“Method acting” is a term once describing a fairly specific approach to performance (involving the use of memories and personal experience to inform and add realism to a role) that has come to be used as a more general term for actors “getting too into it.” Modern actors get close to their characters in a variety of ways, from trying their hand at certain jobs to intense research to deep meditation. Some have been known to hold onto an accent even when not filming (see Daniel-Day Lewis while he worked on Lincoln), or stay “in character” for the duration of a shoot. Or you can send a dead pig to your castmates. That works too.
In a new video interview, Viola Davis dishes on her role in the DC Extended Universe film Suicide Squad, and further confirmed a lot of early buzz that had been circling the project regarding Jared Leto’s alarming commitment to the role of The Joker. Reports have followed the production for months that the Oscar-winning actor had taken to acting out his character’s bizarre behavior in real life, up to and including playing macabre pranks on the other actors.
The Vanity Fair interview first touched on Davis’ current TV fame as the star of the hit series How To Get Away With Murder, wherein (like in Suicide Squad) she plays a morally-complicated antihero who gets to indulge in behavior not often “permitted” to women. As Davis put it:
“It’s really good to just be a badass, man. I’m telling you, I’m having a blast. Because I get to be messy! We girls, we don’t get to be messy, we’re always so worried about people liking us and thinking we’re cute. I think the big revelation is at fifty – being a dark-skinned woman of color – that people have an understanding that I can be messy, I can be interesting, I can be sexualized, I can be very much a woman. I think that in and of itself is really progressive.”
In Suicide Squad Davis plays Amanda Waller, one of the more prominent black female characters in mainstream American superhero comics. A secretive government agent with a dark past and complex motives that frame her as a villain as often as they do a hero, Waller is the brains behind the plan to conscript incarcerated supervillains to use their abilities for high-risk covert operations with the promise of a pardon – the premise that launches Suicide Squad‘s main storyline. The character has previously been portrayed by Pam Grier on Smallville, Cynthia Addai-Robinson on Arrow, Angela Bassett in Green Lantern and was voiced by CCH Pounder on Justice League Unlimited.
As for Leto’s Joker: Davis, like her costars before her, discussed how Leto individually terrorized co-star Margot Robbie, who plays Joker’s former (?) lover Harley Quinn in the film. David recounted the story of how Robbie “screamed” after receiving the gift of a live black rat by Leto, while also mentioning how his antics inspired her to step up her own game on Suicide Squad:
“He did some bad things, Jared Leto did. He gave some really horrific gifts. He had a henchman, who would come into the rehearsal room, and the henchman – he came into the room with a dead pig and plopped it on the table, and then he walked out. That was our introduction to Jared Leto. And I’m terrified, just as a person, thinking ‘is he crazy?’ But the second part was, ‘oh shit, I’ve got to have my stuff together.'”
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, which is followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.
Source: Vanity Fair