Press Conference Review:
On Sunday [July 31], I attended the press junket for the upcoming film, Suicide Squad. And before I tell you my thoughts on the film, I’ll describe the experience of sitting in a room filled with stars such as Viola Davis, Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, just to name a few.
In a large space just across the street from Madison Square Garden, TV and print press from all over the world gathered to hear the cast and director of Suicide Squad speak before the movie’s release. The room had been designed to feel sort of like a scene from the film, with Harley Quinn’s jail cell prominently placed right behind where the actors would sit.
The organizer of the event said the “talent” was about to arrive and we should take our seats. This interview was being recorded, so there was more production/event organizers/entourage there than actual press. We squeezed into four rows of crappy chairs, and in came the stars of the film. Will Smith cracked his trademark smile as he walked in, and he shook the hand of most of the press people (he turned around just as he got to me, sigh).
The full cast sat on the couches in front of us, and then they were introduced:
Jared Leto – The Joker
Will Smith – Deadshot
Margot Robbie – Harley Quinn
Jai Courtney – Boomerang
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – Killer Croc
Joel Kinnaman – Rick Flag
Cara Delevigne – June Moone / Enchantress
Jay Hernandez – Diablo
Viola Davis – Amanda Walker
Adam Beach – Slipknot
Karen Fukuhara – Katana
David Ayers – Director
The press conference was only 30 minutes, so there was only time for four questions, but the actors gave very insightful answers. Right off the bat you could tell these stars had actually become friends while filming the movie; they were not just pretending for the cameras. Whether it was Will Smith goofily cheering for each of his fellow actors/actresses as they were introduced, or Jared Leto teasing Jai Courtney about how he saw him running naked across the set one day, the cast seemed to get along really well.
How do you balance bringing these characters to life while still remaining true to the characters everyone knows from the comics?
Jared Leto was the first to respond, and well, he did not hold back. He compared that process to a man giving birth from his…well you know, his gentleman’s region. The cast mostly laughed, while most of the press just gave him a sideways look.
David Ayers then said he really wanted the cast to be actual friends, so during the first few weeks he would have them all meet together and tell each other about their lives, swap stories and share secrets. He said that when you actually become invested in someone else, like knowing their secrets, the chemistry on camera becomes even better.
What was the most challenging part of making the film? Were there any injuries?
Will Smith jokingly said that when you’re 47, there is no such thing as a minor injury. He said that he tore his calf muscle in the early weeks of filming, and then Joel Kinnaman chimed in that he too tore his calf muscle, in support of Smith so that he wouldn’t feel alone.
Margot Robbie responded that she nearly broke a rib but instead just tore the muscle away from one of her ribs (like that’s any better?), and that they all got a lot of bumps, brushes, scrapes and cuts.
She then modified her answer and said that the physical side was tough, but definitely not the hardest part. For her, the mental and emotional side of playing her character was the hardest part to crack. She couldn’t understand why someone would fall in love with the Joker, and it was only after the director told her to do some research on psychology, since her character starts as a therapist of sorts, and to study the co-dependence that often develops between a doctor and their patient. After that, she said, she totally understood why Harley’s entire world centers around the Joker.
How do you bring humor into such a dark film?
Jared Leto answered that David Ayers played a huge part in that process because he was looking for the mistakes or the little things that seemed out of place, and he would have them expand on those moments, and that helped keep the film lighthearted.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje then said that David Ayers really wanted the characters to have souls, and that he hired actors and actresses that could do that. They each brought something to their characters so that their performances could mean a little more.
Will Smith then cut in, explaining that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje went to extreme lengths to study crocodiles, and behalf of the whole cast, he wanted to ask him if he really ate his assistant that showed up for one day, but was never seen since that day. The whole cast erupted in laughter, and the banter went on for a few minutes before they realized they had another question to answer.
How did you connect with your characters (specifically for the females)?
Margot Robbie reiterated what she said earlier, saying that she really looked for things that spoke to her in her research, such as a play she read about love and co-dependence.
Viola Davis said in order to prepare for her role, she read a book called Confessions of a Sociopath and said that really helped her. She also said that she had to take it back to 8-year-old Viola, because that was back when she could kick peoples’ asses. She said that she knew she had to find that toughness because she couldn’t retreat in a film that was filled with so many star talents.
Karen Fukuhara said that for her, as a Japanese-American, she drew on her own culture for her character, but it was really once she got into costume that she really connected with her character.
Cara Delevigne wrapped it up by saying that it was a combination of studying addiction and trying to find a demon within herself (she plays two characters in the film) that helped her connect to her character.
David Ayers also added that he wanted the women in the film to have equal voices to the men in the movie, and that was a conscious decision to have actresses who had powerful voices.
Were you thinking about a really diverse cast when writing the film (for Ayers)?
David Ayers responded that he grew up in South L.A. and he had a very diverse background. He also said that his wife, and his kinds, are Latino, and that diversity comes naturally to him. He said he thinks it’s very important to have diversity on the screen, and that kids need to be able to see faces just like their own when they go to the movies.
And just like that, the 30 minutes were up. The cast went left and right, ducking out doors, heading for their cars, and as I got up to leave I crossed paths with Jayden Smith (probably the highlight of the entire event).
So now for the review of the film. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this review, and I tried to keep it short so that you wouldn’t have to read a ton before you make up your mind on whether or not to see the film (you definitely should though!).
Suicide Squad Review:
Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that I really enjoyed the film. As a DC fan (Batman, Superman, those guys), I was really excited to see this film, and I was expecting it to be a response to Deadpool/Avengers 3 and it did not disappoint. So what did it have to live up to? Big action, lots of star names, and humor seamlessly integrated into a superhero blockbuster. Easy right?
For me, Deadpool was too crass, I really didn’t enjoy the humor in that movie, so I really wanted to like the humor in Suicide Squad. The jokes and action came fast and furious and I enjoyed it all. Harley Quinn is the perfect comedic relief, acting sort of like the voice in all of our heads as we watch a super hero film. She doesn’t let the film get too serious.
Overall, the star studded cast really shines in this movie. Viola Davis was her usual awesome self, portraying a government official that may or may not be better than the villains she’s holding. Jared Leto’s joker was crazy good (pun intended) and one of the coolest characters in the movie. He has several costumes, which are all ridiculously cool, and his joker laugh is very creepy.
Will Smith killed it in this film (another pun) as Deadshot, and it is a refreshing sight that the pseudo-leader of the squad is not a white man. Margot Robbie also delivers a great performance as Harley Quinn, with her psychotic banter and her baseball bat.
I also enjoyed the movie’s soundtrack. It had the right mix of modern sounds (Deadshot is introduced with Action Bronson playing in the background) and classic hits throughout the film.
Overall I enjoyed the pace of the film, with the team coming together (no surprise there) in a timely fashion, and the final battle is pretty epic. I’m definitely excited to see more from these characters in future spin-off films, and I am even more excited to see the Justice League movie.
My final verdict: I give it two thumbs up.