting take. Again: it goes to Kripke and his team, of just finding a way to have a commentary on such relevant things that are going on currently.
The world of The Boys is a big one and known for filming a lot of extra material for AR marketing purposes. Did you get to participate in any “extracurriculars” like that?
Not to give anything away, but there’s some old footage of Soldier Boy that we see on TV. Creating that content that we see, we didn’t just shoot a couple of seconds, which is probably all we see [in the show], we shot the whole thing. We did the entire story, which is insane to me, because it’s days of filming. Phil Sgriccia, who is somebody who I’ve a long relationship with—he was on Supernatural and now he’s on The Boys—when he showed up and he was like, “I got you for the next week,” I knew we were going to have a lot of fun. I was also like, “What are we doing this for?” And he just goes, “Amazon.”
The Boys season 3 premieres June 3 on Prime Video. You can read more exclusive details about the new season here.