Actor Chace Crawford has spent three season on Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” developing the equally flawed and narcissistic superhero known to fans as the Deep. After a “Me Too” level transgression that leads to his cancellation in the series’ pilot, the Deep takes a darkly comedic road to regaining his coveted membership in the superhero group known as “The Seven.”
In season three, the Deep is back in Vought tower as a member of the Seven, but Homelander proves to be even more tyrannical than in previous seasons, pushing the Deep far beyond his comfort zone. “There’s always this underlying fear with Homelander, like The Deep is walking on eggshells,” shares Crawford. “There’s the fear of not wanting to be killed, but also the validation of wanting to be in Homelander’s good graces because without Homelander and this idea of The Seven, The Deep doesn’t have purpose… he’s just the fish guy.”
The Deep has had his fair share of aquatic embarrassments, from his failed attempt to save a dolphin to eating a sea creature friend and ultimately the erotic entanglements with Ambrosia, his Octopus lover. Crawford fully commits to the comedic beats of the series, whether it involves prosthetic gils or shaving his head.
“Kripke was asking me if I was cool with getting my head shaved on camera,” recalls Crawford. “We could only do one take… I had three cameras on me, and I just did it. And for season two, I just kept it buzzed the whole time.”
Crawford spoke to Awards Focus about the Deep’s most absurd moments, being on set for the much talked about “Herogasm” episode, and how he feels about the Deep becoming a killer at the close of the latest season.
Awards Focus: I’m always amazed at how this show continues to get better and better with each season. With season three, the Deep is finally back in the Seven and exploring this weird power dynamic with Homelander while also balancing the power dynamic with his wife, Cassandra. Did you ever envision this arc for the Deep when you initially read for the role?
Chace Crawford: When I read for The Deep it was a scene in a therapist’s office and I loved it. One minute, I’m playing with the local lobster down by the pier and in the next moment, it’s a starkly different Deep who destroys Starlight’s dreams when she first joins the Seven.
I had already gotten the role when the writers added that controversial scene with Starlight in the pilot. The show is an incredible juxtaposition of tone… one minute I’m saving dolphins and then Homelander is letting a plane crash into the ocean after botching the rescue.
There are so much absurd moments with The Deep, but the writers always want us to play it real. With my character being so comedic, I like to lean into that comedy and they’ll pull me back if I need to keep it grounded.
With the Church of the Collective in season two, I never would’ve guessed that the Deep would be fighting alcoholism, and I could never have seen where that arc was going to go. It was amazing, but the only downside was I never got to work with the main cast. Like the mushroom trip scene where my gils talk to me, I did that by myself. (VIDEO BELOW)
Luckily, in season three I got to be with the main cast again and things got even crazier in The Seven. There were definitely moments this year where I’d call Kripke and ask how we were gonna film this (laughs).
AF: Speaking of grounded, the scene the octopus, and I mean the tiny Octopus on the dinner plate, we’ll get to Ambrosia later.
Crawford: Oh, Ambrosia (laughs).
AF: Yeah, Ambrosia we’ll definitely cover, but in this particular scene we see Homelander forcing the Deep to eat this squid that’s begging for its life… it was just so heart wrenching and wrong! Once you put it in your mouth, the squid fights to escape and its tentacles cling against your cheeks. It’s horrific to watch and I’m not sure why Homelander wanted to torture the Deep in that way.
Crawford: Yeah, it was a loyalty test, and The Deep is obviously being torn between doing as Homelander says, or facing his laser eyes. There’s always this underlying fear with Homelander, like The Deep is walking on eggshells. So, there’s the fear of not wanting to be killed, but also the validation of wanting to be in Homelander’s good graces. Because without Homelander and this idea of The Seven, The Deep doesn’t have purpose… he’s just the fish guy.
The loyalty test is crossing these personal boundaries so Homelander can see just how far this pathetic underling is willing to go. So there’s that, but the VFX crew deserve praise for that sequence.
AF: So how did you shoot the octopus-ingesting scene?
Crawford: There were a few different things. There was a whole fake octopus, and then just the head with the chopsticks. It was like a mochi ball filled with chocolate syrup. Still kinda gross, but it wasn’t an actual octopus. They also taped strings to my face and mouth to get the tentacles visual.
AF: Speaking of post production and prosthetics, talk about your gills. Especially during that intimate scene at the end of season one when the Deep is excommunicated to Ohio and he runs into a very liberated, kink-friendly individual. I would argue that you get violated by the local townswoman (laughs).
Crawford: Oh, man, I read that, and thought it was hilarious. And also it is a comeuppance as well for The Deep following what he did to Starlight in the pilot. It was pretty difficult. They made a entire fake, prosthetic torso so we could have something to work with on the couch.
On the day, it was incredibly hot shooting in this tiny apartment, and they had me laying underneath this fake torso. It required two people to pump it to make the gills move. That day was a lot, but it turned out well. Everyone in the cast hates the gills, but I think they’re gorgeous (laughs).
AF: Jumping back to season three, when the Deep fires most of the criminal analytics staff, it was fun to see how the power went to his head and how certain insecurities come out when a position of authority is achieved. It’s very similar to the behavior that Homelander exhibited when he took control of Vaught and got embarrassed at the board meeting.
Crawford: Totally. I was like saying, “Enhance, enhance,” yelling at the computer like a tyrant. That whole arc was great as I got to work more with Colby (Minifie), who plays Ashley. She was just fantastic and even though it’s serious subject matter, she went for it.
AF: Speaking of Colby, can you describe shooting the scene in the season three finale where Ashley, the Deep, and A-Train were on the sofa getting grilled by Homelander?
It’s the finale so anyone can go at that point and Homelander had just killed Black Noir for hiding something from him. After laying into everyone verbally Homelander goes after Ashley and demands that she remove her wig. That moment is so powerful, when you see what the stress of the job has done to her.
Crawford: I think that might’ve been one of the last scenes I filmed, with it being the last episode and all. I mean it was just horrifying. The prosthetics were great and her performance was great. That was intense, especially with the Black Noir reveal and Antony (Starr) commanding the room.
AF: The very last scene with the Deep shows him drowning the potential future Vice President in his home pool. What was your reaction when you found out your character would be doing that for Homelander and — by proxy — Victoria Neuman?
Crawford: I thought that was very interesting. Right away, I was thinking how this would play out in the next season, which I obviously can’t talk about. But I was thinking, “Wow, he’s really crossed a line.” The final loyalty test, or maybe even the beginning of the test. This sets in stone him going down a dark path.
AF: The Deep always had some form of moral compass and his path to redemption was a major season two arc. Is that person gone now?
Crawford: Right, there was that arc where he wants to be redeemed. You can kind of see some guilt and remorse in the Deep, but that could just be a ploy to get back in the Seven. He doesn’t want to return to Sandusky, Ohio, that’s for sure. And now that he’s back in the Seven, he’s desperate to stay, and that means he’s gonna do anything Homelander tells him to do.
AF: Speaking of Ohio, the scene where you shaved your head in Season 1, it really spoke volumes to how the character was fractured emotionally and how much his identity was tied to being in the spotlight of the Seven. What was your reaction to reading that?
Crawford: I thought it was great. The head-shaving moment was like a breaking point. We usually get all the scripts at the start, but the finale scripts, we don’t get them until later. So when I got it, Kripke was asking me if I was cool with getting my head shaved on camera. It was something I always wanted to do. Except in the script, they also had me shaving my eyebrows, and that’s where I drew the line. With the head shaving, we could only do one take and there’s no dialogue. I had three cameras on me, and I just did it. And for season two, I just kept it buzzed the whole time.
AF: Does the suit wear on you? Who complains the most about their superhero suit?
Crawford: Anthony (Starr) has the most complaints. But I feel him, because his suit is much more complex, and he gets really hot in it. My suit’s not bad, but after fourteen hour days, it does wear on you; it rubs in places that it shouldn’t. Mine is just a wetsuit, but overall comfortable. And I just love putting it back on, getting into the new season, and becoming the character again. But Anthony’s suit was a lot for him, and I know Black Noir’s was a lot for him too.
AF: When it comes to the TV Academy event, that was a smashing success. They showed “Herogasm,” and I was curious, what do you remember most about that set?
Crawford: Oh, man, I didn’t have it as bad as everyone else. They kind of isolated those scenes. I remember walking in, and said, “What is this place?” I didn’t touch anything, I thought the hand sanitizer was KY jelly. I had people naked on opposite sides, and everyone was very nonchalant about it. I will say the editors claimed they’ve never seen anything quite like that.
AF: The way you balance the comedy and the drama of the character, it’s no easy feat. When you meet fans, what sort of reactions do you get?
Crawford: Honestly, it’s really enjoyable and quite different from the demographic of “Gossip Girl” fans. Sometimes I’ll be at the airport, and I’ll hear, “Yo, The Deep.” It’s just always so much fun, and there are so many shows out there, it’s rewarding that fans are choosing to watch “The Boys.”
I don’t take that for granted. That’s why I love The Deep, and the grey area that comes with him. It’s a once in a lifetime character.
“The Boys” is available to stream Amazon Prime Video.