A studio and director may put every ounce of effort they can into assembling a star-studded property, calling on fan nostalgia, iconic fictional heroes and villains, and some of the best actors and actresses in Hollywood to ensure success. But no matter how it looks on paper, there’s one thing you can’t manufacture: chemistry. In fact, putting together too many A-list stars can often lead to some unfriendly competition, bruised egos, or in one way or another, too many cooks in the kitchen.
With Suicide Squad, the shocking announcement that this underdog DC Comics film would call on the likes of Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and more seemed almost too good to be true. Would actors used to owning the spotlight be happy to share? Or would the studios go too far, gathering too much of a good thing, leading the film to collapse under its own weight? According to the director and cast, that’s a problem that never arose – in fact, they may be too good an influence on eachother.
Since the first reports of the camaraderie between the Suicide Squad cast started to surface, from group photos of the team partying on social media, to them tattooing “skwad” on eachother to commemorate the shoot, it was clear that however the movie turned out, the production was something special for the cast (and one they were all too ready to continue in sequels).
We got the chance to visit the set in the midst of that chemistry, and even then director David Ayer revealed that the biggest surprise in shifting from crime and war films to comic book was how well the cast had formed a family of their own:
“It’s less about any one thing and more about how shocking the chemistry between the actors has become. They’re thick as thieves, it’s like… they’re scary together [laughs]. They’re like this little gang now. They’re truly like a posse, it’s a wonder to behold and that’s not normal in this business, sadly, because I think it’s a very isolated business. You have actors and they go from show to show, and travel, live out of suitcases. It’s a very isolated lifestyle. And I think people understand that so to see people who willingly hang out on set when they’re not working, and they’re always together, even when they don’t have to be is kind of… it’s rare. It’s very rare.”
Examples and anecdotes were offered throughout the set, describing how a cast member would observe Jared Leto’s Joker during one take before briefly disappearing, then returning with a handful more. The amount of swagger Ayer projected firsthand on stage at San Diego Comic-Con is an indication of what helped the group to gel, since it was obvious the writer/director felt that his cast and crew was creating something special itself, almost embracing a counterculture to the mainstream superhero blockbuster.
Yet the “scary” chemistry obviously took hold fast, spinning out of the director’s hands as literal giants of Hollywood teamed up with newcomers, rising stars, and seasoned character actors. And Ayer isn’t alone in his belief that such camaraderie is a rare thing in today’s film industry, since both Margot Robbie and Jai Courtney reiterated the point when we spoke with them on set:
Jai Courtney: It’s been one of those bizarrely pleasant experiences. We’ve all had, I think, varying types of experiences on films and spoke about it early on, where you get on a film sometimes and you know it’s going to be good and you’re working with a good group of people. But something happened early on. It was probably the rehearsal time that we were afforded, I think that meant that there was this period of concentration where we got to trust each other, and couple that with this lucky accident of the group that was assembled. We have just had a whole lot of fun.
Margot Robbie: I think it also helps that none of us are from Toronto [where the film was shot]. So when we finish a day of work you turn to each other and say, “What are you doing now? What are we doing this weekend?” And a lot of people are married with kids and stuff and if we were shooting in their hometown, they would go home to their significant other, their kids, their life, and their friends that they have known forever. But since we are all away from home you stick together even more.
Jai Courtney: It’s like this obnoxious little family.
Margot Robbie: It’s a bizarre family.
So there you have it: art imitates life, and vice versa. The finished film will reveal just how much on-set chemistry and friendship between a varied cast translates to supervillains forced to form a family of their own. But in the meantime, the odds look good. And the fact that each cast member we spoke to is more than eager to repeat the experience has WB hoping Suicide Squad is every bit the crowdpleaser some are predicting.
Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman is slated for release on June 2, 2017; followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash is currently without release date.
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