When Warner Bros. and DC announced they were working on bringing the Suicide Squad to the big screen, people were a bit confused. How would a film about villains, with a roster of virtually unknown characters, work as the third film in the newly created DC Expanded Universe? Against all odds, including being ravaged by critics, the film went on to be a huge box office success. However, even with Suicide Squad breaking records and bringing in tons of money, the production of the film was far from a smooth ride.
It seems that every step of the way, from announcing David Ayer as the writer/director to pretty much everything involving Jared Leto, the process of bringing Suicide Squad to theaters was in the news. As an outsider looking in, the production of Suicide Squad sounds like a more interesting story than anything going on with the actual plot of the film. Who cares about The Enchantress when you have Jared Leto acting like a lunatic? There were casting issues, drama with the reshoots, editing issues, and cast members getting ridiculous gifts from the Joker. However, that just scratches the surface. So, let’s take a look behind the curtain and discuss 18 dirty secrets that happened during the production of Suicide Squad.
18 6 WEEKS TO WRITE
From day one, it seems the production of the Suicide Squad film was destined to be bumpy. Before David Ayer was hired to write and direct, the filmmaker was best known for a variety of smaller films, including Fury, Sabotage and End of Watch. These were all very dark, violent films, and the hire of Ayer seemed like a good fit to direct the film about a group of villains.
Unfortunately, from the moment he signed on the dotted line, Ayer was already behind schedule. According to numerous reports, Warner Bros. had deals with merchandising companies and a small window of time with the cast, which meant that Ayer was only going to have six weeks to write the script. When the film premiered, it was evident that the story, dialogue and characters all suffered due to this issue. Sadly, we’ll never know what type of film Ayer could have made with enough time to develop a script.
17 RYAN GOSLING AS THE JOKER
One of the most controversial aspects of Suicide Squad is the performance of Jared Leto as the Joker. Sadly, Leto was written off by many fans even before they saw one frame of the finished film. After the first photo was released of the Joker, fans freaked out due to the character's big departure from anything seen in the comics. However, maybe that would have been different if Warner Bros. had its first choice for the role.
Actor Ryan Gosling isn’t the first person you think of when thinking about actors that would be a great Joker. That didn’t stop WB from desperately trying to hire Gosling for the role. Sadly, Gosling was worried about committing to a large franchise film, with clear sequel plans, so he passed. Would Gosling’s Joker have been the showy, tattooed Joker that Leto gave us? Who knows, but unfortunately, we’ll never find out.
16 MASSIVE RESHOOTS
Reshoots are a common occurrence for superhero films. Marvel Studios has always scheduled chunks of time for reshoots even before it start initial filming. However, the reshoots surrounding Suicide Squad were a little different, and you have Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice to thank for that. After BvS debuted in March, critics killed the film. Fans came out to support the movie, but ultimately the film was seen as a bit of a failure, and the dark, dour tone was to blame.
Warner Bros. heard the criticisms and decided to focus their Suicide Squad reshoots on adding a bit more levity to the film. This “course correction” led to a bit of a debate behind the scenes, with David Ayer wanting to keep his darker tone. However, the studio won that argument, and in the final film, you can see that shift from Batman v Superman’s darkness to a much more fun Suicide Squad.
15 DIFFERENT RICK FLAG
When the initial casting was announced for Suicide Squad, Tom Hardy was announced as Rick Flag. Fans were ecstatic because Tom Hardy is an actor who always brings something special to films he’s in. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, Hardy had to drop out of the cast. That left a big hole in the cast to fill, and Warner Bros. went to the top of the A-list to find a replacement.
Enter Jake Gyllenhaal. After Hardy dropped out, Gyllenhaal was approached for the role. However, for some unknown reason, Gyllenhaal declined the role. Then Warner Bros. looked at actors Joel Edgerton and Jon Bernthal. We’re not sure if either of them were offered the role, but we know that relatively unknown actor Joel Kinnaman ended up landing it.
14 MULTIPLE EDITORS
It’s a common saying in the film industry that a movie is created three different times. First, in the script. Second, in the filming. Third, and final, when the film is edited. There is no greater example of this than in Suicide Squad. After massive reshoots hoping to add some levity to the film, David Ayer still turned in a version that was fairly close to his dark sensibilities. Warner Bros. hoping for something a little different, and seeing how well the trailers were received by fans, approached Trailer Park, the company behind the trailers, to do its own edit.
The result were two wildly different versions of the film. The studio screened them for audiences, but still couldn’t come to a conclusion on which version was best. So, it decided to have its cake and eat it too, and created a third version, combining both cuts. The result is an edit that is clearly “frankensteined” together, for better or worse.
13 OPRAH AS AMANDA WALLER
People might not realize it, but Oprah Winfrey is an Academy Award nominated actress. Back in 1985, her role in The Color Purple earned her a coveted Oscar nom. However, in recent years, her acting career has been reduced quite a bit, with only a few small roles. When Warner Bros. was casting the role of Amanda Waller, the fairly evil creator of the Suicide Squad, the studio decided to give Winfrey a call.
After speaking to Winfrey, as well as actresses Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis, the studio had Oprah as its top choice for the role. We’re not exactly sure what happened, but Winfrey declined the role, resulting in Davis taking over. Unfortunately, we’ll never get to see Oprah murder a room full of people in cold blood. On film, at least...
12 JOKER ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR
Throughout the course of promoting Suicide Squad, actor Jared Leto was far from shy with divulging behind the scenes secrets. In the trailers, Leto’s Joker was featured front and center. It was assumed that he was, in fact, the film’s main villain. However, when fans watched the finished film, they were a bit stunned to see that the Joker is barely in Suicide Squad. That isn’t due to a lack of footage, though.
According to Leto, there was quite a bit on the cutting room floor. “Were there any that didn’t get cut? I’m asking you, were there any that didn’t get cut? There were so many scenes that got cut from the movie, I couldn’t even start,” said the actor. In another interview, Leto even said there’s enough cut scenes to make an entire Joker film.
11 KING SHARK INSTEAD OF KILLER CROC
When the Suicide Squad film was announced, comic book fans wondered just which characters would show up in the film. The cast of villains has changed quite a bit over the years in the comics, so there was plenty for the studio to choose from. One such character was King Shark.
Writer/Director David Ayer initially wanted King Shark in the film, but ultimately decided on another animalistic character. In an interview, he said, “One of the characters I was thinking about for the Squad line-up was actually King Shark. But we realized it would take a lot of work, a lot of CG work. I wasn’t quite comfortable having a full-CG character. We actually ended up going with Killer Croc, who turned out to be the right guy for the job.”
10 JOKER’S GIFTS
Jared Leto is a method actor. What that means is that, for many of his roles, Leto never leaves character, even between scenes. So, for Suicide Squad, the rest of the cast was put in a situation where they didn’t talk to Jared Leto. Instead, they only interacted with the Joker. That meant, when the Joker sends his cast-mates gifts, he sends very…unique gifts.
Rats, bullets, a dead pig, used condoms, anal beads and adult magazines are just several of the gifts that were given to castmates. Some were welcome, with Harley Quinn actress Margot Robbie loving her rat, but others were less welcome. Once the film was released, and Leto himself was criticized, the actor backtracked a little on the crazy stories surrounding the gifts. However, the damage was done. Fans all over the world know exactly how far Leto went to get into the mindset of a madman.
9 CAST FIST FIGHTS
Suicide Squad director David Ayer is an interesting guy, to say the least. This is the director who stood up in front of a huge crowd and said, “F--- Marvel!” Clearly, this isn’t Steven Spielberg. One of the wilder stories about Suicide Squad’s production comes from the rehearsals, where Ayer was trying to get his cast to come together. He wanted them to bond. What better way to bond than a fist fight?
In an interview, the director said, “The rehearsal was very intense. It wasn’t a normal rehearsal, we’d talk about their lives, their history, and really got them to open up as people to each other. I also had them fight. I had them fight each other. You learn a lot about who a person really is when you punch them in the face. It gets rid of a lot of the actor stuff.”
8 WATCHING TORTURE VIDEOS
When Joel Kinnaman signed up to play Rick Flag, the elite military leader of the Suicide Squad, he probably thought he’d have an intense training regimen. He definitely did. This included working with former Navy SEALS and CIA operatives. The time spent with the SEALS was incredibly difficult. It included sleep deprivation, crazy workouts, and all the military training he’d need to look legit as Flag. The craziest aspect of his training had to be the selection of videos he was given to watch.
“They’d show me videos of cartel beheadings and torture,” the actor said in an interview. Wow. Kinnaman signs up to be in a superhero movie in the DC Universe, but ends up having to endure torture videos for research. No matter how you think Kinnaman did in the role, you have to at least give him credit for the training he endured.
7 TRAILER LEAKED
Every step of the marketing plan for a huge superhero movie is meticulously planned. No studio wants anything leaked ahead of time. So, when the Suicide Squad sizzle reel from the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con was leaked online, Warner Bros. was not pleased. The footage that leaked was poor quality, but went viral. WB decided to release a high-quality version of the footage just to make sure the pirated version would go away.
In hindsight, you can see why WB probably didn’t want the footage to leak. The footage, shown a full year before the release date, is very different from the finished film. It’s dark, somber and nowhere near as kinetic as the promotional materials eventually released. If you watch that trailer today, it feels almost like a fan-made alternate version of the film.
6 ON-SET THERAPIST
Suicide Squad director David Ayer did a variety of unconventional things to get his actors in the mindset of a villain. He really put his actors through the emotional, and physical, ringer just to get them to give every ounce to the film. That sort of commitment can result in some unexpected side effects. To counteract those effects, Ayer brought in a therapist for his actors.
Slipknot actor Adam Beach discussed this in an interview before the film’s release, saying, “David Ayer is about realism. So, if your character is tormented, he wants you to torment yourself. He wants the real thing… We kind of have like a therapist on board if you fall off the wagon and really are villainous. There’s a friend of [Ayer's] that's very unique in making sure we have our ground.” No word on whether or not any of Squad’s actors went on to become truly “villainous.”
5 WILL SMITH WAS A GOOD SHOT
Will Smith is a professional. After being one of the biggest stars in the world for over 20 years, the actor knows what to do to get prepared for a role. Taking on the role of Deadshot, Will Smith knew that he had to look legit firing a gun. No matter how much Hollywood magic goes on in post-production, if Smith didn’t look believable as one of the best hitmen on the planet, then he would have failed.
To prepare, Smith trained with a variety of guns, including a Glock 9mm handgun and an AR-15 assault rifle. Video exists of Smith training on the range with these weapons and it’s impressive. Some reports coming out of his training say that the actor become incredible with the guns, becoming a very minor version of Deadshot himself.
4 ARROW HAD TO KILL THE SUICIDE SQUAD
There was a forgotten victim to the Suicide Squad’s big screen success – CW’s Arrow. The TV show was actually the first place to feature the Squad in live-action. With Deadshot and company showing up in major storylines on the show, it was clear that the team behind Arrow had big plans for the Suicide Squad in upcoming seasons. In fact, they even teased the appearance of Harley Quinn.
Unfortunately, all those plans were brought to a halt by Warner Bros. Trying to create a bit of synergy among viewers, the studio didn’t want Arrow to confuse fans by featuring the same characters on the small screen. So, in a quick story on the show, the Suicide Squad was killed off. All the plans that involved Harley, Deadshot and the others were shelved.
3 EMMA ROBERTS AS HARLEY
When you watch Suicide Squad, and you see Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, you can’t imagine anyone else playing that role. Robbie seems born to play the Joker’s love interest and Suicide Squad member. So, it might surprise you to find out that Robbie wasn’t the studio’s first choice for Harley.
In fact, actress Emma Roberts was initially offered the role. The young actress was offered the coveted Quinn gig, but turned the role down to pursue a starring role in the Fox TV series Scream Queens. Of course, in hindsight, this might not have been the best choice for the actress, but in the end, fans probably won out. Considering Robbie was seen by many as the highlight of the film, it seems like everything worked out in the end.
2 CAST INTERROGATIONS
It’s a director’s job to get the best possible takes out of his actors. Some directors will do this through collaboration with the actor. Some will even become friends and reach a new level by developing a more personal relationship. Suicide Squad director David Ayer hired detectives to come in and interrogate his cast. Everyone has their own methods, it seems.
According to multiple interviews, actors from the film said that Ayer hired police professionals, who were friends of the director, to come in and interview/interrogate the cast. The purpose being that the information given during those interviews could be used by Ayer to get a big reaction from his cast during filming. Some might say this is emotional abuse, but Ayer would probably just say it’s good directing. To-may-to, To-mah-to.
1 JAI COURTNEY WAS ON DRUGS
Actor Jai Courtney might win the award for going to new heights to get a role. In an interview, Courtney discussed the process he went through to get the role of Digger Harkness, aka Captain Boomerang, in Suicide Squad. During a Skype call with director David Ayer, Courtney said, “That night I happened to eat some mushrooms, and I did self-inflict some burns.”
Apparently, it worked because Courtney did get the role as Suicide Squad’s resident wild-card and drunk. Of course, after the story went viral, Jai Courtney tried to backtrack a little bit and deny the reports. However, this could be an instance when an actor’s honesty comes through when maybe it shouldn’t have. Either way, an argument could be made that Courtney never stopped doing drugs during the film’s production. That would explain a lot.
Do you know any juicy behind-the-scenes stories about Suicide Squad? Let us know in the comments!