Chace wears shirt Kozaburo, jeans vintage Helmut Lang from James Veloria.

Chace Craw­ford has final­ly become a superhero

The Gossip Girl graduate on his role as The Deep in new superhero skewering comedy series The Boys.

When Chace Craw­ford tells me he works out only five days a week for 45 min­utes at a time, I can’t help but laugh. His bicep, a throb­bing can­taloupe, is not the result of my iden­ti­cal gym rou­tine. But he is, after all, play­ing a super­hero for the first time on the new Ama­zon series The Boys. It’s an irrev­er­ent look at what hap­pens when a group of super­heroes are treat­ed like gods and begin abus­ing their super­pow­ers. (Think an Avengers-type of series for the Sausage Par­ty crowd). And what is a super­hero with­out a mel­on-sized bicep?

Craw­ford plays The Deep – an Aqua­man ripoff whose hob­bies include, but are not lim­it­ed to, flex­ing and talk­ing to water-dwelling crea­tures. Still, he seeks to be tak­en seri­ous­ly. Despite being a part of the famed super­hero league The Sev­en, The Deep is con­stant­ly hit with jibes from fel­low supers like Why don’t you ask the dol­phin what hap­pened?” (He does.) Sport­ing a wet­suit as a super­hero cos­tume and talk­ing to sea life doesn’t do him any favours: but it does make for sol­id comedic fodder.

It was sort of a sub­ver­sive look at the super­hero genre even though it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly a super­hero show, but I thought I could bring some­thing to the char­ac­ter that was fun­ny,” Craw­ford tells me on a recent New York after­noon while sit­ting in a Chelsea stu­dio. The Deep, though, is deeply prob­lem­at­ic: he uses his sta­tus to coerce new recruit Starlight (Erin Mori­ar­ty) into giv­ing him a blowjob. He silences her by threat­en­ing to say she attacked him with her pow­ers. For Craw­ford, the assault scene was nerve-wrack­ing: Even though they don’t [explic­it­ly] show any­thing, it’s implied.” 

Just because it’s a super­hero show doesn’t mean we can’t speak on real issues through that lens,” he says. And [the showrun­ner and pro­duc­ers] didn’t want to glo­ri­fy it, they didn’t want to sen­sa­tion­alise it. It was tough, it was a very dark scene.” He’s well aware that with the #MeToo move­ment, The Deep’s behav­iour is famil­iar in a creepy sense.’”

I’m sure it will turn some peo­ple off to the show, but again, that’s their call,” he says, his arms crossed against his chest. “[The showrun­ner and pro­duc­ers] want to deal with these issues head-on with­in the con­text of the show.”

Chace wears shirt vintage Ann Demeulemeester, jeans vintage Vivienne Westwood, both from James Veloria.

And The Deep? He lives life with no con­se­quences: until (spoil­er) he does. Out­side of some dark stuff that goes on, this guy’s pathet­ic. What makes a per­son do some­thing like that?” he says.

Craw­ford, 34, lives in Los Feliz, Los Ange­les where he’s been since 2014. For a while, he had a love-hate rela­tion­ship with LA – he did after all live in New York for sev­en years dur­ing his reign on Gos­sip Girl – but he’s come to love it. I was in West Hol­ly­wood for so long, and I just want­ed to get out and have a switch-up,” Craw­ford says. He’s since become an east LA guy.

The Texas native got his big break star­ring as heart­throb-play­boy Nate Archibald on Gos­sip Girl in 2007. Fol­low­ing the show’s con­clu­sion in 2012, Craw­ford starred in the short-lived 2015 TV series Blood & Oil and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly began tak­ing on more indie film roles, like an abu­sive cop who sleeps with the tit­u­lar Nina in All About Nina and as Charles Manson’s infa­mous right-hand man, Tex Wat­son, in Char­lie Says. With its recent debut gath­er­ing steam, The Boys has quick­ly become his first hit series since Gos­sip Girl.

Craw­ford was imme­di­ate­ly drawn to the project. It was Ama­zon; it was Seth Rogen and Evan Gold­berg and kind of before I even read the script, I knew, I was like, This must be pret­ty inter­est­ing,’” he says.

He hon­est­ly thought his time had passed to play a super­hero, but he was drawn to the com­plex­i­ty of the char­ac­ters and plot. I wasn’t inter­est­ed in play­ing or being in a show where the super­hero themes and tropes were sort of on the nose,” he admits. I wasn’t real­ly inter­est­ed in play­ing the good guy’. [The Boys] was weird and a bizarre show and very dark, very dark comedy.”

Even with his new role, Craw­ford is used to being known as Nate from Gos­sip Girl”. But he’s not both­ered by it. I had the best time on that show and that was such a good expe­ri­ence – it opened a lot of doors,” he says. With the recent announce­ment of the Gos­sip Girl reboot on HBO Max, Craw­ford would even be open to repris­ing his role on the series. Now I’m on [The Boys], and I know [the orig­i­nal cast] all has our own lit­tle things going on, so I would have to work that out. If [the showrun­ners] want­ed to work that out, we could talk about it. I’d def­i­nite­ly be open to that,” he says.

He does, how­ev­er, won­der if the role that launched his career has been a dou­ble-edged sword for him in terms of cast­ing. The only thing I hope that it doesn’t do is close doors,” he admits. I would hope that peo­ple don’t just see me as this guy [Nate] and would always give me an oppor­tu­ni­ty to come in and prove them oth­er­wise, whether that’s in the audi­tion or a meeting.”

The actor’s sta­tus as the heart­throb,” admit­ted­ly, has fol­lowed him. After shoot­ing Char­lie Says, he was told by direc­tor Mary Har­ron that they didn’t want to cast him. It wasn’t because of Gos­sip Girl, but because the way he looks is too pret­ty, too good-look­ing.” What­ev­er their hang-ups, he changed the crew’s minds and the Amer­i­can Psy­cho direc­tor paid him the high­est of com­pli­ments about his audi­tion say­ing, You were just the best one in the room.” Craw­ford has worked hard to prove he’s more than just his chis­eled jaw­line. I can’t change the way I look, [but] you def­i­nite­ly end­ed up get­ting cast for roles that you’re right for.”

That said, Craw­ford will need to main­tain his super­hero physique, pump­ing a bit more juice into those mel­on arms. He’s already in the midst of film­ing a sec­ond sea­son of The Boys in Toron­to. We can final­ly talk about it, we got picked up,” he says with a sigh of relief. We’ve been shoot­ing since June.” The cast, he says, has become like a big fam­i­ly.” It’s a good thing he’s com­fort­able in that wetsuit.

The Boys is now avail­able to stream on Ama­zon Prime. Pho­tog­ra­phy assis­tant Kai Kenyet­tie. Fash­ion assis­tant Nico Grif­fo. Pro­duc­er Ariel­la Stark­man.

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