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The Transformation Of Antony Starr From Childhood To The Boys

He might play a peroxide blonde, all-American superhero in the Amazon drama "The Boys," but it may shock Amazon Prime viewers to learn that actor Antony Starr is actually from New Zealand and that he's actually a brunette whose hair is dyed for his character's portrayal (via TV Line). That's how much he tries to embody Homelander, a corrupt and powerful corporate lackey and supposed crusader whose megalomania is only matched by his impulsive violence. In an interview, Starr explained to Collider that the key to his reading of Homelander is that "I've always viewed him, right off the bat, as the weakest character on the show, emotionally and maybe arguably spiritually."

The, um, "superhero" character has served as his breakout role Stateside, but Starr has been working steadily for more than two decades in movies and television. The actor kicked off his career with a famous New Zealand sword and sorcery series, appeared in a Seth Green 2000s comedy, and anchored a Cinemax cult action drama. This is how Antony Starr went from a young teenager appearing in Kiwi television productions to starring in "The Boys."

Starr just sort of fell into acting as a teenager

Not much is publicly known about Antony Starr's childhood, but it seems safe to assume that he had a normal time growing up in New Zealand. It's only when he first began acting that we know much of anything happening. Starr's first real acting role was in the beloved series "Xena: Warrior Princess," and the production took place largely in his native New Zealand (via GQ). The young actor first played a centaur, claiming that they "put me in tights and made me stand in front of a green screen pretending to be a horse with some weird skippy gallop." Later, at the age of 21, he guest-starred again as the biblical character David for an episode called "The Giant Killer."

However, Starr said of the role to Entertainment Weekly, "I'd never acted before. I just sort of winged it through the audition and then ended up on a TV set on this show." It was too late for the actor to recognize that he didn't yet know what he was doing on camera. Lucy Lawless tried to be encouraging about his skills, but Starr told GQ, "You could see it in the episode; it was really bad." After his credits in "Xena: Warrior Princess" in 1995 and 1996, Antony Starr didn't have another IMDb credit until 2000 with the series "Street Legal." His breakthrough in his native country was yet to come.

International productions filmed in New Zealand helped him land film roles

Starr largely stuck to making television in New Zealand, but he did have small but crucial roles in the widely released films "Without A Paddle" and "The World's Fastest Indian," released in 2004 and 2005 respectively. This was likely because both films were shot around the country, as "Without A Paddle" used New Zealand as a stand-in for Oregon (via Stuff). When speaking with Interview Magazine, Starr touched on how many movies were filmed in New Zealand for tax purposes, which helped local actors like him get a job.

In the 2004 gross-out comedy "Without A Paddle," Starr plays Billy, the fearless childhood friend of Jerry (Matthew Lillard), Dan (Seth Green), and Tom (Dax Shepard). Billy dies at the beginning of the movie in an accident and is only seen a few times. The film's journey is kicked off when the trio finds Billy's map leading to the lost treasure of hijacker D.B. Cooper, and they resolve to find it themselves.

"The World's Fastest Indian" is actually a biopic of New Zealand speed bike racer Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins), so the film was shot on location (via New Zealand), as well as in Utah (via Jacob Barlow). Starr's role as Jeff, a fellow biker, isn't substantial, but he was also happy to get a few weeks of work while watching Hopkins perform. The actor told the New Zealand Film Commission that Hopkins was "the best person I've been around, acting-wise."

His first major role was playing twin brothers in a hit Kiwi drama

After the drama "Street Legal" aired, Starr landed a number of television parts in New Zealand, including roles in "Shortland Street," "Hard Out," and "Mercy Peak." But the 2005 crime dramedy series "Outrageous Fortune" is where the actor became an overnight success in his home country. The show, about a crime family trying to go straight, features Starr in a dual role as twin brothers — one a smart businessman, the other a bumbling criminal. "Outrageous Fortune" ran for six seasons on New Zealand channel TV3 and was a huge success, winning more than 50 various awards throughout its run (via South Pacific Pictures).

Starr credited the trickery of his performance with teaching him how television works. He told GQ, "So, having to do scenes with myself, in which I had to work out both sides with the story elements and how it fits, really gave me a different insight into how shows are put together." After the show ended in 2010, Starr did more television series in New Zealand and Australia, including "Lowdown" and "Tricky Business." Starr's role in "Outrageous Fortune" earned him a lot of fans, especially women, but he remained guarded when talking about the experience and his own romantic life during an interview with nzherald.co.nz in 2010. The actor would land his first big role in a United States production only a few years later. 

Starr got his first American role after falling in love with Banshee's script

While Starr was experiencing quite a lot of success in Australia and New Zealand, he slowly began auditioning for roles in the U.S. He finally read a script that he fell in love with, and soon enough, he was leading a show in his first American role. Starr nabbed the job to play the lead of a gritty action drama on Cinemax called "Banshee." Starr described to Collider how ecstatic he was about the project, saying, "this [script] was the first one where I went, 'Holy, I really want to be a part of this,' because of the material and because of the people involved."

In "Banshee," Starr plays an unnamed criminal who, after serving 15 years in prison for stealing diamonds with his lover Ana (Ivana Miličević), comes to the town of Banshee, Pennsylvania. Ana now has a whole other life and family, including a husband and children, under the alias Carrie. However, Starr's character is able to steal the identity of new Banshee sheriff Lucas Hood (Griff Furst) after he's killed in a bar fight. The new "Hood" decides to stay in town, posing as the dead sheriff while he pursues crime and tries to reconnect with Ana.

Premiering in 2013, "Banshee" ran for four seasons and was critically acclaimed for the strong action scenes and high emotional stakes of the characters. In interviews after it ended, Starr acknowledged being intimidated by the size of Hollywood productions compared to New Zealand (via GQ). But the actor also seems proud of the show, even comparing it to "The Boys" in how "I thought the violence on ['Banshee'] always had a little wink to the audience, a little tongue and cheek ... It's in a lot of things that have a pulpy feel to it" (via Entertainment Weekly).

Starr is now the psychotic Homelander in The Boys

Despite Homelander being his biggest role to date as the breakout character of "The Boys," Starr didn't really want the part at first. He explained to Metro that when his agents sent him the script, "I didn't look at it for a week and a half and then I saw it was a superhero thing and I thought they're not going to pick me anyway, I'm not made for that." He filmed an audition yet he figured a bigger, more athletic actor would get to be the superhero.

Starr was pretty surprised then after his agents told him the producers loved his tape, but he also enjoyed the material itself once he gave it a chance. The series also fits in well with his long career of daring roles in high-concept, often violent television dramas. The actor said, "But, for me anyway, the most important ingredient is fun. If you wanna turn up and have a light, slightly bizarre romp through a show, then you can have that" (via Entertainment Weekly).