The Boys are back! With the long-awaited premiere of the hit Prime Video series’ third season finally hitting our home screens, we can welcome the return of our favorite irreverent, disturbing, and often downright nasty supes who couldn’t be further from heroic – as well as the group of resident misfits the show is named for who are determined to hold them accountable for previous and current misdeeds. Of course, The Boys would not be able to do half of what they do without some important allies – and one such character has finally made his live-action debut in the series as of Season 3. Known only as The Legend, the character was initially written in the source material as a parody of Marvel Comics titan Stan Lee, but in the series, the cigar-chomping gentleman has done his time in Hollywood and now looks back on his once-booming career – and all the dirt he acquired on the famous supes of yore – with more of a wry recollection.
Ahead of this week’s long-awaited “Herogasm” episode, Collider had the chance to speak to Paul Reiserwho joins The Boys this season as The Legend himself. Over the course of the interview, which you can read below, Reiser shared how much he knew about the character before signing on, why he almost did not take the role, and which adjustments were made in bringing the character to life from page to screen. He also reveals which game the cast of The Boys got very good at playing in the downtime between takes, whether he’d be up for returning for the show’s upcoming fourth season, and more.
Collider: I feel like I’ve been seeing you all over my TV lately, so it’s good to catch up with you on at least one of the shows that you’re on right now.
PAUL REISER: There you go. I’m bigger than static. I’m on every TV.
For you, at what point did this process get started for you? When did you get the call? When did this start rolling?
REISER: You know, it was kind of sudden and linear. It wasn’t a lot of … I was not familiar with the show, and I’m certainly not familiar with the comics. So I had to really start from point zero. When I watched the show, it took me a minute to get what it is they were doing, because it’s so over the top and so graphic. Once you accept that, you go, “Oh, it’s kind of funny how unbelievably vivid this is.”
I only worked a few days last summer, and I remember at the time I had a long couple of talks with Eric Kripke about the role. There were some things that I did not feel comfortable saying or doing, and he was very amenable and collaborative, and I said, “Great, okay, let’s go do it, two days, three days, whatever it is.” He said, “The only thing is … We’re in Toronto, and it’s a 14-day quarantine.” I said, “I’m sorry. Say what? So I have to shoot two days, but I have to spend 14 days [in quarantine] before I do that? “
I was almost going to pass, and enough people said, “You’re going to love it. We’ll get you a nice place. You can read books and nobody will bother you.” I thought, “Where else am I going to get 14 days to sit and read books or write?” I said, “Okay.” Even with that disclaimer, I did it. I jumped in and then as fate would have it, literally the day before I was to fly, they lifted the restriction. So I only had to be in lockdown for a day or two. But I was willing to, and the show seemed different enough for me and certainly good enough that it was worth spending a disproportionate amount of time for the amount of work I’d have to do.
It was really fun, and one of the nicest parts of it was … you know when you’re the visiting knucklehead on a well-run, well-oiled machine, sometimes it’s hard to feel at ease and or people do not necessarily knock themselves out to make you comfortable. But this crew is great, the crew and certainly the cast. I remember watching Karl Urban, he was such a badass and I went, “Oh, he’s probably a horrible guy. He just seems so …” He couldn’t have been sweeter. Jack [Quaid] was terrific and Laz [Alonso], and so it was really very comfortable and fun. I think a part of it might have been [that] these guys are in this horribly dark universe that they’re so happy that somebody comes from the outside world. It’s like, “Tell us what it’s like in the daylight?”
The show is so not something I would normally seek out or watch. So it was very eye-opening for me to go, “Oh, this is something else.” I’ve since found out how huge the fan base is and how passionate the fan base is. I’ve never played a character where there is a history of this character, and they might hate you just for showing up. Thankfully, the response that I’ve heard at least has been like, “Oh, well, that’s a nice choice. We know The Legend and that guy hasn’t messed it up totally for us.”
It’s established in the show that The Legend is somebody who The Boys have had an ongoing relationship with and clearly knows them on a more intimate basis. He calls MM by his first name, which is something that none of the other characters do. Do you feel like that onset camaraderie really helped establish that relationship from the jump?
REISER: Well, the scenes that I had were not really about camaraderie. The character was not particularly welcomed. He had this bad history with Karl’s character, and Jack’s had never heard of me, and Laz was really trying to be in the middle. My personal experience was much nicer than what my character was going through. It shouldn’t matter, but it’s always a nice bonus when you go, “Oh, that was a pleasant few days,” as opposed to everybody being very method and choosing to act mean to you. It’s like [being] the new kid in school. “I do not know where craft services is. I do not know the DP’s name. I do not know anything.” But they were just great. They’re crazy big backgammon players and I do not play backgammon. I was watching. These guys are literally … they finish the sentence of their thing, and they get back to the game. I think they’ve been cooped up a long time. I think these guys need some fresh air.
You mentioned that you had spoken with Eric Kripke before coming on set, trying to suss out who the show’s version of this character was going to be. In the comics, he’s based more on Stan Lee, but this version is more of a Robert Evans-inspired Legend. What kinds of conversations do you remember having with him about how to develop this version of the character?
REISER: Yeah, I do not remember at all thinking or discussing that we were even taking a departure from Stan Lee. That wasn’t part of my awareness, but early on, Robert Evans came into the conversation and I think it might have just been about the look and the wardrobe. Which certainly was … we were stealing left and right from his archives. There’s a picture in Episode 7 [where] I’m wearing exactly Robert Evans’ outfit. It looked better on him but still, I tried. A Jew in a bolo tie is not really something that needs to be repeated often.
Once we talked about that, it really helped inform the character. The Legend was a guy who was legendary, but he is not so of the moment. He is not a force anymore and his best days are behind him and his walls are a couple of pictures that are 40 years old. Robert Evans was a quintessential guy of that world. He was huge and then not, but seems to have lived in the glory and the reflection of what used to be. So that was a really informative and fun thing to play, that runner with me and Jack of, “How do you not know who I am? Do not you read a book?” That’s so self-centered. “How could you get this far without knowing me?” I do not know much about Stan Lee as a person. I mean, I know his output. But Robert Evans was such a colorful character that I knew something about that it was easy to tap into that.
I did talk to Kripke a few weeks ago and at the time, he could not confirm one way or another if we were getting another season, but now it has since been announced that The Boys will be returning for Season 4.
REISER: I did not know that until just now. That’s cool.
Well, now that it’s been renewed, how game are you to come back if there’s an opportunity?
REISER: I’m only going to come back if they ask me. I will not come up against their will. [laughs] No, it was great fun. I loved the crew and I loved the cast and Eric was great, he really creative, his writing staff is great. Especially now that we have a little bit of a running jump, we know what was fun about the character and this incarnation, I’d be thrilled if they wrote some more stuff. I’d go up to Canada. Especially if I do not have to spend two extra weeks [in quarantine] for nothing. Nothing bad about Canada, I just have things to do.
The Boys Season 3 premieres with new episodes every Friday on Prime Video.