Tragic Details About The Cast Of The Boys

With the rise in popularity of the seemingly ubiquitous Marvel Cinematic Universe, and, to a slightly lesser extent, the D.C. Extended Universe, the superhero genre has recently gained critical credibility, the likes of which have scarcely been seen in the industry before. While the genre may have its detractors — Martin Scorsese infamously branded superhero flicks "not cinema" (via The New York Times) — it's pretty safe to say that the MCU and its ilk are going nowhere. But some individuals who may agree with Marty's admission are the anti-heroes of the hit Amazon program "The Boys." Adapted from the D.C. book series by Garth Ennis, the show is centered on a squad of misfit superhero cynics — "The Boys" in question — who gaze upon the celebrity status of the world's larger than life heroes and heroines with disdain.

Admittedly, the show often delves into dark territory, dealing with subject matter such as grief, suicide, and addiction. Many of the themes in the show mirror the lived experiences of the cast members' lives away from set — with the exception of the, ahem, exploding man parts in Season 3. And while the series' impressive ensemble cast depict their extraordinary onscreen counterparts with panache, they have had to navigate the pitfalls of everyday life away from the spotlight.

As fans become more invested in the show, it leaves us wondering about the trials and tribulations the actors themselves have faced. These are the tragic details about the cast of "The Boys."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Jack Quaid found his parents' divorce painful

Newcomer Jack Quaid is adept at playing the bereaved Hughie on "The Boys." Much like the vengeance-seeking antihero he depicts, Quaid has endured his share of hardship. The son of Hollywood A-listers Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, Jack was just eight when his parents called it quits, leading to a toxic media frenzy, per the Los Angeles Times.

The divorce was hard on Jack, but being subjected to the less-than-savory tabloid headlines made the experience all the more painful. "It's kind of hard to ignore when you're at a grocery store and you're like, checking out and, you know, those People and In Touch magazines on the side," he said on the "Allegedly" podcast (via Us Magazine). "And you look at them and there's a photo of them with a little paper rip thing ... It's a hard deal." His parents' divorce was exacerbated by gossip that his mom was having an affair with Russell Crowe. Speaking to Oprah Winfrey, Ryan admitted to the dalliance, but said that her marriage to Dennis was "very unhealthy" and should have ended years earlier anyway.

In addition to his difficulties dealing with the public aftermath of his parents' split, Jack has also opened up about his struggles with anxiety. "I've always been slightly more anxious than your average Joe," he told Project UROK. "I remember freshman year of college I started having panic attacks." He said that having someone to talk to was paramount in coping with his anxiety disorder.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Antony Starr's legal woes

New Zealand actor Antony Starr portrays the seemingly innocuous and upstanding Homelander on "The Boys." However, Homelander is skilled at hiding his diabolical persona from those around him; secretly, he engages in the most nefarious villainy. Starr plays Homelander with aplomb, perhaps because he's found himself on the wrong side of the law, much like the duplicitous antagonist he embodies.

In 2022, Starr was filming a Guy Ritchie movie in Spain when he was arrested by authorities; he was handed a suspended sentence of 12 months and fined a whopping five grand, per Variety. According to The New Zealand Herald, a drunken Starr got into a scuffle with a 21-year-year old chef. The actor threw punches at the young chef and broke a glass in his face, leaving him with bloody injuries. Subsequently, the victim had to be taken to hospital where he was given four stitches.

Looking back on the horrific incident, Starr told The New York Times that he had made a terrible mistake, which he has since learnt from. "I got myself into a situation that was negative and I reacted poorly, and the way forward from that was very clear," he said. The actor also hinted at having a drinking problem. When asked whether he would quit drinking, he replied, "I wish it was that simple. I don't know anyone that hasn't, on a personal level, got things that they want to work on."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Karen Fukuhara was the victim of a hate crime

Karen Fukuhara plays the lone girl, known as The Female, in the superhero ensemble group of "The Boys." A profile in The Last Magazine highlights that Fukuhara's casting in the Amazon series is pivotal to countering the racially insensitive and sexist stereotypes present in the original book series. "There are Asian female leads and we're not just an assistant, a doctor, the sidekick, or the friend. I think our stories are finally getting told," she told the outlet regarding Hollywood's history of offensive casting tropes.

Tragically, Fukuhara has been on the receiving end of anti-Asian hate. In 2022, she was assaulted by a man in a racially-motivated hate crime. Recalling the horrific incident on Instagram, she said that she was minding her own business in a café when a man struck her head entirely out of the blue. "What satisfaction are these perpetrators getting from hitting women, Asians, the elderly?" she wrote. "They need to be held accountable." Per Variety, her "The Boys" co-stars sent their love and support.

The attack occurred at a time when the Stop Asian Hate initiative was gaining momentum. Speaking with InStyle following the assault, Fukuhara said that she felt a duty to share her story. After reading about various anti-Asian attacks having occurred in cities all over the country — in places where she had always felt safe as an Asian woman — she was left shaken. "So, when that happened, it was almost a cry for help," she said.

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Karl Urban was devastated by his co-star's death

Acting vet Karl Urban is another Kiwi star who's lent his name to the impressive, ever expanding cast of "The Boys." Playing Billy Butcher, Urban has an undeniable magnetism with that devilish beard and (in)famous mischievous grin — even when, as his moniker suggests, he's butchering his nemeses.

Aside from "The Boys," Urban is synonymous with the rebooted "Star Trek" movies. Sadly, his co-star and friend, Anton Yelchin, died in 2016, aged just 27. Per the Los Angeles Times, Yelchin was killed in a freak accident when he was crushed by his own car. The incident devastated Urban, who tweeted his shock when he heard the terrible news, declaring that he's "hurting bad." In the aftermath of the young actor's passing, Urban spoke to Entertainment Weekly and expressed his disbelief that Yelchin could be taken so soon. "He was a huge loss to our family, and I think we're all still reeling in shock," he said. "It's just still very fresh, this only happened a matter of weeks ago. We're a little floored. It's tough. We miss him terribly. He should be here."

During an appearance on Today, he reflected on Yelchin's untimely death. "Such a beautiful man. It's so difficult to, you know, think about him in the past ... I'll never forget his laugh," he said. A month after Yelchin's death, Urban and the rest of the "Star Trek" cast honored their fallen star at Comic Con by wearing black pins, per Esquire.

Shantel VanSanten's grandmother died tragically

Shantel VanSanten appeared in the first two seasons of "The Boys" as the tragic Becca Butcher. Much like Becca, who remained resilient in the face of traumatic adversity, VanSanten has had to contend with devastating loss. In 2014, her grandmother, Doris Dooyema, died of lung cancer aged 79, per Legacy. The death of a grandparent can be just as distressing as the loss of a parent. VanSanten was incredibly close to her grandma, and her demise left a tremendous void in her life. 

"The absence of my grandmother is still felt in many moments I wish she was still present to share in ... The pain felt from the death of somebody you love, especially the person who has a foundational part of your life, isn't something easily recovered from," she wrote on Instagram. In a separate post, she explained that Dooyema, a non-smoker, developed lung cancer due to exposure to radon, which was present in her basement. In her final moments, Dooyema told VanSanten that her only wish was to have more time to share her story in the hope of helping others.

To honor her grandma's legacy, VanSanten raises awareness of lung cancer, highlighting that it's not just prevalent in smokers. She has also urged people to test for radon at home. Accordingly, the actor was bestowed the Chairs Award by the American Lung Association, per Lung. "In her absence I have been given an opportunity," VanSanten said. "The opportunity to share her story to help others."

Jennifer Esposito almost died of her chronic illness

TV mainstay Jennifer Esposito gave Billy Butcher a run for his money on "The Boys" as CIA operative Susan. Away from the cameras, Esposito has struggled with health issues, but getting a proper diagnosis proved difficult. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, she revealed that she was filming sitcom "Samantha Who" when co-star Melissa McCarthy warned her that something was seriously wrong. McCarthy noticed a tooth fall out of Esposito's mouth and urged her to go to the hospital. "I went back to this doctor and I said, 'Please, I need help. Please keep me here because I'm jumping out of my skin,'" she recalled.

However, instead of sending Esposito off to receive the appropriate medical care, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. "I'm thinking, 'How did I get here?'" she said. "This is a problem with my system. This is not a problem with my brain. I was almost dead. I mean, my hair was falling out, my eyelashes fell off, my fingernails were falling off." Eventually, she was diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body cannot tolerate gluten, according to a 2007 study.

Speaking with WebMD, Esposito said that the delay in receiving a proper diagnosis led to a diminished quality of life for many years. After her near-fatal scare, she began raising awareness of the condition and released a book, "Jennifer's Way," which aims to help fellow celiac patients through tales of her own experiences, per "The Doctors."

Jensen Ackles was deeply affected by Halyna Hutchins' death

The heartthrob of every 2010s teen, Jensen Ackles wooed audiences on "Supernatural." Now, he's playing a decidedly different role, as troubled all-American hero Soldier Boy on "The Boys." In addition to his television work, Ackles has starred in a number of films, one of which would end in tragedy.

In 2021, it was announced by Deadline that Ackles had been cast in the western "Rust." In a tragedy that rocked Hollywood, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on set when Alec Baldwin's prop gun accidentally went off, per BBC. As Ackles told USA Today, the shooting "happened right before my eyes." Eerily, he was filmed at a convention just days before the fatal accident, explaining how the "Rust" filmmakers taught the cast about gun safety, per Entertainment Weekly.

In an Instagram post, he revealed that he had spoken to Hutchins to praise her work shortly before she died. "Earlier last week I felt compelled to tell Halyna just how awesome I thought she was ... She laughed and said thank you and gave me a hug," he wrote. "I'll forever be thankful we had that moment." Ackles said that he struggled to come to terms with the magnitude of the cinematographer's death. Speaking with USA Today, he said the incident had given him a new perspective on life. "You don't normally witness them like I did, and it's certainly shocking and jarring," he said. "It makes you value life even more than you had."

Simon Pegg struggled with depression and addiction

Simon Pegg's role in "The Boys," as Hughie's dad, is a delicious bit of meta-casting: Hughie's design in the book series was based on Pegg's appearance (he was initially set to star as Hughie Jr., but was too old by the time the series went into production), per Comic Book.

Prior to "The Boys," Pegg was famed for the Cornetto Trilogy, which included zom-rom-com "Shaun of the Dead" and cop movie parody "Hot Fuzz." On the outside, the actor's life seemed like every Brit fanboy's dream come true. The self-styled nerd was making movies with BFF Nick Frost, and gaining stardom and recognition for it, to boot. But the truth is, Pegg was all the while grappling with some debilitating demons. Due to the stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction, he tried at great lengths to hide these issues from the public.

Speaking with The Guardian, Pegg revealed that he struggled with depression for years. "I would feel like – I'm in a film with Tom Cruise, I've got the part of Scotty in 'Star Trek.' This should be making me feel happy," he explained, adding, "But it wasn't." Accordingly, he began self-medicating with alcohol. In an interview with The Times, he explained that he appeared well on the outside, but was secretly very ill. "It's a very private hell that you're in. You're trying to look okay to other people ... Whereas really you're clearly not well and you're very sad," he said. Following rehab, Pegg is now in recovery.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Elisabeth Shue's brother died tragically

Elisabeth Shue is one of several acting vets on "The Boys." Although she is renowned for playing affable characters in family films such as "The Karate Kid," and for breaking our hearts in tearjerkers like "Leaving Las Vegas," she has taken on the role of unscrupulous businesswoman Madelyn in the Amazon hit series. Shue plays the part with relish, but a cold, unfeeling corporate suit couldn't be further from her offscreen persona.

Unfortunately, Shue's life has been blighted by grief. In 1988, her brother, soccer player William, died aged just 26 after falling from a tree, per the Los Angeles Times. Shue appeared in the 2007 film "Gracie," which was directed by her husband David Guggenheim and based on her own recollections of being a teen soccer prodigy. Primarily, the film deals with that actor's experiences of grief. "The heart of the movie is that his passing away really is what has changed our lives," she said, "and in some ways has been one of the most painful gifts that we could have ever been allowed to have." 

Tragically, Shue was present when her brother had the catastrophic accident, per The Morning Call. Discussing her loss with the Chicago Tribune, Shue said that she struggles to cope with Williams' death all these decades later, though his memory remains with her. "It's still very emotional, yet I am starting to realize that even though it's going to be emotional for me forever, Will's spirit lives on," she said.

Giancarlo Esposito's life was clouded by suicide

Playing the shady businessman Stan, an associate of Madelyn, Giancarlo Esposito is adept at depicting mysterious characters who harbor sketchy pasts. The actor is probably most famous for his role as the terrifyingly stoic Gus Fring on "Breaking Bad."

In 2017, he directed the satirical film "The Show," which deals with the controversial topic of on-air suicides on a reality show, per the Los Angeles Times. It turns out that the project resonated with the actor on a profoundly personal level. The specter of suicide haunted Esposito throughout his life. "My mother tried to commit suicide once, my uncle committed suicide," he told The Daily Beast, revealing that he himself had struggled with suicidal ideation. "I do have some knowledge of depression and where that could lead to," he added. When the film was released, he faced a hefty amount of censure, with critics arguing that the director's depiction of suicide was unrealistic. This upset Esposito, since these scenes were based on his own experiences.

In an interview with The Frame, he opened up about this dark period in his life. "I was completely bankrupt and losing my home," he explained. "My office was in my living room. I couldn't get a job. I had my fourth daughter ... and I was completely shattered." After reading the book "Who Moved My Cheese," his outlook changed and he was suddenly filled with hope, realizing that he could provide for his family without taking any potentially devastating steps.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Haley Joel Osment's DUI crash was the wake-up call he needed

In recent years, Haley Joel Osment — once synonymous with the refrain "I see dead people" — has had a career resurgence, appearing on "The Kominsky Method" and "The Boys." The latter sees him play the duplicitous Mesmer, who is both a friend and a foe to the motley crew of eponymous antiheroes.

Being a former child actor, Osment is skilled at playing dual roles, much like his onscreen alter ego on the Amazon series. Fans of "The Sixth Sense" viewed Osment as nothing more than the cherubic little boy who shadowed Bruce Willis, but his life away from the spotlight sadly mirrored a trajectory often expected from former child actors. In 2006, he was injured in a car crash while driving under the influence, per People. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, he was hospitalized after breaking his ribs and damaging his shoulder. Subsequently, he was charged with marijuana possession and driving under the influence. After pleading no contest, he was forced to undergo drug and alcohol rehabilitation and given three years probation.

Speaking with The Guardian, Osment said that the DUI was a "terrible mistake" and emphasized that he's since recovered from this darkness. Reflecting on his younger self, he dismissed the notion that the life of a former child star ought to be blighted by misfortune. "I'm lucky to have a positive relationship with those periods that can sometimes be difficult for other people," he said.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jim Beaver lost his wife of 15 years

Jim Beaver plays U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Singer, which, in a nice bit of "The Boys" Easter-egging, is also the name of his character in "Supernatural." Despite his stoic onscreen persona, his life has been shrouded in tragedy. In 1989, he married actor and casting director Cecily Adams, and they welcomed daughter Madeline Rose in 2001, per My Heritage. But just three years later, Adams was diagnosed with lung cancer and she died within months, as reported by Variety. She was 46. Beaver was then left to raise his bereaved three-year-old daughter on his own. Beaver chronicled his grief in the memoir "Life's That Way," in which he revealed that his wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer just six weeks after Madeline was diagnosed with autism.

"With all the thousands upon thousands of people suffering from this disease, how can I find her pain and mine so surprising[?] ... The only answer I can conjure is that a kind Providence keeps us blind to the intensity of suffering," Beaver wrote in one particularly devastating passage, "so as to keep us sane, until that day when the suffering is our own or that of someone we love beyond imagining."

Tragically, his 16-year-old niece, Kira, was also diagnosed with cancer. "It's a terrifying time for us as a family," he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. Two years later, Beaver tweeted that Kira had died on Christmas day, aged just 18.

Billy Zane's father succumbed to COVID-19

Following his Season 1 cameo as himself, Billy Zane returned to the cast of "The Boys" in Season 3. The former A-lister is a surprising addition to the series, purposely chewing the scenery via his comically cheesy movie roles. Chace Crawford told Digital Spy that he was delighted to work with Zane, who's most famous for his role in "Titanic." Sadly, Zane's personal struggles aren't as frivolous as his self-deprecating "Boys" alter ego suggests.

The coronavirus has claimed millions of lives the world over. As a result, Zane confessed that the pandemic had left him with survivor's remorse since he hadn't lost any family members to the deadly virus. "It does not have to directly touch my family or friends for it to affect me," he told Page Six in May 2020. "It doesn't have to be my blood that moves me every day. "

In a cruel irony, the virus did eventually hit home. Just one month after Zane made the admission, his father died of COVID-19. Subsequently, he made an impassioned plea on Instagram for people to protect one another, highlighting the vulnerability of the elderly in particular. "Youth, the elderly are at risk and so is society," he wrote in the moving post, accompanied by a photo of his late father. "As thus your stewards are at risk, should we lose all our teachers, our sages, our crones our storytellers ... learn from every tragedy, and mistake and thrive in comforting knowledge that you acted."

Dawnn Lewis is a domestic abuse survivor

While "The Boys" is essentially a satire of the superhero genre, it has at times delved into more weighty subject matter. In Season 2, the series addressed systemic racism by introducing the character Valerie, a Black woman whose brother was subjected to racist police brutality. Entertainment Weekly hailed the storyline as the series' "gutsiest season yet." TV mainstay Dawnn Lewis, of "A Different World" fame, played Valerie with a distinct poignancy. This emotional performance was in part inspired by her lived experiences with violence at the hands of the police. But in Lewis' case, the police officer was her own father.

Lewis' is a domestic violence survivor, having been abused by her father. As reported by Easton Courier, she spoke about her experiences at The Center for Family Justice's Speaking of Women fundraiser in 2021. The actor explained that since her dad was a cop, asking the police for support proved near impossible. "My mother went to the police several times and said, 'this is what's happening in my home,'" she said.

One day, her mom left the family home, leaving Lewis and her brothers with their violent father, per the Los Angeles Sentinel. "My mom had to leave myself and my brothers for a time in order to save herself, then get herself back together to a point where she could come back and get us," she said. The actor added that empowerment and self-love were central to her surviving the trauma.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.