The actor deconstructs his character’s T-shirts from ‘The Boys’ and the ensign from the U.S.S. Cerritos’ ambitions

Apart from the many talking points in The Boys, including the concept, writing and extreme violence, Hughie’s various band T-shirts got a lot of traction. Jack Quaid, who plays the civilian among the Supes, was more than happy to discuss the said tees. “Oh man! I think my favourites are usually the Billy Joel tee-shirts,” the actor said over a video call from Ontario. “I work a lot with music whenever I am developing a character. I create a playlist and having the music that he probably listens to on his shirt was helpful for me. Every single time that we brought in a new band there has been a conversation between Eric Kripke (creator), the costume department and me. It has been cool to figure out which of Hughie’s tee-shirts are hand- me-downs from his dad, what he bought for himself, which was probably a gift from Robin.” The T-shirts have been a cool way of not only getting his backstory across, but also his inner life — what he listens to and what that means to him. It has been helpful for me as an actor and kind of fun. I bought a lot of band t shirts after season two.”

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In the animated show, Star Trek Lower Decks Jack plays Brad Boimler, a support crew member aboard the U.S.S. Cerritos. Brad is very driven, Jack says. “He wants to get promoted. He has to suck up to those above him. He has a lot of aspirations, he is a bit of a climber, but his heart is in the right place. He geeks out about everything Starfleet. He knows everything about Starfleet bureaucracy. He is book smart, but doesn’t know how to improvise, to think on his feet. Intellectually he is ready for the captain’s chair, but his lack of experience is holding him back.”

We know what Hughie listens to, so what about Brad? “Oh, man! Brad plays the violin, so there would be a lot of violin music. Throughout the show you do hear him humming theme songs from various Star Trek shows. He would listen to that, he would rock out to some Beastie Boys probably and he has his moments where he just rocks out to himself and thinks he is really cool.”

Brad’s chances of becoming captain are doubtful according to Jack. “Give him time, maybe he could get there. He would also be an incredible number one, he would be a great first officer someday.”

The son of actors Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, Jack says he can relate to aspects of Brad. “Not all of them. I am not that much of a suck-up—I hope not. I can relate to being driven and ambitious. I can relate to wanting to make your mark on the world when you are just starting out. A lot of it is the amazing writing and stuff that we were able to figure out in the booth, little pieces of improv that I am surprised actually made it into the final product.”

While Brad follows rules rigidly, Jack says it depends on the rules. “If it is COVID protocols, stick to the letter. I definitely think those are good. Then there are some rules that are made to be broken. (laughs).”

Star Trek: Lower Decks is Jack’s second foray into animation on the small screen after playing Richie Rich in Harvey Girls Forever! The 28-year-old actor says, “When you are on camera, you get to convey so much with your face, eyes and body language. Your voice is one of many tools at your disposal. With voice acting you have to communicate everything through your voice. It is a challenge, one that I love. The pros are you don’t have to be in hair and makeup, you can look like you just got out of bed and it doesn’t matter which is so nice. I love having a line on a page, saying it, having a director tell me to say it a different way, workshop it a few different ways, try a few other improvised lines and move on. It is acting solidified in a nutshell.”

Animation has proved to be great format for the pandemic year. “It was a rough year for everyone. I’m not going to complain about my particular year. What was cool was that we were lucky enough to be able to record a lot of dialogue not only for season one but also season two in quarantine. We did it in our closets at home. A lot of actors figured out how to be sound technicians. It was an interesting process, but we got there. I listened to the episodes and I know what lines I said in my closet and it sounded pretty good! A lot of live action productions had to obviously halt production but animation didn’t skip a beat, they didn’t take a day off of work. I felt very lucky to be able to do something during that time when everything seemed so uncertain and crazy.”

Recording his lines involved Jack buying equipment and putting up soundproof foam a storage closet. “It got sweaty in there really fast. I draped some blankets over some doors. It is unimaginable how hot it was in there. I had to figure out how to get my computer fan to stop blaring so loudly so you didn’t hear it on the track.”

There are two kinds of people in the world—trekkies and Star Wars fans. Jack says before working on Lower Decks, he was more of a Star Wars fan than a Trekkie. “Now I’d say they are equal.” A big fan of the JJ Abrams reboot movies, Jack says they were great because they were able to bring in a new audience as well as satisfy old fans.

Excited to be in a Star Trek show, Jack realised he needed to do research as Brad was a huge fan of Starfleet. “Mike McMahan (creator) and Tawny Newsome (co-star) recommended a tonne of great TNG episodes for me to check out and it took me from casual Trek fan to full blown trekkie.”

Jack’s favourite Star Trek character is Data. “He brings up so many questions about the nature of humanity. He is portrayed so well and is so fascinating—a robot that wants to be human. Kirk and Spock from The Original Series are iconic and so well played. The actors took this idea that was such an insane concept at the time and made it a pop culture phenomenon. It is a feat in and of itself. I love all the Star Trek characters but those three are definitely up there for me.”

Despite the omnipresence, ease of viewing and accessibility of streaming platforms, Jack prefers theatres. “That is my first love when it comes to acting and viewing things. That is the thing I miss the most now that COVID has changed our world. I miss going to a movie theatre and watching a movie. I hope it comes back soon; that and live music.”

While Jack made his acting début on the big screen with The Hunger Games franchise, he has acted in quite a few shows including the period drama, Vinyl, created by Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Rich Cohen and Terence Winter. When asked to choose between the two formats, Jack groans, “Oh that is such a hard question! Though now you have shows that are as highly anticipated as certain movies, I am going to go with my first love of movies only because that is what got me into doing what I do. I do work in TV mostly and it is great as you can have so much more time with a character. I also think that there is something special about a beginning, middle and end story that is told in two hours-ish.”

Star Trek Lower Decks is presently streaming on Amazon Prime Video

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