Killer Croc may be a sewer-dwelling loner with a taste for human flesh, but Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje insists that beneath his scaly exterior, “Suicide Squad’s” resident reptilian cannibal only wants to be loved.
“There are some beautiful moments in the movie — tender moments, and unpredictable moments, and gentle moments, humorous moments,” he shared with a small group of journalists, including CBR News, on the Toronto set of director David Ayer‘s film. “And those are all whispers of who he was as Waylon Jones.”
Best known for his roles in “The Bourne Identity,” “Lost” and “Oz,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje also discussed the arduous makeup and prosthetic process, and researching alligators and real-life cannibals to prepare for what he describes as one of the most challenging roles of his career.
Talk about the makeup process. Did you know what you were going to get into with that?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: To answer your question first, no, I didn’t. It was a huge leap of faith. Obviously, David Ayer, Warner Bros., “Suicide Squad” — the whole package was very attractive. After having a few conversations with David about what he wanted to do, and how real-based he wanted to make it, I was excited for that.
But literally did I know what? Absolutely not. I didn’t actually read the script until we signed on. That was the process. But what is that process? The process is very, very interesting and arduous. First of all, I have probably one of the most amazing prosthetic teams in the business, Chris Nelson and the guys in LA. They’ve created, as you’ll see today, the most amazing prosthetic lifeform in the form of Killer Croc.
What that does for me, it just enables me to really bring him to life. I mean I’ve done this before, but never to this degree. The detail, the proportions, how real I can make it — it literally follows every crease on my face. But the actual process of getting into it, putting it on? On some days, when I’m just doing head and shoulders and the hands, it’s about three hours. But there will be the last section of the movie where I’m going to be fully body. That’s going to be about five, six hours.
Have you found a way to perform through it, to have your face, your emotions come through that plastic prosthetic?
It was a very real concern of mine when first approached about the project. I said to David, “Am I going to be recognizable?” He said, “Absolutely yes.” I think, for me, the challenge was, and still is, is to really displace the fact that I am wearing prosthetics for the audience, and really have the audience relate to the soul of this creature or hybrid, this creature/man. That’s my challenge. That’s what both me and David were aiming for — the soul of this creature — and not rely on prosthetics.
To that end, as I’ve said, I’ve been helped with the amazing look at it, because it feels very real. It’s literally glued onto my face. So, every movement, I played around with it quite a bit in the mirror before I went to camera. I tried to get the right motions. So that was really important.
One of the decisions that the director and I both agreed on was the non-use of contact lenses because it allows the viewer to really — you know, with the eyes being the window of the soul — it really allows them to connect with him, especially Croc or Waylon Jones, who he formerly was, with that part of him, that human part of him. And you feel this human trapped in this creature’s body.
So not having, initially, the contacts. Now, what they do with them later, I don’t know, but that was our initial talks. But not having that was very important for you to be able to connect with the soul of the creature. That’s my challenge, is to make him as real as possible. Both David and I, we talked extensively about the look. Obviously, there is a huge backlog of history and story of how he looks. But this was the first reincarnation of him in film. And David was very insistent on making it very real.
The color, you’ll notice, is my own skin tone, so that you can see the graduation of this disease that he has. So you’ll see it meshed in with my own skin into the scales of what he later becomes, which is Killer Croc.
There were different colors and shades, but again, wanting to keep it very real and very almost like this is a man that became a croc or inhabited crocodile features. He’s not a crocodile, he’s a man. So we wanted to show that in as many aspects as we could, from the skin tone, to not using the lenses, and even to his attire. We talked about how he was going to be dressed and living in the sewer and underground.
But again, in the world of Gotham, this is a supervillain that was really going toe to toe with Batman and about to take over. After we really analyze and evaluate that history, it was like, “Well, he wouldn’t really just be hiding simply under there depressed.” He’s owning that world.
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