In basic training, the military loves to play mind games with new recruits. Inculcation includes messing with expectations and wearing people down both physically and mentally. When you get past the soldier skills portion of basic, the next step is AIT (Advanced Individual Training); there are weeks to months of honing your specific job skills. For me, that included even more mind games, including interrogation, planning and committing a crime with a group of fellow soldiers, then being detained, questioned, polygraphed, and harassed. It was a sometimes harrowing process, doing things that go against one’s nature and being compelled to lie. Those nasty interrogations we’ve all read about in the news or seen on television can break down a person quicker than you’d think. You can see David Ayer’s military background in his films and, for Suicide Squad, it sounds like he dug even deeper. We’ve heard about Jared Leto’s over-the-top antics in the name of method acting, but that was probably all part of Ayers’ plan.
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.
Reports from the cast about the director’s behavior is illuminating.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was instructed by Ayer to listen to tapes of Issei Sagawa (a Japanese murderer who killed, then chopped up and ate his victim), and Joel Kinnaman had to watch “horrific” military videos.
High on mushrooms during a Skype call with Ayer, Courtney has recounted burning himself with cigarettes.
And, speaking to Stephen Colbert this week, Courtney described an intense regimen, including being questioned by detectives. He didn’t seem to mind, though. When Colbert asked if Ayer was running a cult, Courtney said he didn’t know but “I’m in, though.”
As for his (“Captain”) Boomerang haircut, Ayer took care of that personally.
I turned up to discuss my look, expecting we’d have a long discussion and slowly he’d refine it. David just walked right in, picked up some clippers and started shearing chunks of hair off my head, Eventually he said, ‘You look like bad news.’ Then he left.
Finally, during this interview in Miami, Ayer shot down “the most ridiculous” rumor he’s heard about Suicide Squad (at the 3:25 mark):
If you can’t watch the video right now, I’ll spoiler code it for you here.
Meet you at the theater, August 5th!