In a show called The Boys, you might not expect the physically strongest of the bunch to be the Female of the Species (the character’s name from the original comics). Kimiko, as she’s known in the Prime Video series, is portrayed by Karen Fukuhara, who breathes both ferocity and a traumatized kind of childlike innocence into the superpowered vigilante.
But at the start of her prep work for the role, Fukuhara shares that her initial conception of the character from the comics was completely different from showrunner Eric Kripke’s eventual vision.
When asked about how she found the movement and demeanor of the character, Fukuhara explains, “A lot of it was from the comics. I read all of them. There are so many volumes, and I read them so quickly. She has such a distinct look. So a lot of it was not up to question…In the beginning, I thought she had either DID, so like a split personality, or maybe she was a little bit of a sociopath. Because in the comics, she’s just kind of a stone-cold killer, and she’s not really given backstory.”
Given the Female’s portrayal in the comics and the fact that Fukuhara’s audition script contained no lines of dialogue, this is a reasonable conclusion.
Fukuhara continues, “After my first meeting with Eric, he said, ‘Completely wrong.’” She laughs. “He wanted Kimiko to be a normal girl that was put into these unfortunate circumstances, and she’s just trying desperately to survive. In another world, Kimiko would be enjoying the K-pop bands and the musicals and dating and eating good food and being a normal girl…For her movements, Eric wanted her to be like the little girl from Wolverine. Very low to the ground, very feral…Once I heard that, I went to the dog shelter and looked around. It actually also helped me for how someone would feel if they were caged because a lot of the season one scenes were in captivity.”
Fukuhara also has a background in martial arts and performs many of her own stunts. Combined with her effusively sunny demeanor, it’s hard to imagine anyone else portraying the duality of Kimiko’s personality, but Fukuhara shares that the writers may not have been aware of her abilities at the start.
“In the audition, there was no fighting portion. So I don’t think they knew that I could move. But Eric has a wonderful way of learning about every actors’ quirks and skillsets. I think that’s why Erin was singing in season two,” shares Fukuhara. “A funny one is Black Noir, Nathan [Mitchell]—Eric found out that Nathan had a nut allergy on our way to San Diego Comic Con one year. And he was like, ‘That’s brilliant. We’ll put that in.’ And so that’s in the show. Perhaps in conversation I had mentioned that I grew up doing karate, and so he knew I could move, and I always want to do my own stunts whenever I can, whenever I feel is right for the character.”
Though Kimiko is physically the strongest of the boys at the start, Fukuhara also considers her the strongest in spirit.
“I think I am,” she says carefully. “I’m not sure. I might be tooting my own horn, but I really love Kimiko and she’s been through a lot. She’s been kidnapped. She went through this terrorist organization camp. She had to go through physical training. She lost her brother. She’s all alone in this world. She can’t speak and still doing her thing. Still smiling. I really think that Kimiko is one of the strongest people in the world.”
That’s case closed for me personally until we get season four!
Listen to the full conversation below: