Black Noir speaks! “The Boys” star Nathan Mitchell on 'New Noir' and almost going 'down with the character'

The actor talks about his life underneath that suit for four seasons.

Warning: This article contains spoilers from The Boys season 4, episodes 1-7.

The Boys star Nathan Mitchell was surprised to see his character Black Noir on the set of the upcoming DC comics film Superman — or rather, someone who looked an awful lot like Black Noir.

Paparazzi photos leaked from the set of the highly anticipated superhero movie from director James Gunn, revealing a figure dressed all in black and leading David Corenswet's hand-cuffed Man of Steel along the street with a team of soldiers carrying assault rifles.

"I might be missing something, but it is hard for me to imagine another superhero in pop culture right now that looks like Black Noir. The goggles were reminiscent, and the all black," Mitchell tells Entertainment Weekly. "I don't know 100 percent, but the possibility that I could be playing a character that has had an impact to the extent that it inspires an antagonist in a Superman movie, I couldn't have thought or dreamed of that."

Related: The Boys' Eric Kripke unpacks that Jeffrey Dean Morgan season 4 twist

Mitchell played the character of Black Noir for four-going-on-five seasons of The Boys, Amazon's R-rated drama that is definitely not set in the universe of DC Comics, but heavily satirizes superheroes of all ilk. Yet he's the only member of the core cast who's neither seen nor heard. As Black Noir, a dark play on Batman, Mitchell is fully covered, face and all, in a black suit. And because of the tragic backstory to this character (getting his face blown apart in a World War II skirmish...yes, he's that old) Mitchell did not speak on screen for three seasons, using only his body language inside the costume to convey his performance.

That changed with season 4, which is currently rolling on Amazon's Prime Video. Antony Starr's Homelander, this world's equivalent of a Donald Trump-esque Superman, murdered Mitchell's Black Noir in the season 3 finale. But because Mitchell technically never appeared on screen thus far, showrunner Eric Kripke brought him back to play "New Noir," a supe actor paid an obscene amount of money to pretend to be Noir so that the public does not catch on to the fact the old one is dead.

Ahead of the season 4 finale, dropping on Amazon next Thursday, July 18, Mitchell speaks with EW about how he initially thought he would leave The Boys when his character got killed off and returning as Black Noir 2.0.

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<p>Amazon</p> Nathan Mitchell's Black Noir with Chace Crawford's the Deep on 'The Boys' season 4


Nathan Mitchell's Black Noir with Chace Crawford's the Deep on 'The Boys' season 4

Related: Simon Pegg came up with 'Wee Hughie' line for The Boys season 4's emotional scene

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was there ever a moment prior to this season where you thought Black Noir might remove his mask?

NATHAN MITCHELL: When I got the role, I was told this character doesn't speak and that we don't see his face. I took the role with that in mind and I embraced that reality. While I always hoped for it, it was never something that had been brought up as being on the table. All I could do was dive into Noir with everything that I had and see what happened.

I've heard the story from Eric Kripke's point of view about how he told you Noir would be killed off, but that you'd be playing a new character to wear the costume. What's your version of events?

I am not sure what my face was doing, but my heart dropped. Then he was like, "But you're coming back!" For me, it's interesting because you hear actors talk about how you play a role and it becomes a part of you. I have connections to my characters, but I haven't thought too deeply about that. When I found out Noir was dying, damn, it did hit me. I did feel like I was losing someone. Kripke gave me the option of being Noir unmasked in season 3 or unmasked in season 4. My first inclination was to go down with the character because I was so connected to him and have so much love for him. Then I took a day or two to think about it, and I'm like, "It's smarter to be New Noir. I'll be New Noir." But it was a mourning process for me a little bit. Even when we filmed that [death] scene at the end of season 3, at the beginning it felt like someone was dying. That was an experience I didn't think I would have.

I feel like you and Karen [Fukuhara] have been in similar boats in the sense that you both have had characters who can't speak. Has that presented unique acting challenges that you might not have expected going into it, but that you found through the process?

Yeah, definitely. When I got this role and jumping into it, there was a bit of an adjustment period and a learning curve, just figuring out how my movements translated in the suit, how a slight tilt of the shoulder contrasted with a big tilt of the shoulder. If I turn my head slowly, how is that different from if I turn my head quickly? What impact does that have on the audience? Once you get it, you can really go on this journey with the character and create an arc and tell a story with subtle movements.

Related: The Boys boss knows a Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki reunion would 'break the internet': 'It's occurred to me'

How much of New Noir's backstory did you get over the course of filming the series?

We talked a little bit about Old Noir, but the focus was really on where he was in the present. We touched on, [New Noir] is from Godolkin [the supe college from spinoff series Gen V]. He's this actor who has never had the success that he's wanted to have. He's made some progress — he's done Cirque du Vought [a parody of Cirque du Soleil] — but his career isn't really where he wants it to be. Then all of a sudden this opportunity comes about. He is like, "What else am I doing?" So he jumps in and realizes it's more than he bargained for.

Amazon released a fake video of your character's audition tape to become New Noir. Did that in some ways help you wrap your head around who this character was? 

We did that closer to the end of the season, but all of those inklings were really in how I was approaching the role. It's a trope on the dark side of acting where people dive in to the point of doing some things that aren't that great. That's something we explore with Noir, and it's an interesting take.

Did you end up shooting a lot of material like that?

We did that and maybe one other thing. So we will see if that other thing comes out.

You shot your first scene without the mask last week [for episode 6]. Just because of camera angles and the amount of shots showrunners need for the edit, were there really specific things you had to now worry about for New Noir that you didn't have to worry about for Old Noir?

It was kind of the opposite. I could be feeling things underneath the mask, but I had to be mindful that I was translating my feelings into my physicality. So there are ways in which I was more mindful when I was filming as Old Noir.

This week we see New Noir fly for the first time in a fight sequence with Butcher [Karl Urban], Starlight [Erin Moriarty], and the Deep [Chace Crawford]. Was that actually you in the harness?

Honestly, I wish I could say I was in the harness. We have a great stunt team that we wouldn't be able to do any of this without. While that's something I'd love to do, sometimes there are technical realities on the day that we have to adhere to. I'd love to be flying, as uncomfortable as I hear it is, but on the day we only had so much time to get certain shots to make it happen.

<p>Amazon</p> Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir on 'The Boys' season 2


Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir on 'The Boys' season 2

Related: The Boys used a Cecily Strong SNL sketch as inspiration for Starlight storyline

Kripke says he really wants to do more scenes with you without the mask on as the New Noir. Did you guys talk at all about the fifth and final season? 

We have talked a little bit. I'm very excited about the things he's mentioned. I had a few ideas, and then he shared with me what he was thinking. I was like, "Whoa! That's cooler than what I was thinking of." I can't wait to jump in and do that.

How have you guys been digesting that the fifth season will be the last?

Eric's original plan was always to have five seasons, so we had an idea in the back of our minds that was likely. Some of us may have wished for a sixth, just because we love spending time together. I just love being in this family so much, but I really appreciate and respect the commitment to telling a good story and not dragging it out longer than it needs. While there's a bit of sadness that it is going to come to an end in the next season, it also feels right to a certain degree. We can appreciate this last ride and going out on our own terms.

I think you saw the paparazzi photos that leaked from the Superman movie set showing a Black Noir-esque character. What was your reaction to seeing that?

That was such an honor to see. I might be missing something, but it is hard for me to imagine another superhero in pop culture right now that looks like Black Noir. The goggles were reminiscent and the all black. I don't know 100 percent, but the possibility that I could be playing a character that has had an impact to the extent that it inspires an antagonist in a Superman movie, I couldn't have thought or dreamed of that. It is really cool because, in making a Superman movie, you're also making a case about why Superman is needed and why he matters and why he's relevant. If you're doing it in the modern day in this world in 2024, the discussion around superheroes includes The Boys. So if you're going to make a case for Superman, you have to make a case for Superman in context of a team like the Seven and showing that contrast. I think that's a really smart thing to do, and I'm really excited to see the movie.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.