Amid cruel scrutiny, 'The Boys' star Erin Moriarty feels 'silenced' and 'dehumanized'

·4 min read
A blond woman sitting at a table under blue light
"The Boys" star Erin Moriarty attends San Diego's Comic-Con International in 2019. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

"The Boys" star Erin Moriarty opened up this week about the cyberbullying she has endured since the third season of the superhero satire premiered in July.

On Instagram, Moriarty shared excerpts from a blog post written by a self-described "Boys" enthusiast named Anna, who condemned the "overwhelming malice and misogyny" directed at the 28-year-old actor. In the popular Amazon Prime series, Moriarty plays Annie January, a.k.a. Starlight, a tough but compassionate "supe" who teams up with regular humans in an effort to dismantle the superhero industrial complex.

The "unsolicited commentary on [Moriarty's] appearance," the "obsession with her looks and the extent of objectification is unmatched," Anna writes in their essay.

"Why are pictures of her from season one ... now being crassly compared, when people naturally change after five years? Why is she being infantilised when she’s a grown woman, entitled to do with her body what she wishes? Why is she not simply allowed to exist?"

As one of the most famous superheroes on the planet, Starlight is routinely subjected to intense public scrutiny and sexism on the show — an all-too-meta character arc that appears to have bled into Moriarty's real life. Ironically, Starlight uses social media to reclaim her power and humanity in Season 3.

"The harassment feels all the worse given the context of her role as Starlight on the show, a woman silenced and sexualised, treated like a celebrity canvas for others to project onto rather than a human being with her own thoughts and feelings," Anna writes.

"But Annie is fictional, and Erin is not. The torment doesn’t end for her when the credits start, because there is no switch off. No end or escape."

In the caption of her post, Moriarty thanked Anna for her words while offering an olive branch to her haters.

"I do feel silenced. I do feel dehumanized. I do feel paralyzed," Moriarty wrote.

"I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into this role (over & over & over again), I’ve grown UP in this character’s shoes (*emphasis on grown up - we change & evolve mentally AND physically). ... this does break my heart — I’ve opened up a vein for this role and this kind of trolling is exactly what this role (Annie) would speak out against."

Moriarty is one of multiple young actors, including Timothée Chalamet and Tom Holland, to speak out against online negativity in recent weeks. Last month, Holland — also known for playing a superhero, Spider-Man — announced he was taking a break from social media to protect his mental health.

"Everyone’s going through their own battle(s); let’s not add to that," Moriarty continued. "I will never intentionally (and ESPECIALLY) publicly add to yours. This has only strengthened my empathy muscle and to anyone who comes at me: I see you, I don’t hate you, I only empathize and forgive."

On Wednesday, "The Boys" creator Eric Kripke took aim at all the "trolls" harassing Moriarty on the internet: "This is literally the opposite of the show's f— message," he tweeted. "You're causing pain to real people with real feelings. Be kind. If you can't be kind, then eat a bag of d—, f— off to the sun & don't watch #TheBoys, we don't want you."

Responding directly to Anna's blog post via Twitter, Antony Starr — whose villainous character, Homelander, frequently torments Starlight on "The Boys" — called the hatred aimed at Moriarty "appalling, and sadly all too common."

"Your work on the show is and always has been stellar and you are beautiful inside and out," Starr added in the comments section of Moriarty's Instagram post. "Keep shining."

Other "Boys" cast members who showed up for Moriarty on Instagram include Jessie T. Usher (A-Train), Karen Fukuhara (Kimiko), Chace Crawford (the Deep) and Jack Quaid, who plays Starlight's love interest, Hughie Campbell.

"There’s no room for hate on our show," Fukuhara wrote. "You don’t deserve this and we’re here to support you."

"Love you Erin," Quaid wrote. "We’re all here for you. You’re such an incredible, talented force of nature and I consider myself incredibly lucky to know you. Keep shining bright. Leave the trolls to us. We got your back."

Another member of the "Boys" family, Christopher Lennertz — who composes music for the series — also voiced his support for Moriarty on Twitter.

"Erin Moriarty is a true badass and a phenomenal actor (and singer, I might add)! Not to mention a very kind human being," he tweeted. "We’ve got your back, always!"

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.