Home » Laz Alonso on Developing Mother’s Milk in ‘The Boys’ Season 3 & Squaring Up to Marvel – Exclusive Interview

Laz Alonso on Developing Mother’s Milk in ‘The Boys’ Season 3 & Squaring Up to Marvel – Exclusive Interview

by Guy Dolbey
Laz Alonso stars as Mother's Milk with his young daughter from THE BOYS Season 3 in a new gold colored graphic for our exclusive interview.

Spoilers for The Boys Season 3 follow!

One of many reasons that Amazon’s The Boys has become such a hit is that it offers a genuinely fresh perspective on the superhero industrial complex. Whereas other movies and TV shows have followed those who are superpowerful, this Prime Video original series follows characters on the outskirts who force their way into those worlds anyway. The titular “Boys” are a group of powerless people who have set out to rectify what they see as an imbalance of power in a society where superheroes are able to act with impunity. While each member of the Boys, including leader Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), brings something unique to the table, it’s Mother’s Milk, brought to life by actor Laz Alonso, who serves to emotionally ground the group.

The father of a superhero-obsessed daughter, Mother’s Milk, or M.M. for short, is one of the few characters in The Boys with one foot in the normal world. This dramatic weight provides him with a necessary perspective that many other characters have lost over the course of the series. The Boys Season 3 rocked that foundation by bringing M.M. back into the fold with the introduction of Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), a long-thought-dead superhero who was directly responsible for the death of his grandfather. A man out of time, Solider Boy is introduced in the original comic book series of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson as a pastiche of Captain America. However, showrunner Eric Kripke, along with star producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, took M.M and Solider Boy’s rivalry in a direction that was much more timely than expected.

In The Boys Season 3, Mother’s Milk resists the temptation of temporary superpowers via Compound V, unlike Butcher and ally Hughie, putting his personal feelings in conflict with his teammates who have their own plans for Soldier Boy in the fight to bring down Homelander (Antony Starr) and his control over the main superhero group known as “The Seven.” His rejection by the group leads to an alliance with former Seven team member Starlight, Annie January (Erin Moriarty), resulting in M.M. eventually advocating for her to join the titular Boys. This is just one of the many ways that The Boys on Amazon Prime Video is different from the comics, solidifying the TV adaptation’s own place and voice in the modern cultural sphere.

Laz Alonso made his acting debut in the 2000 film Disappearing Acts, from director Gina Prince-Bythewood. He would soon appear in a number of movies and TV shows as well as music videos for Toni Braxton and Aaliyah. Following on from supporting roles in Sam Mendes’ Jarhead, Justin Lin’s Fast and Furious, and Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna, he went on to appear in James Cameron’s Avatar as Na’vi warrior Tsu’tey. He also voiced the titular bounty hunter in the Netflix original animated series My Dad the Bounty Hunter, released this year. Within the boys, Mother’s Milk serves as a foil to headstrong Butcher, and Laz Alonso provides that thoughtful charisma in spades.

As fans currently await The Boys Season 4, we sat down with Laz Alonso to discuss his journey across the three last seasons. Alonso explains how he had the most creative input for Mother’s Milk’s character arc in the third season, and how the Prime Video original series has managed to be as popular and dominant in today’s pop culture as the biggest Marvel films and shows. This conversation continues our FYC interview series with The Boys cast, featuring Jack Quaid (Hughie Campbell), Jessie T. Usher (A-Train), Chace Crawford (The Deep), Karen Fukuhara (Kimiko Miyashiro), Tomer Capone (Frenchie), and personal M.M. villain Jensen Ackles (Soldier Boy).

Exclusive FYC Interview with Laz Alonso for The Boys on Prime Video

The Boys Season 3 revealed a lot about MM’s background and certain events that shaped his worldview. Did you have an idea of that previously, or was that revealed to you during this season?

Laz Alonso: It’s funny. This is probably the first season that I’ve had creative input put as to where Mother’s Milk’s arc could potentially go. During the George Floyd incident, Eric [Kripke] and I were talking a lot. And we weren’t just talking about that, we were talking about world events. That summer was the summer of lockdowns, so he and I were talking pretty much every day. I mean, we were sitting at home bored and talking about pretty much everything that was going on, the ridiculousness of a lot of the stuff that we were witnessing, and how to find a way to capture that in the show for the next season.

Then George Floyd happened, and it was devastating to say the least, just to view and to see it. I reached out to Eric and I was like, “Brother, this part of history has to be told. It has to be told on our show, our way, we can’t walk away from this. This is a point of not only African-American history but American history as a whole that we have an opportunity now to input our take, our interpretation. What is happening, what has happened, what should happen, our own way of finding peace and justice in that moment.” So the first draft of Mother’s Milk’s arc, when I fight Todd, the cops come and they jump on me and beat the living mess out of me, and my daughter witnesses it – that was in the first draft.

Oh, wow.

Laz Alonso: Yeah, so we imparted some of that. By the time we made it to that episode, it had been rewritten a bunch of times. We ended up taking that out because we felt like it would take away from the Soldier Boy arc, which was really between him and I. While he was quote-unquote, the season three villain, he was Mother’s Milk’s villain personally. He had the most history with Mother’s Milk, going back to his childhood. He was the reason why Mother’s Milk has OCD.

So we didn’t want to add too many other traumatic elements that might take the emphasis off Soldier Boy, what he did to his family, and how he overpoliced that neighborhood to the point where he not only killed those kids that had stolen the car, but he also killed innocent bystanders, half of which being Mother’s Milk family.

Mother's Milk poses for a family photo with his daughter Janine and wife Monique during his daughter's 10th birthday party with decorations showing off superheroes and The Seven all over the room in a flashback scene from THE BOYS Season 3.
Laz Alonso, Frances Turner, & Liyou Abere in ‘The Boys’ Season 3
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

As an actor, having that relationship and knowing that backstory, did that influence how you approached playing Mother’s Milk day to day, as well as what you’ve weighed into the story?

Laz Alonso: Totally, it gave me a strong beginning, middle, and end. In the end, as I mentioned in the previous answer, things change. But it really set the context for my character’s arc and how I should pace the character’s journey through each episode so that you feel the growth and the peak, and when the balloon is about to burst, what happens next? So that, to me, was the most fun I’ve probably done on a television series. It was extremely satisfying to be able to see it. It was probably some of my most gratifying work on television.

It’s so different than what the other characters have going on, and you can really feel that. The Boys Season 3 foregrounded MM’s relationship with his daughter Janine as well. What was it like exploring that father dynamic and do you think the truest version of Mother’s Milk is when he’s with her, or is that a different mask he’s wearing?

Laz Alonso: It’s interesting because, for seasons one and two, she’s the main reason that motivates him to stay alive and to keep everyone else alive. He has a responsibility that’s waiting on him that he can’t let down. So it kind of anchors him. He’s such a strong presence within the group. I believe that Butcher brought him in, if for nothing else, to keep him from going overboard and to keep the group from going overboard and losing their way. Mother’s Milk is the GPS of that group. He keeps them in line, he keeps them oriented and mission-focused.

He also reminds us in season three that you can’t become what you’re looking to destroy and finish. You can’t say that’s bad and then become what you say is bad for the simple fact that you don’t agree with it. There has to be a different way of defeating it. So, while I would have loved to have taken some Temp V and kicked some ass along with Butcher and Hughie, Mother’s Milk’s role in season three was to remind us that all fire cannot be defeated with fire, sometimes you need water.

Mother's Milk reads a bed time story to his young daughter Janine in her room while wearing a 2Pac shirt in THE BOYS Season 3.
Liyou Abere & Laz Alonso in ‘The Boys’ Season 3
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Do you think MM’s daughter sort of brings him back to that as the story goes on?

Laz Alonso: His daughter reminds him that he has something bigger that needs him, and she has become an effective grounding reminder of why we live. A lot of times, people will sacrifice themselves for others much faster than they would do it for themselves. You see that a lot in parental love – parents will jump in front of a moving train to save their children. They’ll do great feats of logic to protect their kids. So, that’s what she becomes.

Another storyline with this relationship is that Mother’s Milk, his entire life, he’s been hiding who he is from her. He’s been hiding the OCD, he’s been hiding what he does, he’s been hiding this alternative lifestyle of superhero killing, especially to her, who’s such a huge fan of The Seven, superheroes, and Homelander. In season three, he has to reckon with his truth and has to admit who he is to her. He ultimately finds strength in what he previously saw as weakness, which is his OCD.,

Obviously, Mother’s Milk in the show is very different from his comic book counterpart. Did you find that freeing in allowing you to explore your own take, and not having those expectations?

Laz Alonso: I tried to keep the DNA of the character the same, but in the source material, Mother’s Milk has a tremendous advantage that my Mother’s Milk doesn’t, and that’s power. He has super strength in the source material, which allows him to have a different set of skills. Whereas in our world, because he can’t go head to head with the superheroes the way he could in the books, he has to lean on different things. He has to utilize different things, a lot of it’s psychology, a lot of it is trickery, and a lot of it is outsmarting everyone else.

He’s always described as the smartest character of The Boys. I did advocate for that to be more visible in season three, especially since he was going to be one of the few that didn’t take Compound V. At this point in The Boys, it’s really him having to run the show. You see that when Soldier Boy shows up and he becomes emotionally invested in stopping Soldier Boy, he can’t run the show. He can’t because now he’s turning into what he’s protected Butcher from turning into, and that’s obsessed.

That’s where I think the beauty of the friendship that was established in season two with Erin’s character, Starlight, really takes hold in season three. Because had that friendship not started in season two, by season three, Mother’s Milk wouldn’t trust her enough to have such a profound impact on keeping him from losing it and risking the mission. There are a lot of times that Mother’s Milk does stupid shit in season three. I mean, he wanted to fight. And he would have lost, I can’t even call it heroically because it would have been such a bad loss. But that was the passion and all of those years of pain that was coming out in those moments. Whenever he faced Soldier Boy, his fears went out the window, and it was all anger.

Mother's Milk and Annie January aka Starlight join forces in THE BOYS Season 3 episode Herogasm.
Erin Moriarty & Laz Alonso in ‘The Boys’ Season 3
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

As an actor, carrying yourself around people who are superhuman, who you understand have so much power over yourself, does that weigh into your performance? Thinking about the power difference between you and the characters around you in all of these scenes?

Laz Alonso: Absolutely, it does. I think there’s a different way of approaching conflict depending on who you’re talking to. With these supes, while you have to establish a sense of ownership in your words and in your delivery, you still have to always play the eminent danger that could happen if they choose to use their powers. So in season three, let’s say Mother’s Milk has Queen Maeve in his apartment, and she’s dirty and has got her feet on the furniture. Where he would normally move her feet physically, he’s got to now find a different way around it. So every time I’m in a scene with supes, I always make sure that I play the threat level, even if it’s in the subtext of my performance because there’s a way of showing respectful caution rather than fear. It doesn’t have to be fear, but it is caution.

So a lot of people first thought The Boys was this super gory take on superheroes, but the show has changed a lot over time. What do you think of where the show is now versus where it began? What still surprises you about The Boys from your point of view in the cast?

Laz Alonso: Well, the first thing that surprised me about The Boys is the industry accolades that we’ve gotten. When I first signed up for this show, to be completely transparent, I thought we had a big hill to climb, considering Marvel was such a behemoth, you know, considering people’s tastes in superheroes and the genre were all $200 million and up as far as production value. I knew that no matter how much we tinkered and toyed with it, our production would simply not be able to rival that of the big guys that are doing summer tentpole blockbusters.

So I really went in with a conservative mindset of, “I hope through the story, we can compete, but I know we’re going to get our asses kicked when it comes to the sheer magnitude of an Iron Man or an Avengers film,” which we would be compared to. However, I am happy to say that I was wrong. In my opinion, we have not only some of the best crew that I’ve ever worked with, but some of the best stunt teams and some of the best special effects and digital effects people in the business who really looked at it the way that The Boys look at the supes. That’s the DNA that they took on.

We’re all “The Boys” on set and the supes are Marvel. So we took on this “Fuck you, we’re going to do something just as good and groundbreaking.” And if we could do it better, then so be it. Now, people compare Marvel to us, which is a shift that happened around seasons two and three. I couldn’t believe the conversations I was witnessing, especially on Twitter. People were saying, “Why can’t Marvel be more like The Boys? Why can’t we have them be more realistic, more gritty, more bone-breaking, more back-breaking, just a little more grounded in reality?” And listen, my hat’s off to them, I still think Marvel is fantastic and whenever they have movies, I always watch them. But it feels good that we were able to give the audience something different as opposed to trying to go head-to-head and be better.

All three seasons of The Boys are streaming only on Prime Video!

Follow writer Guy Dolbey on Twitter: @guymrdth

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