‘Suicide Squad’ Producer Charles Roven Talks Jared Leto’s Method and More!

By November 12, 2015

After years of getting beaten to the punch by Marvel Studios and enduring tons of snark from “fans” everywhere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. will (FINALLY!) jump back into the world of superhero films next year with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. While the first film is almost guaranteed to bring in huge numbers at the box office given the fact that, you know, it’s Batman and Superman, Suicide Squad is a bit of an unknown commodity. Sure, it boasts tons of star power with Jared Leto, Will Smith, and Margot Robbie onboard, but it’s still up in the air as to how audiences are going to react to the film. It’s basically setting up a lot like Guardians of the Galaxy, only A LOT darker. Whether or not it matches that film’s critical and financial response remains to be seen, but DC fans everywhere are crossing their fingers.

Whereas we’ve got a pretty good idea of what the plot for Dawn of Justice will be, Suicide Squad is still very much a mystery (which is a good thing). All we really know is that the Squad is put together by the government to go on very risky missions and The Joker is involved somehow. That’s really all we’ve got so far. And while producer Charles Roven’s recent interview with Collider does very little to change that, it still peels back the curtain a little on what is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing films, superhero or otherwise, of the last few years.

One of, if not the, most scrutinized aspects of this film will be the performance of Jared Leto as The Joker. Obviously the shadow of Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning work in The Dark Knight still looms large over the role of the Clown Prince of Crime, but the casting of Leto seems to have inspired tentative optimism amongst fans. Roven spoke with Collider about Leto’s approach to the role, noting how the long-time method actor kept things very interesting on-set:

“Look, you know, it was different, it was fun. The group first wasn’t sure because the AD’s had to call him ‘Mr. J’ to get him to come to the set [laughs]. And he did in many ways isolate himself from the rest of the group, but that’s really what his character was, the purpose of his character in many ways, other than when he was with Harley or trying to get Harley. It was very entertaining, it was fuel for a lot of good sport and a lot of laughs, and his isolation bonded the squad, and we wanted the squad bonded.”

He also noted that Leto would send his fellow cast members gifts as The Joker, which I can only imagine were wonderfully twisted. Seriously, I want to know what sort of present The Joker sent Deadshot (Will Smith). I bet it was amazing.

Roven also discussed writer-director David Ayer’s process of bringing the film to life:

“He had a close relationship with [Warner Bros. executive] Greg Silverman and Greg said, ‘He’s got an idea on Suicide Squad, he wants to come in and pitch it.’ Having a guy like that who’s been able to—all of his films have had a certain level of groundedness to them, really feeling very richly real. And so having that sensibility, which is along the lines of what we were talking about earlier how we like to have things grounded in science or whatever, I was very anxious to hear what his take was gonna be on Suicide Squad and I was very happily surprised, but it was right exactly in the pocket that we were looking for. Honestly that movie was essentially greenlit in the pitch meeting.”

Having Ayer onboard from the very start is very refreshing. As much as Marvel’s gotten right, one of their biggest flaws has always been interference with the creative minds behind their films *cough*Edgar Wright*cough*. This sounds like Ayer came in, made his pitch, and Warner Bros. just went “Sure, do that. Do all of that.” And apparently he went on a few other successful sales pitches as well:

“Surprisingly, one of the things that is a natural benefit of having a writer-director is that when you meet with him, if he’s trying to meet with an actor and explain to them what the role’s gonna be, there’s a lot of confidence that the actor has that the man who’s telling him what’s it’s gonna be is gonna deliver because he’s both the writer and the director. So David was very fresh off the heels of a movie that he could show called Fury, which was a fabulous picture, and he was able to talk about these really—as he says ‘it can be fun to be bad’ and ‘just because they’re bad doesn’t mean they’re evil’, and so he was able to convince all of the actors that we went out to that he was gonna be able to make these characters so compelling that they would wanna be played more than once by these actors.”

So basically if this movie’s any good, David Ayer will be winning next year’s Nobel Prize.

While a movie called Suicide Squad might seem like a natural candidate for an R-rating, Roven says that the plan has always been to go PG-13:

“The intention of the film is definitely to be PG-13… We really want to make these films tonally consistent so that, as I said because this is a shared universe, at least our current thinking—and again, we’re not dealing in absolutes because while this is business it’s also a creative endeavor, so you want to leave yourself open to changing your mind, doing something different, being inspired, that’s the whole process of filmmaking is you have to allow for inspiration as well as having a road map for what you’re gonna do. So our plan right now is to make all these films PG-13. In some cases, you know, right there on the edge of PG-13, but still PG-13.”

PG-13 films can still push the envelope plenty, so this hopefully won’t make things too tame. It certainly shouldn’t hamper Leto’s performance as The Joker, seeing as how The Dark Knight was also PG-13 and Ledger was plenty menacing.

I mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy earlier, and like that film Suicide Squad faces the task of introducing multiple characters and making the audience care about them. Roven seems pretty confident that the film will accomplish its mission:

“There’s a lot of characters in Suicide Squad, and I think you’ll be engaged with them. They all have fabulously different arcs, they’re all very individualistic, and I think that also they’re very, very human in their own dysfunctional ways. And I think that the personal individuals stories and how they relate to each other will be surprising.”

I mean, if Ayer and Co. really do pull this one off, Suicide Squad could be a real game-changer for the superhero film genre. Or, it could just be really, really good. I think fans will be plenty satisfied with that.

Suicide Squad stars Jared Leto, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. It’s set for release on August 5, 2016.

Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.

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Joe Ruggirello
Joe is a writer, retired comedian, and giant nerd. He's particularly fond of comic books, pro wrestling, and Godzilla. Oh, and that Star Wars thing. You can yell at him on Twitter @JoeRu23.