‘The Boys’ Actor Karen Fukuhara on Her Character’s Growth and Returning to Set

See how Fukuhara portrays a character with little dialogue and how the writers of “The Boys” keep her on her toes. (Photos courtesy of Amazon Studios.)

Gore, guts and biting social commentary — these are just some of the things audiences should expect in the latest season of the Amazon Studios series, “The Boys.” The show returns for its fourth installment today, June 13, and continues to follow the ragtag group of vigilantes known as The Boys as they face off against the increasingly unhinged superhero, Homelander, and the megacorporation, Vought.

Based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, the live-action adaptation is helmed by “Supernatural” creator Eric Kripke. The series features an array of diverse characters with actors Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher, Chace Crawford, Laz Alonso, Tomer Capone, Nathan Mitchell and Karen Fukuhara rounding out the cast.

Fukuhara returns this season as the fan-favorite vigilante, Kimiko Miyashiro. With her regenerative abilities and superhuman strength, Kimiko began as an unnamed human weapon to one of the show’s most beloved characters but has gone through a slow yet entertaining arc. Fukuhara sat down with Character Media to discuss how she feels about returning to the series for a fourth season and how Kimiko’s nonverbal communication highlights the character’s importance. 

Fukuhara plays super-powered vigilante Kimiko Miyashiro. (Photo courtesy Amazon Studios.)

Character Media: The show has been running for four seasons now. How did it feel going back to the set, especially seeing how Kimiko has grown throughout the series?

Karen Fukuhara: This is my first TV show, so I didn’t really know what to expect going from season to season [and] coming back to the same show year after year. [But] with COVID, the strike and everything, we’ve had gaps in between. But I’ve been with the same cast and crew for five to six years — going on seven — and it’s just awesome. You build this connection with each person and also with your character. It’s special, step[ping] away from your character and then going back and discovering new things about them. 

The writers always keep us on our toes. It’s new; it’s refreshing. I love being on a show that’s current and addresses the social issues that I think are important. I do love working on something that I get to return back to year after year.  

Kimiko with teammates Frenchie (Tomer Capone) and Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso). (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.)

CM: How do you approach portraying characters with little or no spoken dialogue, like Kimiko? Has it gotten easier throughout the seasons?

KF: It was definitely shocking and weird, especially during the audition process. When I first got the script, my character [was] not in the pilot episode; [Kimiko] didn’t appear. And then the sides that I got were nonverbal — it’s the scene between Frenchie and Kimiko, and she’s begging Frenchie to release her, but she doesn’t have any dialogue per se. So, as an actor, I was like “I don’t really understand this character. I’m not sure what to do with it. I don’t know how to play Kimiko at all.” I mean, she didn’t even have a name back then; her name was “The Female.”

But then, I got to working, and I felt this weird connection. It came very naturally to me. After a few rehearsals with my best friend — who wasn’t even an actor — I felt this strong connection to [Kimiko], funnily enough. Once I got the role, I read all the comics. I had a meeting with Eric Kripke, our showrunner. Luckily, he wanted to go in-depth about why she is the human being that she is, and he gave her a name; he humanized her. I’m so appreciative of that because now I have things to work with.

CM: Where do you hope to see Kimiko’s story go in the future, especially with her past being such a huge part of this season’s plot?

KF: It’s exciting! The question that I get the most: “When will she speak? Is she going to speak?” And I don’t even know the answer to that. We’re kept in the dark a lot more than fans realize. I’m torn because her nonverbal communication is what makes her special, and it makes her stand out as a character in the series. I have built this really close connection with my sign language coach, Amanda. I love her to death, and the thought of not having her there with me — it would break my heart. I’m torn, but we’ll just have to see where the story goes. I like to say that even though [Kimiko’s] communication is not audible, she still speaks volumes. 

In the original comic book series, Fukuhara’s character was known as “The Female.” (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.)

CM: What are you most excited for fans to see in this latest season?

KF: I’m very excited for the fans to see the newer characters. Valorie Curry, who plays Firecracker, is amazing; you know when you read a script, and then the actor that plays [the character] is perfect, and they exceed all expectations of what you have in your mind? Susan Heyward, who plays Sister Sage, is amazing. And Jeffrey Dean Morgan — he’s a fan favorite, and I’m sure the “Supernatural” fans are excited to see who he’s playing. And similarly, Rob Benedict; he has a crazy sequence that Frenchie and Kimiko are part of. I’m just excited for fans to see new characters come to life, and they’re ridiculous and nuanced. 

CM: As we all know, Asian American representation is so important; but, do you ever feel burdened by the responsibility of having to discuss representation when it’s not expected of white actors?

KF: Great question. I struggled with this [feeling] years ago, [but] I no longer feel this way. I don’t even want to use the word burden [because] I don’t think it was a burden at all. Maybe this is a part of our culture as well. I just felt like I wasn’t the right person for the job. I felt [like] there were experts on [representation] — people who had spent years researching this subject, [like] historians and political activists. I just felt like, “I’m only an actor; I don’t have a wealth of knowledge like these other experts do.” It’s not so much a burden; I’m happy to do it. But I do realize the importance of me and other actors talking about it. It’s a numbers game as well; it’s visibility. It’s not that we’re taking time away from other experts; it’s just adding airtime [and] more information that can be accessible out there. But I really struggled with it, especially after “Suicide Squad,” when I was new to interviewing. 

Throughout the series, Kimiko has grown to be an integral part of “The Boys.” (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.)

CM: Last one. Are there any exciting upcoming roles or projects that you can talk about?

KF: Yes! I’m going to be a part of a film called “Stone Cold Fox.” It’s led by Kiernan Shipka; Jamie Chung is in it. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say this, but it’s like a lesbian cult film and action-packed. I’m very excited to film that next month! 

This article will appear in Character Media’s Annual 2024 Issue. Read our 2023 issue here.