"Suicide Squad's" David Ayer Dissects Leto's Joker, Explains Why He Called in Batman

Can you talk about the conception of the Joker this time around, especially coming years after we had that iconic role?

When you have someone as talented as Jared -- and then I think when you accept that Heath [Ledger] happened and "The Dark Knight" happened -- you just move forward. We instantly know who he is. We know how he makes us feel. We know how he's going to behave. Just one little drawn picture of him, and a character that fantastically iconic and powerful, almost emerges by itself. Once you start touching that character and playing with that character, he really does reveal himself in a lot of ways. And he's so defined. Jared has done nothing short of utterly transforming himself. He's done an incredible amount of work with the mannerisms, his voice and everything. When he steps on set, you feel it. You feel the energy. The crew feels it. It's going to be, I believe, nothing short of a revelation.

Does he talk to you in his Joker voice?

Yeah, when he shows up here, he's in character. When he's in his trailer, he's in character. When he emails me, he's in character. It's like, "Whoa. He's a little fucking scary." It would be nice to see Jared again. It's been a while.

We've heard a lot today about the Eyes of Adversary. Could you talk a little bit about that concept and maybe put them into context for us in the course of the film?

I had a dream. They are really disturbing. It's hard to come up with bad guys and it's hard to come up with creatures. I think it's one of the most difficult things. If you look at modern development in film, it's brutal. You want to do something fresh, yet I also want to do something very specific to this world and unique. I think we kind of nailed it. It's sort of related to the bad-guy stuff, and the bad-guy stuff is very much a sealed, locked box.

But, it's an idea, it's a concept that you came up with? It's not from anything in the comic books? It's your own creation and addition to the movie?

Only in the sense that if you look at Joker, he has his henchmen. There's always the henchmen concept in comic books. The specific visuals and what they are and how they work, sure. But, it's very much out of canon that you have these armies of servants.

Obviously, you may have heard that there are a lot of DC Comic movies that are going to be coming out now. How much connective tissue is there into the past and future of this new DC cinematic universe? How do you apply that idea that they are building this bigger world?

Watch this space. Get ready. That's all I'll say. Just get ready.

Just to expand on that. Can you talk about incorporating Batman? Was that in the original script? Was that something Warner Brothers came to you about or did it stem from conversations with Zack Snyder?

If you are going to do a DC comic book movie, you want Batman. I'm a little bit of a fanboy. I grew up reading Batman comics and there was the old Adam West show. I had the toy car. It's something important to me. I think it's every filmmaker's dream to be able to be given such an iconic asset like that and really see when the suit shows up on set - you have Ben [Affleck] in the suit - it's really like, "Fuck!" It's really cool.

Grown men cry.

Yes, grown men cry.

Was Batman in the original script, though?

Absolutely. The short answer is, "Yes."

As a filmmaker, do you look at this as a stand-alone picture? "I'm going to make one movie," even though I'm sure the studios and everyone would love a trilogy to come out. Do you just look at one or do you set threads for possible sequels?

Because of the nature of the comic book universe and the DC Universe, it's really infinite in any way you can go, especially the DC Universe. I think it's one of the most complex fiction universes with "Crisis" and pre-"Crisis" and the multi-dimensional nature and all the timelines. Each one of these characters could be their own film. The Suicide Squad could be a zillion films. The backbone of this story is right out of canon, and it's one comic book. I'm not going to say which one. That's just one out of a two-foot stack. The potential is always there, but as a filmmaker, you have to make the movie work and stand it up on its own two legs and be utterly complete as an experience. Otherwise, you are doing the movie injustice.

You said Joker was the rail when it comes to comic book fans, but Harley Quinn is a character that people have been demanding more and more of. When you touched on it earlier, you implied that wasn't, "I've got to put Harley in this movie. That's my reason for doing it. It just came out naturally."

No, I wanted Harley. She's freaking cool. She represents so many dichotomies in today's world where everything is so sensitive and you can't talk about anything or represent anything and you can't do anything. She doesn't care. She transcends everything. That's what is so fascinating about her. She's so many things, and such a powerful woman who is living life on her own terms and so honestly in the moment. And, a person who has an incredible joy in the moment. It's great to be able to work with that character. Margot [Robbie] is kicking her out of the park. Unbelievable. She's doing her own stunts, too. I've never seen that. Incredible.

You have about a month left of shooting. Is there something, or someone, that really took you by surprise once you got into the shooting process and started putting stuff on film?

It's such a huge animal that it's almost hard to break it up that way. The good news is everything came together. Everything worked because when you prep a movie, it's guess work. Will this work? Will the wardrobe work? Will the costumes work? Will this characterization that the actors are doing work? The special effects. The methodology. The techniques. Everything is so in-camera and realistic and practical. Sure, there's CG, but we don't want to lean on it. All these guesses somehow came together, but it's less about any one thing and more about how shocking the chemistry between the actors has become.

They are like thick as thieves. They are scary together. They are like this little gang now. They are truly like a posse. It's a wonder to behold. That's not normal in this business, sadly, because it's a very isolated business. You have actors and they go from show-to-show and travel and live out of suitcases. It is a very isolating lifestyle and I don't think people understand that. To see people willingly hang out on set when they are not working - and they are always together, even when they don't have to be - is rare.

How would you describe the tone of the movie? The early buzz is it's very dark. There were reports that you had therapists on set for the actors. Today we've been getting a lot about how funny it is. I wanted to get your perspective on it.

It's both. We're out of our freaking minds now. The Greek symbol of drama is a happy mask/sad mask. If you have too much of one, it's imbalanced. I think the best movies are the ones that can make you double over in laughter and cry, which I hope this will do for the audience. I think people will be really surprised by how much humor is in the movie. But, at the same time, it's like an honest, situational, character-based humor versus the low-hanging fruit. You really believe it.

You want "Suicide Squad" to be real and gritty, but you also have the Enchantress, who is a magical character. What was the thought process behind introducing the supernatural element?

Magic has been seen throughout human history, and the belief in the supernatural and the belief in transformative abilities. Even today, there's people of faith that believe in miracles and there's a pantheon of world gods, all with these amazing abilities. All the answers are there.

As a filmmaker, how are you dealing with the fan anticipation and the fan scrutiny on a movie like this? What's that like, dealing with the DC world?

It's impetus to not fuck it up. I'm a fan, too. I believe in canon and I believe in being respectful to how storylines and characters interlock, and understanding how not to break things, I think, is the number #1 thing. How not to break a character, how not to do something that encroaches on the storylines and histories - it's like archaeology.

"Suicide Squad" opens Aug. 5.

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