'Suicide Squad' Press Conference: Everything We Learned About DC's Twisted Team-Up

For months now we've heard about how tight the cast of Suicide Squad is, and that camaraderie was definitely on display at the film's New York press conference this weekend. The stars, director David Ayer, and producers Richard Suckle and Charles Roven talked about the pressures of making the film, the lengths they went to in order to research their roles. They also talked about the unusual and welcome diversity of the Suicide Squad line-up, and some of the crazier on-set antics (one of which involves a naked Jai Courtney).

Read everything we learned from the Suicide Squad press conference below. 

SUICIDE SQUAD

Jared Leto would love to keep playing the Joker

Jared Leto famously kept himself separate from the rest of the Suicide Squad cast throughout the production, the better to develop his performance as the Joker. And it sounds like a painful process indeed. "It's kind of like giving birth out of your prick hole," said Leto when asked about creating his character. That said, he continued, "For me, it was the role of a lifetime. I had so much fun playing Joker. I could easily just play the Joker a couple more times and retire."

David Ayer directing SUICIDE SQUAD

How David Ayer manipulated his cast into bonding

As for the rest of their cast, their intense closeness is no accident. Will Smith good-naturedly described the regimen of "manipulation, domination, torture" that Ayer put his stars through to help inform their performances. "We all got in the room, and he had, essentially it was much more like therapy than it was a character creation. So you know, we sat and talked about our lives, and we got really close with our triumphs and tribulations and trials. And then at the most opportune moment, Joel [Kinnaman] described it best, he would completely betray us," he laughed.

"I needed these guys to feel like they're best friends on camera, and when you're with your best friend, you share secrets, you talk about your inner life, there's a way you talk to a really close friend, and I wanted them to have that energy," Ayer explained. "And the fastest way to get there was to have them beat the hell out of each other, share their secrets." Cracked Leto, "It's also how you start cults."

SUICIDE SQUAD - Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje might have eaten his assistant

... Okay, so he probably didn't. But Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was apparently so intensely creepy as Killer Croc that Smith felt compelled to ask about it. "I think as a cast, we have a question, and I think Adewale should answer this question honestly once and for all," Smith joked. "Did you eat any of your assistants?" As everyone laughed, Smith continued, "We all think you ate him."

On a more serious note, though, Akinnuoye-Agbaje talked about breathing inner life into his bizarre-looking character.

He really wanted an actor that would bring the soul of the creature to life. I think with all of us, these are villains with souls, and I think that's indicative of his vision. There's a beautiful moment in the movie where Killer Croc, where it's very easy to have a punchline that he's ugly, but he says, 'I'm beautiful.' And it sends a statement when a crocodilian reptilian black man could say 'I'm beautiful,' about acceptance. I think in this kind of drama that's very fierce and quite bold to make humane statements.

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On the next page, Margot Robbie discusses the challenges of playing Harley Quinn, Viola Davis explains how Amanda Waller became such a badass, and David Ayer talks diversity, and Jai Courtney finally tells the time he got naked and chased his director around the set.

SUICIDE SQUAD - Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn

How Margot Robbie got into Harley Quinn's head

Margot Robbie did many of her own stunts for Suicide Squad, and has the injuries to prove it. "I had less layers to hide padding and stuff doing stunts, so that made it a little painful," she said. But according to her, that wasn't the hardest part of playing Harley Quinn.

"The emotional stuff was definitely the more difficult part. Exposing my most vulnerable side in a room full of strangers, at that point, that was incredibly hard," she recalled. "Trying to figure out the dynamic between Harley and Joker and why she was so devoted to this guy that tries to kill her occasionally."

To help get herself into the mindset of one of DC's most iconic characters, Robbie looked to the comic books, of course — but also to TED talks on schizophrenia (because "Harley needs to be wickedly intelligent, but also psychotic") and a play called Fool for Love. "That, for whatever reason, helped me unlock the whole feeling towards Joker," she said.

SUICIDE SQUAD - Jai Courtney as Boomerang

About that time a naked Jai Courtney chased David Ayer around set

Courtney seemed generally relaxed and low-key in person at the press conference, but according to his co-stars, he was quite the animal on set. "Everybody asks, like, who was the guy that would kind of keep us together, and from my point of view, I saw Jai as our go-to guy to liven it up," said Adam Beach. Sometimes, apparently, "liven up" meant stripping down. "I've done love scenes in quite a few movies, but I've never had a co-star that I've seen naked more than Jai," said Smith. "He just had a really, really hard time keeping his clothes on."

Once, the cast told us, a naked Courtney even chased Ayer around set. Courtney explained his side of the story:

David used to like to come and visit base camp, where our trailers all would be, and he would just open the trailer door. ... One time, I was getting out of the shower, and he came in and he opened the door and was like 'Sup, dude,' and I was like, 'Oh, what's up?' You know, it was an opportune moment, so I dropped the towel and went after him. ... I never got him!

According to Leto, there's even photographic evidence of the incident. "I saw something interesting when I was on the set. I saw a photograph of the naked man running after David Ayer who had a look of abject terror," he said, smirking. And while Warner Bros. probably isn't eager to release that photo to the public, Leto would very much like them to. "Can we start like an online poll or a charity drive to release this photo?" he asked with a grin.

SUICIDE SQUAD - Viola Davis as Amanda Waller

Why Viola Davis tapped into her inner eight-year-old

If you've seen the Suicide Squad trailers, you're already aware that mastermind Amanda Waller might be the scariest and most ruthless of them all. Viola Davis revealed that her research included a book called Confessions of a Sociopath, which had been recommended to her by Kinnaman... as well as getting in touch with her inner eight-year-old.

At 8, I could beat somebody's ass. I could beat somebody's ass, I was just always angry, because people were always teasing me, I was bullied. And I remember that was the first story I told David when I met him, he was like, 'Oh yeah, Viola, tell me about your childhood.' I said, 'Well David, I remember when I was eight years old, I kicked a lot of ass.'

And 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.

And as Kinnaman can attest, it did the trick. "She did not retreat at all," he said. "It was pretty much every day that me and Viola had together on set, David would call on her to come and stand behind the camera, and then she'd just stand behind the camera and yell mean things at me. She'd be like 'Hey Joel, Joel, Flag! You little bitch. Punk-ass bitch.' And I'm like, 'Oh, okay. Good morning.' That was my experience."

Suicide Squad Reactions

Why David Ayer wanted a diverse cast

Among other things, Suicide Squad is unusual for its diversity. It's not every day we see a superhero movie cast that involves Asian, Latino, Native American, and black characters, not to mention multiple female leads. But Ayer said that for him, it was a natural choice.

I grew up in South L.A., I grew up in a really diverse neighborhood. I was the only white boy, that's how diverse it was. It's the world I know, it's the world I live in, but it's also the world we all live in. I feel like onscreen, you know, kids need to see people that look like them. My wife is Latina, my kids are Latino, so it's important for them to see faces like theirs onscreen. And this is also, it's a global business these days.

It comes naturally to me, but I think in diversity is strength. We need to be a lot more inclusive in film, we really need to work on that, and in our world in general.

Ayer also made a point of including interesting and powerful female characters in Suicide Squad.

I think what happens in film a lot is the male voice — and by voice I mean the character, the depth of the character, the performance of the characters, the resolution of the arc of the characters — is incredibly developed and very often the women are underdeveloped. In this case, I wanted women that had voices and had power and were powerful as women. As the father of daughters, I think it's important to give them examples that you that you can speak up in a role, and you can have a viewpoint.