Jensen Ackles knew Amazon’s The Boys was a wild and wacky superhero show before he signed on, and the muscular actor’s on-screen performance — mostly in buff — threw him in at the deep end on his first day.
Ackles’ character, Soldier Boy, emerges from a large metal capsule after several decades in storage, and “in true ‘Boys’ fashion, they don’t restrain their superheroes with their clothes on. Why would they do that?” says Ackles. “So I walked out in front of my brand new cast and crew with nothing but a sock between me and them.”
After 15 seasons of “Supernatural,” Ackles transitions from battling demons to wielding a starry shield in the third installment of “The Boys” (first three episodes stream Fridays, then weekly). His Soldier Boy is a 1980s Captain America-esque macho superhero – although he’s nowhere near as nice – and a hugely popular American celebrity long presumed dead. Now he’s being sought by Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) to take down psychopathic Superman Homelander (Antony Starr).
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But Ackles, 44, isn’t done with the “Supernatural” world yet: He’s the narrator and executive producer, along with wife Danneel, of CW’s “The Winchesters,” a prequel spinoff that premieres this fall and focuses on the monsters chasing parents of Ackles ‘ Sam by Dean and Jared Padalecki. The Texas native also stars as new Montana sheriff Beau Arlen in the upcoming third season of ABC crime thriller Big Sky.
Ackles speaks to USA TODAY about ‘The Boys’, toxic masculinity and his affection for Reba McEntire.
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Question: Your “Boys” introduction was sans clothes, but what was it like filming a superhero orgy scene where you’re surrounded by a bunch of naked extras in your fancy suit?
Jensen Ackles: I’m by no means a humble person, but I remember walking onto the set and let’s just say I felt the need to stare at the ceiling more than ever in my life. Avoid eye contact, just don’t look down and you might get through the day.
Q: Was that an interesting exercise by Dean Winchester on Soldier Boy?
Ackles: Dean was the unlikely hero in flannel that you would walk by a million times on the street and never know. He fought the good fight in the shadows while Soldier Boy pretends to fight the good fight in the spotlight. Much like Homelander, this is a guy who believes in his own hype and struggles with his insecurities and inner demons, and doesn’t do it very well. We’re dealing with a lot of toxic masculinity, and Soldier Boy definitely embodies that.
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Q: Why is this an important topic now?
Ackles: We teach girls all the time that it’s okay to be tough and stand up for yourself and that you can do anything a boy can do. But on the other hand it’s not the same. Princess dresses are not for boys, painting nails is not for boys, playing with dolls is not for boys. Being discouraged just because of what has been passed down from generation to generation is something we should peel off and maybe understand on a deeper level where this is coming from and why we still cling to it as a society.
Q: You’re joining Reba McEntire as new series regulars on Big Sky. Is there a duet in your future?
Ackles: (laughs) If Reba McEntire wants me to sing with her, I’m a country fan big enough to do whatever it takes not to let her down. She’s an icon, she’s legendary, she’s a member of country music.
Q: Which melody would you choose to sing?
Ackles: Oh man. I would do just about anything to get her to sing “Fancy.”
Q: What is it about “Supernatural” that keeps you coming back?
Ackles: It’s a world that has always interested me. There have obviously been several attempts at a spinoff for the show, because I think there’s a strong desire to continue expanding this universe. Anytime you have a fandom and even a set of characters like this that really put that much time and effort into building this world, you want to see other parts of it – at least I want that.
Look, I wasn’t ready for Supernatural to die. I just needed a break. (Laughs) I wasn’t ready for that done done. I just had to stick my toes in the sand for a moment.
Q: Do you have big plans for Father’s Day now that you’re back home in Austin?
Ackles: No, my Father’s Day plans are pretty much all that (my family) is going to do for me. Count me in. I’m not the planner in my family. My wife is the supreme commander and she is letting us know where this ship is going. I’m just waiting for my marching orders.
Q: So you’re a Soldier Boy through and through?
Ackles: That’s it, my friend.