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Stormfront actress Aya Cash reflects on inhabiting modern Nazism on The Boys

‘In some ways, it [was] just as horrifying as watching her’

Stormfront holds up her social media phone on The Boys season 2 Photo: Jasper Savage/Amazon Studios
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

The Boys panel at this year’s all-digital New York Comic Con was more of a victory lap. With the final episode set to air on Friday, the cast and creator Eric Kripke united to answer fan questions. The submissions ranged from fascinating (the production hired the sign language expert from The Shape of Water to invent and teach Karen Fukuhara Kimiko’s unique silent form of communication) to tight-lipped (the hardest scene Karl Urban shot this season is ... in the finale!) to the bizarre.

A five-minute long conversation about Mother’s Milk’s fight with the preposterously well-endowed Love Sausage (who’s expected to return for another brawl in future seasons) was a cameo appearance by self-professed Boys fanatic Shaquille O’Neal, who flipped through Instagram video filters as he bellowed his group question. It was weird. It was very The Boys.

While Kripke didn’t speak on what to expect from season 3 or the recently announced spinoff series, which will focus on college life in The Boys universe (!), he did relay a provocative question for season 2 newbie Aya Cash. Cash entered this season as a new member of the Seven, Stormfront, and while feminist and social-media-friendly on the surface, her actions spoke louder than words. Deep down in Stormfront was a racist, violent soul gifted near-unlimited power — the makings of a true villain.

As a fan asked, “How is it to play a person that’s so completely the opposite of who you are IRL?”

“In some ways, it’s fun,” Cash admitted, “and in some ways, it’s just as horrifying as watching her. So when there are moments where I have to do really terrible, awful things, it doesn’t necessarily feel good on the day.”

In the most recent episode, it’s revealed that Stormfront isn’t just a neo-Nazi echoing the white supremacist YouTubers that are all too common in the Trump era, she’s a literal Nazi, whose superhuman powers allowed her to remain ageless despite being a confidante of Hitler during World War II. And the love of her life back in the day? Frederick Vought, who invented Compound V in hopes of creating a master race.

As Kripke noted on the panel, the various twists to Stormfront’s story were met with familiar online fury. Many were worried about the show’s penchant for killing off characters of color after Stormfront’s berserk attack on Kimiko’s brother Kenji. The reveal of her actual Nazi heritage seemed to provoke even more of a reaction, per the creator. Did any of the social media reactions reach Cash?

With a sigh of the relief, the actress admitted that she doesn’t read most of the feedback online, “and I think that’s probably healthy.” Cash recognizes that there may be more to the various controversies of the season than just the storytelling; the show was infamously review-bombed on Amazon due to the decision to roll each episode out week-to-week (versus the binge model) and the choice may have taken a toll on viewers’ patience for Stormfront.

“People are making sort of judgments before they have seen the arc of the season,” she said. “But I think it’s important to show her humanity in the beginning, because this sort of hatred is wrapped up in these pretty packages these days, and it’s not necessarily people flag waving, although those people exist as well. There’s a more insidious sort of manipulation that is happening that I think The Boys is pointing at with Stormfront, by making her sort of cute and sweet in the beginning. So people who are so outraged with the turn, hopefully once they’ve seen the entire season, and can look back on what’s happened to her, see that it’s not a glorification. The banality of evil is real and not all villains are going to be mustache-twirling and tell it to your face. There’s a lot of manipulation going on.”

The good news is that Cash had plenty of good days on the set of The Boys, too.

“Sometimes it’s just a blast. Some of the most fun that I had on set was that day where I’m chasing Kimiko and Kenji around, and because Karen and Abraham are such a blast to work with. We were singing and dancing and playing around the whole day up until those moments where the horror happens. So it’s a mix.”

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