'The Suicide Squad' Star Idris Elba Didn't Know Which Character He'd Be Playing When He Joined The Film

It's easy to go into superhero blockbusters with the assumption that every role has been predetermined and focus-tested from the start, providing little room for real spur-of-the-moment creativity or inspiration on the part of the actual storytellers. Well, star Idris Elba is setting the record straight with James Gunn's The Suicide Squad. His latest quotes might seem somewhat alarming on the surface, but instead they paint a refreshing, insightful picture of just how collaborative their process really was. Trust between an actor and director, as you might imagine, goes a long way.

So, Why Join the Suicide Squad?

While talking to Esquire Middle East (via Collider), Elba explained why he jumped headfirst at the chance to sign on to The Suicide Squad. It turns out, it had nothing to do with knowing the precise details about the actual character he might be playing and had everything to do with working with Gunn:

"I signed on because I really wanted to work with James. He's a genius, I think. I really was so touched and honored that someone of his talent was really keen to work with me, even though we didn't have a necessary roadmap of who the character was. I very quickly invested in the exploration of that, because we could go anywhere."

This quote speaks volumes about the free-wheeling, yet highly collaborate atmosphere native to a James Gunn production. Although there are some carryovers from David Ayer's Suicide Squad film in this sort-of-but-not-really-sequel, Gunn clearly treated this project as a clean slate with endless potential for the franchise...even if a not-insignificant number of characters are ticketed for some gruesome deaths. When it came to the process of nailing down of who exactly Elba's character would be, it would seem they took a similar approach:

"Essentially, we got invested in the possibilities. There were maybe a few possibilities of a character from the DC universe that could be implemented into the film. However, what really sat at the heart of it was James wanting to take a sort of old 80s action hero-type character and dismantle that. Then get into these great discussions about what that might look like, and how we do that, and it became very clear that he wanted to use Bloodsport as that character."

Clearing the Air

When Elba was first circling the (unknown) role for this film, some rather uncharitable rumors flew around that the Pacific Rim and Luthor actor would be stepping in to officially replace Will Smith as Deadshot. Based on those quotes above, this couldn't have been further from the truth. Elba himself acknowledges those stories and sets the record straight himself: "There was a rumor that my character might be a replacement for Will's character in the first movie, but no, James had really very clearly stated that wasn't what we were doing."

Of course, we've since learned that Elba is portraying Bloodsport, a man who starts the film serving time in jail for sending none other than Superman himself to the hospital with a kryptonite bullet. We still know little about how the movie unfolds and if he'll be among the lucky souls who'll actually make it to the end of the story intact, but initial reactions suggest we're in for something special either way.

The Suicide Squad will release in theaters and on HBO Max on August 6, 2021.