Rosemarie DeWitt Was Surprised By Season 4 Hughie Mom Role 5

[This story contains spoilers from episode five, season four of The Boys, “Beware the Jabberwock, My Son.”]

From the first episode of The Boys, audiences knew life would be tough to the nerdish and somewhat awkward child-like protagonist Hughie Campbell (played by Jack Quaid).

Devoted followers of the Amazon Prime series know that Hughie’s girlfriend was accidentally killed by a supe during the very first episode, and many know the backstory of Hughie’s mother abandoning him and his father, Hughie Sr. (Simon Pegg), when the future supe vigilante was only 6 years old.

But it would take four seasons of the hit anti-superhero show created by Eric Kripke before audiences would actually get to meet Hughie’s mother, Daphne, played by Rosemarie DeWitt. Daphne pops up in the fourth season after it’s discovered that Hughie Sr. suffered a medical incident and went into coma. But instead of giving power-of-attorney to his son, Hughie’s father gives it to his ex-wife who abandoned him and their son years ago (the two parents reconnected secretly as friends, but never told their son). Hughie is furious, to say the least.

Hughie wants his mother gone, but he also wants to know why she left him years ago. At the same time, the one parent who did take care of him is now in a vegetive state on life support. Hughie doesn’t want to say goodbye. He tells the supe A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), who killed his first girlfriend in the first season, that he will forgive him if he steals Compound-V from Trump-ish character Homelander’s (Antony Starr) living quarters at Vought International. Hughie will inject it into his father to save his life. A-Train delivers.

The Boys viewers discover that Daphne abandoned Hughie because she suffered from deep depression and tried to take her own life once while taking care of her son. She sees that Hughie has the Compound-V, but is having second thoughts about  giving it to his father. To prove her devotion to her son, she injects Hughie Sr. with the drug. And as the saying goes, “things can only get worse before they get better!” Suffice to say, things get worse.

The Hollywood Reporter recently caught up with DeWitt to talk about entering the gory suped-up world of The Boys; getting in tune with her character, a mother who abandoned her young child; and finding ways to cope with some of the most frightening and serious scenes yet with episode five of season four.


How did you learn about the role as Hughie’s mom, Daphne Campbell?

I was so lucky that I literally just got a call to see if I could do it, and if I would do it. And I was like, are you kidding me! It’s the last show in the world I ever expected to get cast on, and then your mind goes crazy to all the fantasies of what you would be doing on the show. It was a really satisfying arc. And it was a really great experience to get to work with Simon [Pegg] and Jack [Quaid]. They’re both awesome actors and awesome people, and I can’t believe how hard they work on that show; the hours they do, just because the spectacle is so large. And some things are outside in Toronto in the winter, it was fun!

Did you know anything about The Boys prior, or the comic book?

I knew about it from the world and it being a cultural phenomenon, and I didn’t quite think it was a show for me. And then I started diving in. And then my husband got totally hooked. Then I started doing more research at that point. It’s so compelling! And to binge, and just watch and watch and watch.

How did you think about approaching your character as Hughie’s mom? Did you come with you own ideas, knowing she abandoned her child when he was 6, or did they lay the groundwork?

They just give you the scripts and you make them your own. I’m old enough now to understand choices and regret. I think so much of her life was defined by the fact that she thought she was a danger to her son, so she stepped away to become a safer person for him, to be able to mother, and then that door shut. And then she had to live with that for her whole life. And I think that guides all the choices, even in the season, with her trying to show up and do the right thing by Hughie Sr.. To honor his wishes; to try to be a support to Hughie, whether he’ll have her or not; and then that decision doesn’t go so well with the Compound-V. But I think her heart is in the right place. I don’t think she was always able to make great decisions, and she’s trying to do them fast with not a lot of guidance here.

So, was she still in love with Hughie Sr. or were they just friends? We know she still loves her son.

I got a sense that it was a sweet kind of love that they would have outgrown, but he was so broken-hearted by the way it went down that he wouldn’t let me back. He was the good parent. He was the mom and the dad, so she had to just respect that.

Do you think Hughie’s mother was going through late PPD or depression? She was thinking about committing suicide when Hughie was 6, and that’s why she left?

I think it maybe got kicked off by postpartum, and then she became a person who suffered from crippling depression. She never treated it, and she was probably a person who needed support and medicine. Maybe it was the time, maybe it was the stigma, but she just didn’t get it. I think it was the suicide attempt that made her think: This isn’t gonna go good for this family. And I don’t even know if it was to get well; I think it was just to get away and remove herself from Hughie, because I think the love is real whether he believed it or not.

Jack Quaid as Hughie in The Boys.

Amazon Studio

Hughie seemed to change his mind about giving his father the Compound-V, but Daphne goes ahead and injects Hughie Sr. with it anyway. Why do you think she did that?

She was only living in the moment, and I think that’s part of her fatal flaw. She doesn’t do a lot of looking at the whole picture in general. I think she thought this could really help him, and that it might make her the hero of Hughie’s story. There is some narcissism in there, and there’s some big gestures she is trying to make. And I think she’s naive about the power of it, and I think she was in way over her head.

Next come the pivotal scenes in episode five, where Hughie Sr. is all V-ed up and he has already killed several people in the hospital. Finally, you and his son corner him in his blood-soaked gown (having seen him rip a beating heart out of someone’s chest). He focuses his ire on you for leaving him and his small son years ago. Scary, fun or both?

Oddly, it was alarming and hysterical all the same time. But I think it’s because of Simon Pegg, because he’s doing bits and being funny when he looks like he’s in a Freddy Krueger movie or something. And it was actually quite easy, too; there wasn’t a lot of acting — if somebody is covered in fake blood screaming at you, you’re going to start crying. You’re going be scared. It does something to your nervous system. I think what was trickier was how to, as an actor, sell the moments where you’re like, what do you do when somebody grabs somebody’s heart out of their chest? None of those old acting exercises work. You just have to go, does this look like a real response?

I love to laugh, so there were some late nights with Jack and Simon where, and I know this is not anybody else’s favorite thing, but when you can’t stop laughing, it’s almost like you’re in high school and you’re getting in trouble in class. I like laughing that hard, and Simon and Jack would make me laugh that hard, and then we’d be doing these serious scenes and the directors would be like, “OK guys, you really need to keep it together. Take a deep breath let’s go again.” And we would just bust up laughing again. Those are some of the best moments, especially when you’re doing heavy stuff.

Tell us about the scene where Hughie had to say goodbye to yet another parent, this time through assisting him with drugs found at the hospital [Hughie’s father was brain dead before given the Compound-V].

It was a real honor as an actor to get to support another actor who’d been with the material for so long. Jack has been living with Hughie for so long and it was such a meaningful arc for his character. It was great to be really in those scenes with him. Those scenes, you kind of forget you’re in a genre piece like The Boys because you’re in scenes about parent loss, and life and death. And the feelings that come up, they just really come up.

Would Daphne ever take Compound-V to protect her son?

It’s funny, somebody else asked me if she would just take it and I said I don’t think she would just take it. But the way you just phrased it, to save Hughie, I think at this point, it’s her biggest regret in life. And I think she would do anything to save Hughie. So, we’ll see.

Does Hughie’s mom really like Annie (Erin Moriarty)?

She likes her! I think she thinks she’s great. I think she’s as seduced as anyone. I think she’s a person who is on all the social media. I think she’s scrolling through TikTok videos and I think she likes Starlight. I think she likes Annie. I mean she gives Hughie her original engagement ring and is like, “Let’s close this deal, let’s do it!

Will there be a role for Daphne Campbell in season five, the final season of The Boys? [Creator and showrunner Eric Kripke told THR that he enjoyed the character and that it’s his hope she will show up in some way in season five: “I can’t imagine finishing the show without seeing her one more time. I think we have to see his mom again, one way or another.”]

Fingers crossed! I don’t know if there’s a reason for her to come back, but I sure had fun playing her.

The Boys streams new episodes of season four Thursdays on Prime Video. Read more with Kripke here, and get your refresher on season three.


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