One thing that Suicide Squad can brag about is that they are the first superhero movie to have morally repugnant characters in as the protagonist. With some superheroes like Batman or Marvel’s Iron Man pushing the boundaries on morally-upright behavior, the girls of Suicide Squad are just straight up bad guys. And they do not come any badder than the film’s Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller, Katana, and Enchantress, played by Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Karen Fukuhara, and Cara Delevingne respectively. Each actress delved deep into their roles to become the character they set out to play.
Actress Robbie talks about how she did research into, not just Harley Quinn’s comic book origins, but also mental illness and dysfunctional relationships.
“[W]e had an amazing resource with the comic books, but there are still little gaps in the backstory and things you need to fill in yourself. I watched a couple of TED Talks on schizophrenia, amongst a bunch of other things. But that really helped because the women that were doing these talks were so intelligent. They were professors, and Harley needs to be wickedly intelligent but also kind of psychotic. It was so helpful. I also got recommended to read a play called ‘Fool For Love’ about this really dysfunctional relationship and that, for whatever reason, helped me unlock the whole feeling towards the Joker.”
For Davis, she had to bring up old feelings of anger from her childhood in order to get into the right mindset to play the tough, no-nonsense Amanda Waller. In addition to that, she also had helped from co-star Joel Kinnaman, who plays Rick Flag in the movie.
Joel gave me a book called ‘Confessions of a Sociopath,’ and I read that book extensively. It’s confessions of a woman who’s a sociopath, and one of the things I found out is a lot of CEOs of companies are sociopaths. People who have no guilt, if they cry they’re only crying because they feel like they’re losing control. [I also] tapped into Viola at eight, because I can’t tap into this with Viola at 51. At eight I could beat somebody’s ass. I was just always angry. People were always teasing me, I was bullied. I remember that was the first story I told [director] David Ayer when I met him. He was like, ‘Viola, just tell me about your childhood.’ I said, ‘Well David, I remember when I was eight years old I kicked a lot of ass.’ So there was a part of me that had to tap into that because with women, with me, I’m always apologizing. I’m shy, I’m always retreating. I never tap into my power and Amanda Waller is not that. She is unapologetically brutal. I had to tap into that because otherwise I would have retreated, and with this group, I couldn’t retreat.”
Fukuhara discusses researching for the role of Katana was about connecting her personal experience to the character. The more she read about Katana in the comics, the more she could relate to her own Japanese American upbringing.
“Coming from a Japanese-American family, we had a lot of those Japanese cultures and values growing up in the household. It was my first language and we grew up on Japanese traditions and food and TV and all of that. I think when I first read the Katana comics, I immediately fell in love and I immediately felt like there was a part of her inside of me even though our personalities were so completely different. For me, the switch really happened when I put on the mask and the wardrobe. That really helped me tap into the character.”
Delevingne said that director David Ayer gave her specific instructions on what aspect of Enchantress’ character will be highlighted in the film, likening her insanely high power levels to an addiction.
“Some of the first things David said to me were looking into things like addiction, like never getting enough or feeling like anything is enough and constantly needing something. Then also, it was trying to find the kind of opposites of her and trying to find the demon inside myself, which I definitely was able to find… And trying to make that as real as possible and understand why someone would do something that evil or want to really hurt that many people and just try to make it real, I guess. That’s what David wanted for this movie.”
Suicide Squad hits theaters August 5, 2016.