GEN V’s Eric Kripke and Michele Fazekas on Jensen Ackles’ Soldier Boy Improv and Cate’s Mind

Spoiler Alert

Gen V’s sixth episode is an incredible mixed bag of revelation, heartbreak, a hot hookup, and a splash of humor thanks to Soldier Boy. Marie, Jordan, and Andre get more than they bargained for after ending up in the recesses of Cate’s mind. Their darkest secrets come to light and they leave with a deeper understanding of why Cate betrayed them. Now more than ever, the God U crew is a united front determined to take down Dean Shetty and her cohorts at all costs. We caught up with Gen V showrunner Eric Kripke and executive producer Michele Fazekas to chat about that Soldier Boy scene, the Taylor Lautner cameo that almost happened, creating Cate’s world, and much more. 

Soldier Boy standing in the woods in Gen V episode
Prime Video

Nerdist: Gen V does a great job of capturing all the wonderful things we love about The Boys, but it also feels wholly unique. What were some of your guiding principles and goals when you started crafting this series? 

Eric Kripke: Thanks for saying that because it is very intentional. [The Boys and Gen V] need to live as their own shows that have their own reasons for being beyond money, you know? We were really scared of appearing like we were selling out… In The Boys, the superpowers are a metaphor for the broadest possible social issues. They’re metaphors for celebrity and authoritarianism and fascism, and so as we were developing [Gen V], we said we should continue to use those metaphors, but we should use them for what young people are going through, and their own specific character and psychological issues.

Buffy was a really inspiring show for me in my developmental years and the way it used the metaphor of high school as literally hell was really smart. The idea that these powers you have are both advantageous to you, but also that wounds that you’re carrying around, felt like a good way into this story.

Michele Fazekas: One thing I recognized very early was the heroes in Gen V would be the villains in The Boys, but we’re getting to them before they’ve been corrupted. And so we actually get to see that moment that everyone deals with in adolescence of, “What kind of person am I going to be? Now that I don’t have my parents telling me what to do, I get to decide what I want to do.” You see that very important moment in these kids’ lives, but they just happen to be superheroes.

And we definitely see a lot of important moments of growth and discovery in episode six. It really takes us into some dark places for all of the characters, but specifically for Cate because we get to live in her mind and see her past experiences in such an interesting way. What went into creating those sequences from a visual and a storytelling perspective?

Fazekas: From a storytelling perspective, we really liked the idea of looking at these key moments in Cate’s life and letting our characters live through them with her. These were the things that shaped who she is, that maybe tell you why she betrayed her friends in such a huge way. She’s not just evil, she had reasons, and this sort of brings you to who she is as a person, so you have maybe a better understanding of her.

And visually, it was a big undertaking. How do we show a world that is a dream world? It’s like the world is crumbling around her, but we’ve seen a lot of dream worlds. So I think the challenge is, how do you do it in a way that you don’t feel like I’ve seen it a million times? So it was a lot developed with our visual effects team… What will look cool? What will look unique?

Cate Dunlap sits in her room in gen v
Prime Video

It came together beautifully. Of course I have to ask about Soldier Boy! Can you talk about what went into the decision to bring him back and what was it like crafting the dialogue? Every word that comes out of his mouth is absolutely hilarious and on brand.

Kripke: Yeah, a lot of that is from Jensen [Ackles]. The part called for Cate’s imaginary crush to guide [the group] into her mindscape. In a very early draft of the script, it was Taylor Lautner. So [in the episode] it’s like, “Taylor Lautner, what are you doing here?” And then it’s, “Oh, I’m Cate’s crush and here’s the rules of the world,” and then he explodes.

I love it!

Kripke: I forget whether we even brought it to Taylor Lautner or, very wisely, he passed, but suddenly Taylor Lautner wasn’t on the table. And we were trying to get Soldier Boy into the spinoff and we said, “Well, this is actually the perfect spot because he can be alive and well in a dream sequence, whereas in the reality of the show, he’s unconscious in a CIA basement somewhere.”

And so I called him and I said, “You’re suiting up. We need you.” He was awesome as always. He was shooting this show, Big Sky, and he moved around his dates and came in. His only request was, “It needs to be funnier.” And I said, “Totally,” and I was actually going to be there in Toronto at the time anyway. So I’m like, “I will be on set, I will be standing next to the camera, and you and I will riff until you are happy.” 

It was one of the most fun days I’ve had on a set. He’s there, I’m right behind the camera, and we’re just rolling. And he’s like, “What if I say this?” I’m like, “Say it.” And then, “What if you say this?” We must’ve come up with 100 euphemisms for jerking off, and we’ve only used 10% of them. It was a blast because he’s so good at improv, he always has been, so it was just him and I throwing stuff back and forth and rolling film on it.

Jensen Ackles is Soldier Boy in Gen V
Prime Video

I love that. So what can fans expect from these final two episodes of Gen V?

Fazekas: …Everything races to a head and everyone’s been set on these paths, especially Cate, because Cate sort of breaks. And then her friends have to decide, what side are we going to be on here? Because sides are going to form. We had to set up something to launch us into season four of The Boys, and so we did that as well. There’s a handoff between our show and their show.

Oooh that’s so exciting! Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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