Meet the Aussie actress with the mind-blowing role in Amazon’s The Boys

Meet the Aussie actress with the mind-blowing role in Amazon’s The Boys

Claudia Doumit says her role as congresswoman Victoria Neuman on the superhero parody series The Boys is “so much fun”. Not because she gets to play the leader of a government agency set up to rein in the power of the “Supes” – a breed of superpowered individuals created in a lab by military-entertainment conglomerate Vought Industries – but because she has a secret superpower of her own that’s literally mind-blowing.

“Whenever someone recognises me from the show they don’t say, ‘Oh you’re Neuman, that political woman’, they go, ‘Oh, you’re the head popper’,” she says. “It’s such a funny term, but it’s endlessly enjoyable.”

Australian actress Claudia Doumit as Victoria Neuman in season three of The Boys.Credit:Prime Video

The Boys is one of the sleeper hits of the streaming era, launched with little fanfare on Amazon’s Prime Video platform in July 2019 and now back for a much-anticipated third season. It delivers plenty of superhero moments and gore, gross-out comedy and sharp satire about the state of big business, the entertainment industry, the military-industrial complex and America’s fixation on messianic leaders. It’s one of the smartest shows on television right now.

So, how did a woman from Sydney, the daughter of a Lebanese-Australian hairdresser father and an Italian-Australian make-up artist mother, come to land a role on such a hot property?

The short answer is she had worked on Timeless, an earlier show from The Boys creator Eric Kripke. The longer answer is she has been in LA since she was 19, slowly working her way up to a part like this.

“It was a bloody hard slog,” says Doumit, who is sandwiched on a couch between her co-stars Chace Crawford, who plays aquatic superhero The Deep, and Jack Quaid, a civilian driven to take down the Supes after his girlfriend is killed by one of them.

Jack Quaid, left, is a member of a group of vigilantes trying to rid the world of Supes.Credit:Amazon Prime

Knocked back by all Australia’s top drama schools, Doumit found a private class and enrolled without telling her parents. “My mum said to me one day, ‘Your schedule’s a bit off’. I just told her, ‘Listen, I’ve dropped out of school and I’m taking acting classes’. And she did the best thing as a parent – she took me aside and said, ‘If you want to act, let’s be serious about it’.

“She told me to talk to every mentor I’ve had, every teacher I’d had, to ask their advice. And every single one of them said, ‘You should go where there’s opportunity – go to London, go to Los Angeles, go to New York, wherever you can get your foot in the door’.”

Her mum had a contact in Los Angeles, and helped get a meeting with a manager who said she loved her energy – “what an LA thing to say,” quips Quaid – and told her to get an accent, get a green card and that she’d love to represent her.

“And me being clueless at the time, I thought, I’ll be back in three months,” says Doumit. “A year later I came back with a half-baked accent and a student visa and I went to a two-year acting conservatory … I got little jobs here and there and then I landed bigger ones and here I am.”

Who’s your girlfriend? The Deep (Chace Crawford) and Cassandra (Katy Breier).Credit:Amazon Prime Video

And what of the path to acting for Jack Quaid, son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid? “Coming from hairdresser parents myself,” he begins before taking the more serious route. “No, they neither encouraged nor discouraged me, really.

“I felt fortunate growing up in that household because when you say you’re going to be an actor to your parents, oftentimes the answer is, ‘Well, why don’t you do something more sustainable or something a little safer?’ But they understood what it meant. And once they knew that it’s something I wanted to pursue, they were very encouraging.”

Given that The Boys manages to tick all the required genre boxes at the same time as it works the social allegory lines, how does the cast approach it – as a bit of over-the-top fun, or as something serious?

“It’s both to me,” says Quaid. “The world is really screwed up right now, and I like that I’m in a show that gets to comment on that. It’s very cathartic to be able to actually say something when you go to work. At the same time, there’s a scene where we drive a speedboat through a whale. I love that we can do both – have our whale and drive a speedboat through it too.”

The storytelling possibilities are endless, says Crawford, who was best known as the heartthrob Nate Archibald in the original Gossip Girl before his role as oversexed, needy, fish-brained superhero The Deep.

“Eric Kripke says the mantra in the writing room is that what’s bad for the world is great for the show,” he says. “He’s drawing from all this real-life stuff and somehow when the show comes out it still dovetails with what’s actually happening. It’s kind of crazy.”

The Boys is on Amazon Prime Video.

Email the author at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin

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