Claudia Doumit returns to The Boys ready and more than willing to take her character to the next level.
Australian actress Claudia Doumit caught everyone’s attention when she joined the cast of Amazon Prime’s The Boys for its second season. Before appearing in Eric Kripke’s latest endeavor, Doumit was a regular on his series Timeless which aired on NBC. She can also be seen in Netflix’s Dude and Annapurna Pictures’ Where’d You Go, Bernadette. But it was her portrayal of the up-and-coming, anti-hero politician Victoria Neuman that quickly cemented her as a fan favorite, especially when the finale revealed that her character had powers herself. Luckily for fans, the renewal of the hit superhero show meant a chance to get a deeper look into the character’s past and present. An opportunity Claudia was more than ready for.
The newest season of the Emmy-nominated series returned to the streaming service bigger (read gorier) and better than ever. But the dialled-up intensity was matched by a growth in the emotional depth of the characters leaving viewers unable to look away even though they may have wanted to. For Claudia Doumit’s multifaceted Victoria Neuman this meant delving into her life before politics, her motivations for hiding her powers, and speculation on what she plans to do next. The character is not an easy one to play, but Doumit handles it with natural grace. Speaking with Claudia about her character, felt like listening to someone talk about their friend, making it clear that the actress understands the complicated woman is she portraying and does her best to make sure viewers do as well.
In a conversation full of laughter and giddy excitement, 1883’s Sydney Bolen and Claudia Doumit spoke about why the show is so special, how Doumit relates to her character, what superpowers they would have, and more.
Congratulations on season three. As of today, it is officially out! How are you feeling?
Great. The show looks amazing. It’s absolutely incredible. I’m speechless. I have no idea how they keep churning out incredible season after incredible season. It’s been fun to see all the fan reactions.
I think this is my favourite season. Although, I watched a lot of it through my fingers- more than usual. But I loved it.
This season is definitely more graphic. I feel like I watch every season and think “they can’t top this. There’s no way they can top this” and then they go ahead and do it.
Are you personally a fan of the blood and gore genre that The Boys fits into?
I was raised on that stuff. I grew up watching a lot of blood and gore. It was much to my mother’s dismay, but my dad was very much for it. It’s insane though because this show is still shocking every time.
I don’t think anything comes close to it.
It always goes just one notch above the mark.
Or a few. [both laugh] Going back to season two, one of the final big reveals is your character is “the head popper.” Did you know the whole time, or did you find out gradually, like the audience?
I had no idea I had superpowers until I got that script.
Did that change your approach to the character?
Yes, but it was also incredibly helpful because as an actor I didn’t have to work against knowing that about Neuman. I was just playing the character as I thought she was planned out to be. Getting that nice little surprise at the end was a really fun gift.
The Boys is not very black and white in terms of heroes and villains. How would you characterize Victoria?
I’m always wary of using the word villain in any context, and these characters, as you said, do exist in this morally gray area. I think that the beauty of these characters is that no one is clean-cut or black or white. Everyone exists in this weird sphere where what is right and what is wrong constantly comes into question. I think Neuman can’t afford to see good or bad, especially this season. I think the decisions she makes fall more into the category of necessary.
That’s a good way to put it. Season 3 gets more into her individual story. One thing I think it’s very unique about the character is that she is a mother. How do you think this role affects who she is and how she looks at the world of The Boys?
I think it plays a huge role in her perspective and how she moves throughout this series. We especially see that in the season. Last season she was presented as this unassuming politician coming onto the scene before we got that twist at the end. This season, seeing Victoria as a mother humanizes her actions. Getting a nice dive into her personal life highlights her vulnerabilities and the motives she has, including the fierce protection she has for her daughter. As an actor, that’s where I get to see the justification for a lot of her actions. She does make two hefty sacrifices, one of them being her daughter, which I think is a very difficult moment for her. I think that kills a bit of Neuman’s humanity. It’s a harsh choice she has to make. But ultimately, she doesn’t have the luxury of seeing that as good or bad. As a mother, she sees it as a necessary decision to keep her daughter safe.
It was a really powerful moment for your character. It sobers the episode.
It’s a hard moment. It’s a really soul-crushing moment, but it is necessary.
If you could give Neuman one piece of advice for this season, what would it be?
I would tell her it’s like a band-aid. You’ve just got to rip it off. It’ll hurt for a second. But you’ve got to do it.
I was excited for the show to explore, for however long it did, the relationship between her and Hughie. Especially knowing what the audience knows and what Hughie does not know. Do you think Victoria acted differently around Hughie than she did around other people because of who he was and who he was connected to?
100%. I think Neuman is a very duplicitous character. She is a woman of many masks, and she adjusts those masks depending on who she’s interacting with. The way that she talks to Hughie is going to be vastly different from the way that she has a conversation with Homelander or Starlight because, in every conversation that Neuman has, which is one of the most exciting things to do as an actor, she assesses the other person’s desires and needs and adjusts her approach according to that to gain that person’s trust. She’s very strategic.
As an actor, you kind of get to play a bunch of smaller roles in one.
It’s endlessly exciting! It’s so much fun to do. Whenever I get a script, and I’m reading through it, I think, “Oh, she’s talking to this person! How she would interact with them.”
[both laugh] The Boys is the second show you’ve been in that’s been written or created by Eric Kripke. You were also in Timeless. Out of Victoria and Jiya, who do you personally relate to more?
Oh, who do I relate to more? if I say Neuman, I sound like an insane person!
[laughs] No! I like her. She’s a really cool character.
Look, I don’t relate to Neuman in the head-popping sense. But, I relate to her in – it’s a very exaggerated version, what she does on the show, but – the idea of having to put on a face in certain social situations. I think we all relate to that a bit. Where we’re like, “alright, I’m going to this event. I have to put on this face” or “I’m talking with this person. Now, I have to put this face on.” I think that’s a very human feeling wrapped up in a superhero show.
Which is one of the things that’s so great about The Boys. It exaggerates everything, but in a way that keeps it relatable.
It does. I was joking around the other day and I said The Boys is just modern-day Shakespeare. Because there are such exaggerated ideas and these heightened characters but they’re expressing such deeply human emotions and issues. You know? Sure there’s a giant penis but –
There are a couple of those [both chuckle].
But, we’re also dealing with power, fear, loss, love, heartbreak struggle, and all of those things that just create deeply human moments.
That’s honestly what keeps me coming back, those moments. You were able to do in-person press again for the season, for you how does being able to physically be with some of the cast add to the excitement for the release?
It was so exciting. I really enjoyed being in a room with another person. It was so great to be able to be excited about the show and talk about it with that person right in front of you. It’s just another added layer of excitement for the season. It’s a blast. I enjoyed every minute of it.
I’m excited to see what people think. The Boys is a show that I usually watch with my friends. But, this time I got to watch the whole season early, so I’m ready to see their reactions to certain things.
In Paris, we had a screening, so we got to watch the first episode with a fresh audience.
It was so great to hear everyone’s reactions to each great, fucked up moment. It was so much fun to watch it on this huge screen but to just hear and see everyone else watch it added to the experience. It was amazing.
I’m sure. To end on a lighter note, if you could take compound V and get a superpower what would it be and why?
Teleportation because I live in Los Angeles and my family is in Sydney, Australia. That 14-hour flight is murder.
So, if I could snap my fingers and be in Australia that would save me a lot of time and keep me from losing my mind.
That’s an easy one and for good reason. If I could know beforehand what my superpower was and I liked it, I would probably take Compound V, but if not, I wouldn’t.
Yeah, because you could get a really bad one.
What would you take it for?
Something travel related. It doesn’t have to be teleportation, but getting places faster would be nice.
See, we’re saving the environment because we’re not taking planes.
[both laugh] Yeah, exactly.
The Boys is streaming now on Amazon Prime.
Interview Sydney Bolen
Photography Easton Schirra
Stylist Cristina Ehrlich