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The Hilarious Story Behind That Black Noir Scene On The Boys - Exclusive

He might not look like it, but Black Noir leads a rich inner life. The blade-wielding silent assassin of the Seven on Amazon's hit series The Boys spends most of his time on the show basically just serving as the enforcer of his superhero team — and of Homelander's (Antony Starr) will in particular. But for actor Nathan Mitchell, there's a real story behind the mask. 

Mitchell, who's been the man inside Black Noir's dark costume for two seasons now, shared with Looper in an exclusive interview that it's all about reinforcing the character's thoughts and feelings at any given moment through expressive physical details. 

"For season 2, I think there was more opportunity for us to see Noir, so more of his idiosyncrasies and more of his quirkiness was able to be revealed," Mitchell explained. "And I think it was really a continuation of what we were starting to discover in season 1. We just got to see a little bit moreThe thing about Noir is you never really know what to expect."

It's that sense of using the character to defy expectations, often for surprising moments of comedy, that led to Black Noir's big moment on episode 7 of The Boys' second season. 

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Black Noir's real-life weakness

Near the end of the episode "Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker," Black Noir works to subdue Starlight (Erin Moriarty) as she tries to escape Vought Tower, and at first it seems the silent warrior of the Seven has the upper hand. Then Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) steps in and reveals a surprising weakness when she pulls up Noir's mask and shoves an Almond Joy in his mouth. When Starlight reacts with shock while Noir convulses on the floor, Maeve simply responds, "He has a tree nut allergy."

This moment, revealing what's apparently the one thing that will slow Noir down after we've seen so many conventional weapons fail, was inspired by Mitchell's own real-life allergy — something his castmates found out about on a flight to San Diego Comic-Con. 

"I think we were getting on the plane to Comic-Con and I was telling one of the flight attendants I had an allergy, and [Karl Urban, who plays Butcher] was there and he's like, 'Huh, what would happen if you actually had nuts?'" he told Looper. "And I was like, 'Oh, I'd go into anaphylactic shock. It'd be pretty bad, not fun.' And he's like, 'Ah, that's interesting. I'm going to pitch that to [showrunner Eric Kripke].'"

Mitchell continued, sharing a funny anecdote about what happened on that flight. 

"We're on the plane and somebody didn't hear [that I had an allergy], so somebody's eating nuts and I start to smell it. I'm looking around and I don't know where it's coming from. Eventually, I see them and talk to them briefly. They put it away. But by that time, it was in the air, and so I couldn't really get away. So I just put my face underneath my shirt, my nose underneath my shirt," he said. "[Laz Alonso, who plays Mother's Milk] was sitting beside me the whole time, and he'd look over occasionally. And then we landed and I got up. I'm like, 'Oh, finally I can breathe.' He's like, 'What?' I'm like, 'Someone was having nuts, it was giving me a headache.' And he's like, 'Oh, I thought I smelled. I thought you were covering because of me.' And I was like, 'No, no, no, no. That was the nuts.' So it was just a funny little thing. And then yeah, Eric found out and we all decided to run with it."

Running with the decision to shoot a scene based on something that could actually harm him in real life presented an interesting challenge for Mitchell. Though his honest reaction to nut exposure might not be quite as exaggerated as Black Noir's, shooting the sequence required him to find a balance between realism and making it all play for the audience.

"It's funny because in real life, my allergic reaction to nuts is different than that. But because I'm in a mask and in a suit, I knew I had to physicalize it in a different way for the audience. So in a lot of ways, it was art imitating life. Not to that extent, but if it was to happen, it could kind of go down that route," Mitchell explained. "If nightmares can be fun, it was an interesting exploration of what it would be like in that situation and really, really taking that reaction to its extreme. And it was funny because me and [Dominique McElligott, who plays Maeve] were really going all out there and really trying to make that moment real. So it was like, 'Yeah, okay, whatever we got to do to make this real, go for it.' She would just shove it in my mouth, and I had to spit it out and somebody would have to pick it up off the floor. It was a fun, gross mess."

The whole fun, gross mess of The Boys season 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.