Calling it the most-anticipated movie of the summer would be an understatement. By now, everyone knows this Friday is the long-awaited global premiere of Suicide Squad from writer/director David Ayer, starring an amazing ensemble cast including Oscar nominee Will Smith, Oscar winner Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman and Oscar nominee Viola Davis. Recently Ayer and the entire cast gathered before the press to discuss a variety of topics, including Ayer's "therapy" sessions to get inside the heads of his cast, and share some laughs. Here are just a few highlights from the event.
Meet the Women of Suicide Squad
Margot Robbie: We had an amazing resource with the comic books, but there are still little gaps in the back story and things you need to fill in yourself. I watched a couple of TED Talks about schizophrenia and that really helped because the women who were doing these talks were so intelligent and Harley needs to be wickedly intelligent, but also kind of psychotic. That was so helpful and I also read a play called Fool for Love about this really dysfunctional relationship and that helped me to unlock the whole feeling towards the Joker. Some things hit home when you’re doing all your research and some things don’t, but those things really helped.
Viola Davis: Joel [Kinnaman] gave me a book called Confessions of a Sociopath [by M.E. Thomas] and I read that book extensively. It’s the confessions of a woman who’s a sociopath and one of the things I found out is that a lot CEOs of companies are sociopaths. People who have no guilt. I also tapped into Viola at eight, because at eight, I was always angry, people were always teasing me and I was bullied. That was the first story I told David when I met him. He said, “Viola, tell me about your childhood.” I said, “Well, David, I remember when I was eight years old, I kicked a lot of ass.” So there was a part of me that had to tap into that because, with me, I’m always apologizing, I’m shy, I’m always retreating, I never tap into my power and Amanda Waller is not that. She is unapologetically brutal, so I had to tap into that because otherwise I would have retreated and with this group I couldn’t retreat.
Karen Fukuhara: Coming from a Japanese-American family we had a lot of Japanese cultures and values growing up in the household. [Japanese] was my first language and we grew up on Japanese traditions, food and TV, so when I first read the Katana comics I immediately fell in love and felt there was a part of her inside of me, even though our personalities were so completely different. For me, the switch really happened when I put on the mask and the wardrobe and that really helped me tap into the character.
Cara Delevingne: Some of the first things David said to me were about looking into things like addiction and never feeling like anything is enough and constantly needing something. It was trying to find the opposites of her and also trying to find a demon inside myself, which I was definitely able to find [laughs]. And trying to make that as real as possible and understand why someone would do something that evil or want to really hurt that many people, because that’s what David wanted for this movie.
The Infamous Therapy Sessions
David Ayer: I needed these guys to feel like best friends on camera and when you’re with your best friends you share secrets and talk about your inner-life. So I wanted them to have that energy and the fastest way to get there was to have them beat the hell out of each other and share their secrets.
Will Smith: David has a very interesting process of getting actors into their characters: manipulation, domination, torture [laughs]. It was much more like therapy than character creation. We all got in a room and he had us talk about our lives and we got really close [talking] about our triumphs and tribulations and trials.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agabje: When David and I first had a discussion and he presented Killer Croc with the prostehetics which were very extensive, my first question was “Is anybody actually gonna know I’m in there?” And he said, “Absolutely,” because he really wanted an actor who could bring the soul of the creatures to life. I think with all of us, these are villains with souls and that’s indicative of his vision. There’s a beautiful moment in the movie where Killer Croc—and it’s very easy to have a punchline that he’s ugly—but he says, “I’m beautiful.” That sends a statement about acceptance when a crocodilian, reptilian black man can say, “I’m beautiful.” And I think, in this kind of genre, that’s very fearless and quite bold to make humane statements.
Jared Leto: David was really great, because, from the beginning, it was clear that he wanted to do something different. He wanted to do something special and something that we’d all be really proud of and I got the sense that he was willing to go to all lengths in order to get that. That was a little scary, but also really exciting. He’s not only the director, he’s also the writer of the film, so I was surprised by how much freedom he gave everybody to just go completely crazy. What I thought was really genius about David is that he was always looking for the accident. He was always looking for the mistake and embracing that. And, for Margot and I, there was a lot of humor. A lot of things that I thought were very funny, in a sick and twisted way. For me, it was actually the role of a lifetime. I had so much fun playing the Joker. It was a buzz.
The Physical Toll vs. The Emotional
Will Smith: When you’re 47, no injury is a mild injury anymore [laughs]. I tore my calf a couple of weeks in and what’s terrible is that you do it doing nothing. I wasn’t doing anything. We were sparring and I stepped back, threw a shot, and my calf popped. People could hear it, everybody was like, “Ooh. Whatever that sound was, that’s not a good sound.”
Margot Robbie: I had less layers to hide padding for doing stunts, so that made it a little painful. I thought I broke my rib at one point but I actually tore the muscle off the rib, but it was fine; it was towards the end. But the hardest part for me wasn’t the physical side, actually. The emotional stuff was definitely more difficult: exposing my most vulnerable sides in front of a room full of strangers. That was incredibly hard. Trying to figure out the dynamic between Harley and Joker and why she’s so devoted to this guy who tries to kill her occasionally [laughs]. It took a little while to get my head around that.
The rest of us will get our chance to wrap our collective head around what promises to be this summer's major blockbuster event in just two days! You've met the actors, now it's time to meet the characters with these new video clips (hope you like Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz"):
Meet Harley Quinn
Meet Amanda Waller
Meet Killer Croc
Suicide Squad is in theaters this Friday. Advance tickets are on sale now.