‘The Boys’ Star Jack Quaid ‘Inclined to Agree’ He’s a Nepo Baby


Jack Quaid has taken great pains to carve out a unique path for himself in Hollywood. Determined not to follow too closely in the footsteps of his very famous parents (Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan), the 32-year-old actor has fully embraced “genre” storytelling, from his debut blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role in the first Hunger Games film to his break-out performance as the endlessly relatable Hughie Campbell in Amazon Prime Video’s wildly popular comic book adaptation The Boys, currently streaming its fourth season.

In this episode of The Last Laugh podcast, Quaid breaks down his character’s evolution, shares his view on the show’s satirical politics, and teases just how “insane” the fifth and final season could get. He also shares stories from working with Christopher Nolan on Oppenheimer and openly admits that he is definitely a “nepo baby”—no matter what his mother, the “undisputed queen of rom-coms” has to say about it.

“I am a fellow comedy nerd for sure,” Quaid assures me at the top of our conversation. But he also describes himself as a “huge nerd” period, a fact that has helped inform the types of projects he has been drawn to as an actor and made him desperate to get cast in The Boys. “I’d honestly be an extra in the show just to say I was in it,” he says.

Quaid expects to start shooting the show’s fifth and final season this fall. “We will all go back up to Toronto and film the final season, which is such a weird thing to say,” he remarks. “Any show is so lucky to go five seasons, and the fact that we get to go out on our own terms is such an incredible gift.”

“I’m just excited to see what a Boys finale season looks like, too,” he adds, “because I mean, it’s got to be fucking insane.”

Below is an edited excerpt from our conversation. You can listen to the whole thing by following The Last Laugh on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you get your podcasts, and be the first to hear new episodes when they are released every Wednesday.

Hughie is the first character you’ve gotten to play over the course of many years. How do you think he has changed since the show began? Because he’s obviously been through a lot.

That’s an understatement for sure. I love playing this character and I love that I get so much time with him. And I think Hughie’s a really interesting character, because he very much grounds the show. The show is insane and full of blood and superheroes doing very naughty things. And it took me a while to kind of understand my role, in a more meta sense, on the show. I’m the guy that has to react to the craziness in a realistic way—or as realistic as you can get on a show like this—in order to ground all of the insanity.

But I think he’s grown a lot. In this season we get into his abandonment issues. His mom left him when he was a kid, and now she’s back because his dad is sick. I got to work with Simon Pegg again. And he plays my dad on the show because in the original comic books Hughie, my character is modeled after Simon Pegg, which they did not get his permission for, by the way.

When did he realize that?

I think he’s just a nerd and he saw the comics and he saw his face, and instead of suing like a normal person, he was like, ‘Ahh, sick!’ So I want to thank him, because I think the show exists because Simon Pegg didn’t sue. But I got to work with him and Rosemarie Dewitt, who plays my mom, and they’re both incredible, so wonderful and so giving. I learned so much from both of them. And I’m going to cherish those days for the rest of my life.

How do you think about the politics of the show? It is essentially a satire of Trump’s America, but it does this thing where it really satirizes both sides, and I think can be claimed by either side. I know there are some people on the right who think the show is really just making fun of liberals, and vice versa. There’s obviously Homelander as a Trump-like figure and now we have Victoria Neuman, who is definitely modeled after AOC. And they’re both pretty evil!

You know, I always hesitate to be like, “No, this is the subtext,” because art is interpretive. I think the intent of it is leaning more towards the liberal side. At least, I’d like to think that, absolutely. I think that the true message of the show that [creator] Eric [Kripke] is trying to get across is that anyone who claims that they have all the answers, and that only they can help everyone and save everyone, is lying to you.

“I alone can fix it.”

Yeah, there happens to be a very orange man with hair that is the color of hay—whatever, I’m talking about Donald Trump, this metaphor is falling apart—but people like him come along and try to sell that to you. And anyone who’s trying to say that they’re the strongest is lying to you, and does not have your best interest at heart. And I think the real lesson of the show that Eric tries to get out there is that it’s really not about one person saving the world. It’s really about everyday people just doing little, almost boring things every day to make the world a better place. That’s how we save each other.

Yeah, it’s crazy how many one-to-one parallels there are to our reality. There’s a scene in the first episode of this new season where everyone’s waiting for the verdict in Homelander’s murder trial that felt so similar to what everyone just went through watching the Trump verdict.

It’s really, really weird. And I don’t love it, actually. It almost feels like a Simpsons thing where we’re predicting the future. And I don’t love it because it’s usually something horrible. Sometimes I’m like, oh shit, a new season’s coming out, what’s going to happen in the real world?

That’s why the final season is just going to be totally peaceful and everything gets fixed, right?

It better be. Please, please let that happen.

It’s interesting that you started in this genre space with a small role in The Hunger Games and that’s really been a big part of what you’ve done. Is it the kind of thing where, because you start that way, you are thought of that way? Or is it really just what you gravitate towards?

I don’t know. Either way, I’m just very lucky because it’s exactly where I want to be. I love genre. I really do. I think you can tell such cool, amazing stories in the genre space. I’m very lucky to be where I am.

I will say, I thought you were also great in the movie Plus One, which is, I would say, a pretty underrated rom-com starring you and Maya Erskine.

Oh, thank you!

And that’s another path that you could have taken, doing more rom-coms. Was it a conscious decision not to do that, or was it just sort of what you got cast in?

It was a little bit of a conscious decision to not do it as much. It’s just got to be right, because, you know, my mom is the undisputed queen of rom-coms. So I can’t just get into that space, it’s got to be right. It’s got to be something that feels different enough from what she’s done. I’m not looking to take her place or anything.

Were you worried if you did lean into that sort of thing that people would call attention to that?

Yeah, I mean, no matter what I do, people are going to call attention to it. People have called me a “nepo baby.” I’m inclined to agree. I am an immensely privileged person, was able to get representation pretty early on, and that’s more than half the battle. I knew the door was open for me in a lot of ways that it’s just not for a lot of actors. And I’ve just tried to work as hard as I possibly can to prove that I deserve to walk through that door. So if that’s in the rom-com space, it’s got to be different enough, and I need to work my ass off.

I did see an interview not too long ago where your mom defended you against that “nepo baby” label [“That nepo stuff is so dismissive of his work ethic, his gifts and how sensitive he is to the idea of his privilege,” Meg Ryan said last year]. And I was curious what you thought when you saw that.

Yeah, I saw that too. My first thought was like, she’s being a mom. She’s being a loving mom. But I don’t think she’s trying to say that I’m not a nepo baby. I think she’s just trying to say that, in her opinion, it undermines my talent. I don’t think it undermines my talent. I know that I work hard, and I know I’ve heard “no” way more than I’ve heard “yes.” But I also know that this industry is insanely hard to break into, and I had an easier time doing that than most. Both things can be true. So no, I don’t think she was trying to say that I’m not a privileged person. She knows. She must know. I think she was being a mom.

Listen to the episode now and follow The Last Laugh on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you get your podcasts to be the first to hear new episodes when they are released every Wednesday.

This post was originally published on Daily Beast

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