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Why Starlight from The Boys looks so familiar

Coming in strong on The Boys' pilot episode, "The Name of the Game," the introduction of Starlight — aka Annie January — plays out as a sort of worst-case scenario of the old adage "never meet your heroes." Treating viewers to a flyover country-centric look at the world of celebrity, Starlight gives audience members a vicarious glimpse into the perceived powerlessness that can come with fame, a bevy of fresh takes on the loss of optimism, and a whole new lens through which to hate Aquaman.

Starlight is portrayed in the Amazon Prime series by actress Erin Moriarty, who, while certainly being a great performer, has a name that would fit a real-life supervillain. A native New Yorker, Moriarty has been popping up on the big and small screen for more than a decade. So, if you've been watching The Boys — which dropped its second season on Amazon Prime Video on September 4, 2020 — and wondering why Moriarty looks so familiar, you're certainly not alone.

Erin Moriarty's acting beginnings

Moriarty's first credited role came in 2010, with a multi-episode arc on One Life to Live. Still a teenager at the time, Moriarty played head cheerleader Whitney Bennett, a character who's asked to the Llanview High School prom by heartthrob Nate Salinger (Lenny Platt) in an attempt to move past his infatuation with Danielle Rayburn (Kelley Missal) after Matthew Buchanan (Eddie Alderson) swooped in and blocked his advances ... not that any of that is even necessary to recap, since One Life to Live has kept decades-old storylines in the foreground of the public consciousness at all times, right?

From there, Moriarty had a one-off role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, appearing as Dru on the 2011 episode "Flight." The following year brought Moriarty her first feature film gig, playing Chelsea McAllister in the Akiva Schaffer-directed sci-fi comedy The Watch, starring Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughn, and Richard Ayoade. (Moriarty's Chelsea was the teenage daughter of Vaughn's character Bob, who constantly spied on her.) 

Then, in 2013, Moriarty landed a role on the ABC drama series Red Widow as Natalie Walraven, the daughter of series protagonist and aspiring marijuana smuggler Marta (Radha Mitchell). The series ran for just eight episodes.

You might recognize Erin Moriarty from her role on True Detective

Continuing her work in the television world, Moriarty booked a small but significant role on what many consider one of the best TV shows ever made: True Detective. On the much-loved first season of creator Nic Pizzolatto's gritty anthology crime drama, the actress played the teenage and young adult version of Audrey Hart, the elder daughter of Woody Harrelson's Detective Martin "Marty" Hart. I Kill Giants and The Conjuring 2 actress Madison Wolfe embodied young Audrey on earlier episodes, as the first season of True Detective spanned many, many years — from 1995 to 2012. 

In saying that, Moriarty herself looked fairly different throughout her short run on True Detective. During the points where the story was being told during Audrey's rebellious teen years, the actress donned dark eye makeup, black nail polish, fishnet tops and tights, and punk-ish hairstyles. Later, as the season neared its end, Moriarty's Audrey was fresh-faced and more mature.

The Boys isn't Erin Moriarty's first superhero rodeo

For seven episodes of Marvel's Jessica JonesMoriarty appeared as Hope Shlottman, a victim of Kilgrave (David Tennant) who was forced to kill her own parents. A New York University student who seeks the counsel of Jessica Jones' (Krysten Ritter) detective agency Alias Investigations, Hope ends up developing a meaningful friendship with Jessica, who has her own harrowing past with Kilgrave. Sadly, things don't end well for Hope, but what happens to the young woman pushes Jessica to work harder and be that much more fearless in her quest to take down Kilgrave for good.

Following her stint on Jessica Jones, Moriarty portrayed the daughter of Mel Gibson's character in 2016's Blood Father – a film that bravely asked the question, "How much of Taken can we borrow?" In 2018, Moriarty showed up in two motion pictures. The first, Driven, told the story of the DeLorean scandal of the 1980s. Monster Party was the second offering of the year, and saw Moriarty as an upper-cruster at the business end of a high-stakes Malibu heist, quite possibly with a terrible secret.

For now, Moriarty's schedule looks to be pretty full, thanks to her recurring role on The Boys. While Starlight's fate is very much up in the air heading into season 2 — what with the series' predilection for violent superhero deaths – a third season has already been ordered, and the door is (for now) still open for years of bio-luminescent justice.