Oh boy. Buckle up nerds! The Suicide Squad is coming! I’m not talking about the movie, by the way. I’m talking about the most insane and hilarious group of people I’ve ever seen at a press conference.
That said, the movie, The Suicide Squad, is also coming this week, and it is also 100 levels of awesome! So in celebration of the film’s debut — in theaters August 5 (for director James Gunn’s birthday) and also on HBO Max starting August 6 — we wanted to share with you all of the fun we had hearing Gunn, Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Daniela Melchior, Sylvester Stallone, David Dastmalchian, Joel Kinnaman, Alice Braga, and more discuss the movie and rip on fellow cast member Michael Rooker. Here’s what they had to say!
**DISCLAIMER: With the film being a hard R-rated blockbuster, anticipate some colorful language during the recap here. These are direct quotes from the filmmakers and cast.**
Moderated by Tiffany Smith, the first question was about how difficult it was for Gunn to keep from revealing secrets about everything he wanted to do with the movie.
“I’m used to that,” started Gunn. “I always want to tell everybody everything, and I always have to hold on to all these secrets. I’ve been doing big movies for a while now, and holding on to these secrets — the pain of that — is a big part of what I do. But also, you’re assuming that I didn’t, Tiffany — that I didn’t tell a lot of people way too much information, because I can’t keep my mouth shut. But I’m used to it. It’s a muscle I’ve exercised quite a bit.”
On the madness of the movie, Gunn also had this to say: “I could not believe that I went in with an idea that stayed stable from the first time I pitched it to the guys at Warners, with Peter and Chuck to the very end… just the fact that I knew I was being entrusted with an enormous amount of freedom of such a big budget movie, I really did feel a huge responsibility to do it the best I could. But also because I was being given such freedom, I felt the responsibility to take risks. And making movies at this level — it seems like big movies are the ones people are going to see in theaters — and if they don’t continue to take risks and change and try new things, then people aren’t going to want to keep going back to the theaters. If it’s the same boring three-act structure every time, then people are going to get bored. So I felt grateful. I felt a sense of magic, I felt a sense of purpose… the whole time making the movie.”
There was a question for Elba and Cena, asking how it was to work on the dynamic between the characters of Bloodsport and Peacemaker. Before answering though Elba took the opportunity to give a shout out to one of his favorite actors.
“First off all, can I just say, hey Sly! I’m a big fan”
“Likewise,” said legendary actor, Stallone. “Very sophisticated acting group here. Except for Michael [Rooker]. Michael, I should have dropped you off that cliff years ago,” he said referencing the seminal 90s classic, Cliffhanger. “But other than that, great [group].”
After composing himself from the laughter, Elba answered the question saying, “It was a really great experience to explore if I’m honest… When you read the script you see the natural rivalry between John and I… the natural dynamics of the whole team. John and I really sort of gravitated to this natural sort of d**k swinging competition that was so fun… For us it was really great fun. James would really egg [myself] and John on to really make Peacemaker and Bloodsport really pop on screen. I loved every minute of it.”
Cena then chimed in with his thoughts. “I’ll say the same. I think if you look at the personalities we have here, James has cast a very wide net. And on top of that, [he’s] given everyone superhero personalities that are distinctly definable, except Bloodsport and Peacemaker. They’re of the same skillset. And I think that really starts the fuel for the one-upsmanship. They really want to battle for that Alpha position. Whereas the other superheroes don’t necessarily have to compete as much because they have definable characteristics. And I think that small journey between Bloodsport and Peacemaker, through the whole movie, really does make for some good comedic moments, and some wonderful one-upsmanship.”
In an attempt to avoid spoilers, Elba said something to the effect of, “We don’t want to talk about John and his tiny tighty whities scene.”
To which comedian Pete Davidson, playing Blackguard in the film, yelled out, “Yo bro! Your d**k is HUGE! I saw a screening of the movie and you have a HUGE piece.”
That’s where the entire thing started going off the rails!
In response, Cena jokingly implied that Gunn was “using a filter of some sort” to enhance his… um… body.
“No, no, no,” fired back Gunn. “John asked me to use a large p**is filter on the cameras at all times!”
“James I don’t even care if you say that, because it was literally just like my thumbnail,” replied Cena.
Then long time Gunn-staple Michael Rooker, who plays Savant, in the film, felt compelled to chime in, “You guys are all wrong! That wasn’t even a p**is. It was a log!”
Cena then felt compelled to reiterate to everyone that “with so many talented characters, actors, and professionals, we just spent a solid half minute or more talking about my d**k.”
I’d like to take this time to reiterate once again that these are direct quotes from the filmmakers and cast, and we at The Nerds of Color only wanted to include the most important parts of the press conference.
Moving on, the next question was for Melchior regarding how she developed her take on the character of Ratcatcher 2, and what it was like to work with the cast on a story that is a comic book legend.
“I just had to pretend that wasn’t the biggest fan of them… just another day in the office. But I was looking up at them every day. About Ratcatcher 2, I was really happy that I had this freedom, given by James, that I didn’t have to stick or stayed glued to the existing characters from the comics. So it was interesting to work on a supervillain that was just starting out. She doesn’t know how to kill or fight or anything at all, because she doesn’t want to and has a huge heart. So it was really interesting. And I thought that it would be a good starting point for Ratcatcher because it was really her first mission, and I hope not the last. But I feel really really lucky to be with so many good people.”
“And anytime you’re intimidated all you have to do is think about how much they talk about p*nis size and you’re good to go,” quipped moderator, Smith.
“Oh I’m never intimidated,” fired back Melchior.
A question came up for veteran squad castmember, Joel Kinnaman regarding how he was able to get his character Rick Flag to stand out with his performance alongside all the other high concept characters and performances.
“Well we had a good script. I was so happy to get to do this new version of Flag that James wrote, and got to spread some comedic wings,” Kinnaman began. “It was great to get to come in-it was the second time I did it — but it felt like I was doing it for the first time. Me and James had a couple of conversations early on. And we decided I was not going to be bound by what we did in the first film and let this be a new experience. And I had so much fun with it. It was a completely new experience, and felt like it was almost a completely new character.
Stallone was then thrown a quick question regarding why voicing King Shark in this film was different from other voice over performances he’s done in the past, and whether or not he asked any of his fellow Guardians of the Galaxy co-stars, such as Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, for advice.
“No on the last part, but I’m a big fan of seafood, so when I was offered this, I thought ‘oh wow! how could I pass this up?’ I mean I would have preferred to play a grouper, but I’ll take what I can get,” Stallone dad-joked.
“I paid him in bundles for all fish,” quipped Gunn.
“He paid me in worms and bait!” replied Stallone.
“At least you got paid,” fired back Rooker.
“Rooker had to pay me,” joked Gunn.
That was the closest the cast got to answering the original question.
A question came up for another Gunn staple, Nathan Fillion, who plays T.D.K in the movie. Fillion was asked how it was working with Gunn directing him during this film.
“That’s the only way I’ve ever worked with James. Him telling me what to do,” stated Fillion. “Peter [Safran] brought up the word ‘trust,’ and that’s — what I’m watching here going on — I’ve never seen someone like James handed a property like this and they just say ‘whatever you want, we trust you.’ And James turns around and says “Oh I’ve got all these solid performing work horses. I’ve got these solid performing thoroughbreds. And they all trust implicitly what James is going to do…. It’s so easy when someone has a singular vision that you can all get on board with. It becomes easy.”
Comedian Flula Borg, who plays Javelin, was asked what the funniest scene to film was and whether or not anyone had a fit of laughter while shooting.
“I’m a man who suffers from amnesia as soon as someone says cut… So I have no memories of anything that’s happened except for the cupcake breaks we took after each scene. So thank you again for the lemon poppyseeds.”
Fillion jumped in as well and said, “I’m going to say it was your rant on the helicopter!”
“I couldn’t stop laughing,” said Robbie.
“Margot, Jai, Rooker, Pete — they had a conversation about Flula basically imagining Harley’s s**t,” exclaimed Gunn. “For three hours of filming, they just couldn’t stop laughing and zero percent of it made it into the movie.”
“And we couldn’t keep it anyway because I kept bursting out laughing,” Robbie added. “So none of it could have been used… it went on for so long.”
“Much of it couldn’t be used because the move would be rated X,” added Borg.
On the idea of chaotic off-book moments and improvisation, Rooker, who was part of the aforementioned helicopter scene had this to say. “Going off script like that, is ridiculous, and you laugh your asses off. And it creates that camaraderie even more… And you can’t stop laughing. The more you try to stop it the worse it becomes. So you just let it go, let it be free. And after a minute it runs itself out, and then you’re close and you’ve got a better scene afterwards.”
“I just wanted to say playing a character that wasn’t as well defined as a personality, and having James allow us to do one take this way, and then another way… that helped me,” chimed in Elba, “And Ratcatcher 2, and Peacemaker perhaps, to sort of bring these characters out. Because they’re goofing around. You have established characters, like Rick Flag, and uh — Margot who do you play again,” he joked.
Robbie of course smiled back in on the ribbing.
Elba continuing, “You end up figuring out who your character is. And that was part of James’s technique. To allow us to figure it out. And I got to work obviously with John Cena, genius in terms of improve. And that brought the characters out more and more.”
“But also John’s balls,” Kinnaman hilariously chimed in. “You really brought us together.”
“I just want John to stand up and have the tighty whities on,” stated moderator Smith.
“Oh I do,” joked Cena.
Yeah, this topic is never going to end or not be funny.
The next question was for Alice Braga, who plays Solseria in the film – a leader of a group of resistance fighters trying to overthrow the corrupt government of Corto Maltese. Braga was asked how she was able to create such a strong leader who fights for the people, among a group of colorful characters that have insane superpowers.
“It was really interesting because it’s a different character from the comics,” started Braga. “But it was really good to talk to James, because James had a pretty strong idea and references. Even the looks of how he wanted her to look in reality. To really base her on characters and women who really do exist…James sent me a bunch of references of characters that do exist, and it was really wonderful. Like everybody said, he had a really specific idea and vision, and it really helped out to just open myself to it. And I have to say it was interesting, because when I jumped there, they were already filming a lot. And the energy is exactly this energy. I remember coming in and just saying ‘this is a beautiful dysfunctional family, because everybody is having so much fun but at the same time really doing the work…I saw a bunch of pictures on set and there’s not one where everybody isn’t laughing…everybody’s cracking up all the time. But yeah the characters is based on the vision James had, and it was really easy in that sense, because it was really wonderful.”
Returning member Jai Courtney, who plays Captain Boomerang was asked what the most fun part of filming was.
“Watching Rooker struggle to swim,” he said to the giggles of everyone, including Gunn.
“It wasn’t your kissy faces to Rooker?” quipped Gunn.
“We spent a lot of time submerged in water and it was hilarious for a lot of reasons,” Courtney continued. “Late nights, doing that much, you often have to stuff your costume with floatation devices, so seeing which parts of us hit the surface first was very stupid and very fun, and very childish. And I had a ball with that, that’s for sure.”
“There’s a great moment in the water with you guys,” started Gunn. “A moment we didn’t use, where you guys are laughing at something horrible happening. And the camera’s panning around. And Jai’s laughing his ass off, Pete’s laughing his ass off, Margot, and Nathan. And then we get to Mayling, and she’s drowning in her 200 pound costume!”
“Everyone was grabbing on to their floatation device, but I had nothing!” recalled Ng.
“I want to put the record straight,” called out Rooker. “I’m a good swimmer!”
“Mongal’s not,” quipped Ng.
When asked about how it was getting into character, Ng had this to say:
“She’s the most badass character I’ve ever played. So just putting on the helmet and the purple gear and stuff – even putting the makeup on – you just get in and go fierce. She’s strong and empowering. And she looks badass. She’s muscular and strong. She can take on anyone, even the guys!”
Finally, there was a group question about the most insane, memorable, favorite moments the entire cast had filming. A few folks chimed in.
“The beach,” stated Fillion. “The guns going off. The explosions. I have never been a part of anything that grand. Explosions are going off way over there and stuff is landing behind you. It was craziness. And then they’d say ‘Cut. Set it up.’ And we’d do it all again.”
“We had a helicopter,” added Rooker. “There’s a helicopter, coming in. Guns are shooting. There’s explosions. I’m picking sand out of everywhere. I mean it’s ridiculous. And by the way there was swimming involved.”
“A lot of people don’t know we made that beach,” stated Gunn. “It’s on the back lot in Pinewood. It’s one of the biggest sets ever made. And it is an entire beach front, with an ocean, that has working waves…and the beach then leads into a forrest. Which we also shot in as a forrest. So we had this humungous beach we created so we had full control over it. But when you were there, you felt like you were on the beach. So in between setups, you were hanging out, and–well not quite drinking margaritas – but feeling like you thought you could. It was great!”
Dastmalchian chimed in saying, “We were all wandering through the jungle, and I had to deliver one of the hardest moments of the entire film for me. Where I’m talking about why my character is who he is, and I’m standing there looking at almost everybody who’s on this Zoom right now, except they’re off camera. And you don’t know this but a lot of times when people are off camera, they just wander off or they don’t give you 1000%, and all of them were giving me everything that I could ask for with each of their characters. And I still was kind of lost. And I didn’t know how to get there. And James came down and gave me some direction. And to me, that summed up the whole movie for me. We’re on this incredible studio stage. This giant jungle set, with all these incredible actors. And yet it was still about this intimate relationships with these people, and this director with this incredible vision, having the willingness to come down and take a moment to just breathe with me and let me connect.”
“Did he say ‘Don’t blow this?’ because that’s how he does it with me,” joked Fillion.
“I did do that with Nathan and Rooker,” laughed Gunn. “Because we’ve been friends. And I’m giving notes to everybody. I go to someone and say something. Go to another person and say another thing. Then I go to Nathan and say, ‘Don’t f**k it up this time!’ “
And therein lies the truest, most sincere definition of “Squad goals”.
I can 1000% guarantee you the movie is just as crazy, hilarious, and fun as this press conference was! Check out my full review here for more Squad madness.
The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max on August 5th!