‘The Boys’ Star Karl Urban Dealt With a Tragic Loss Just Like Butcher

Karl Urban is best known for his role on Prime Video’s superhero satire The Boys, which just wrapped up its third season. He may not be a vengeful vigilante or expert marksman in real life. But he has had to overcome some of the same adversities as his on-screen character, Billy Butcher.

Who does Karl Urban play on ‘The Boys’?

'The Boys' cast member Karl Urban standing in front of a SXSW backdrop
Karl Urban | Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

On The Boys, Urban plays Butcher, a gruff, Cockney-accented vigilante with a personal vendetta against superpowered individuals. Butcher’s mysterious past is explored throughout the series. But his intentions always remain murky. 

Butcher is a relentless, unpredictable mercenary who will stop at nothing to bring down Homelander (Antony Starr) after the superhero kidnapped his wife, Becca. Now the self-proclaimed leader of The Boys, Butcher works alongside Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capone), Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), and Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid). They aim to expose the dark secrets of corrupt corporation Vought, as well as its equally corrupt team of heroes, The Seven.

Like Butcher, Karl Urban has dealt with loss

Outside of The Boys, fans might recognize Urban from another major franchise: Star Trek. Urban played Dr. Leonard McCoy in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek movie reboot and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. He then reprised his role in 2016 for director Justin Lin’s Star Trek Beyond.

Urban starred alongside Chris Pine, who played Captain James T. Kirk, as well as Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldaña (Nyota Uhura), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Hikaru Sulu), and Anton Yelchin (Pavel Chekov).

Behind the scenes, the Star Trek actors got close while filming. And Yelchin’s tragic death in 2016 at the age of 27 was nothing short of devastating to Urban and the rest of the cast.

Per the Los Angeles Times, Yelchin was killed in an accident where his car crushed the actor in the driveway of his Los Angeles home. After news of his death became public, Urban took to Twitter to share that he was in disbelief and “hurting bad.” 

In the aftermath of Yelchin’s death, Urban told Entertainment Weekly: “He was a huge loss to our family, and I think we’re all still reeling in shock. It’s just still very fresh. This only happened a matter of weeks ago. We’re a little floored. It’s tough. We miss him terribly. He should be here.” 

During an appearance on Today, Urban reflected on Yelchin’s death. “He was such a beautiful man, and it’s so difficult to think of him in the past,” he said.

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How loss has impacted the actor and his character

There are certainly some similarities between the loss Urban suffered in real life and the tragic death that affected his character on The Boys.

On the show, Butcher struggles to come to terms with the death of his little brother, Lenny. As seen in flashbacks, Lenny had a close relationship with Butcher. And he was one of the only people who could manage his brother’s violence. But at some point before the events of season 1, Lenny died by suicide, leading a devastated Butcher to believe that their father’s abuse was what drove Lenny to take his own life.

In season 3, viewers get more of an in-depth look at Butcher’s relationship with Lenny. As seen in episodes 6 and 7, Butcher projects Lenny’s little brother image onto Hughie and becomes fiercely protective of him.