Cape Town – In three days the Suicide Squad hits cinemas nationwide.
Will Smith plays Deadshot aka Floyd Lawton, a career mafia hit man and possibly the best marksman in the world.
In this quick Q&A he tells us about his character, how he trained for his stunt and what it's like to be a super-villain.
First of all, how cool is it to play Deadshot?
I know. It’s always great when you get a character that has a history already but has never been committed to film in this way. So I get to pull from years and years of Deadshot history but also have room to create, and people don’t already have an image in their mind that you have to live up to. It’s fantastic, and a really rare opportunity.
Deadshot – aka Floyd Lawton – is the most lethal assassin in this world, and he becomes the Squad’s leader, almost by default. When you were finding your way into the character, were there aspects that came to you intuitively and others you needed to dig a little deeper to find?
The thing that I really couldn’t get my head around was what would make someone able to kill people for money? How can you do that and not be a serial killer? That was the distinction that I had to find, but David does a really good job of researching. He put together a fascinating mix of people who had real experience with some of the things that our characters are dealing with in the film.
David also led me to a really interesting book called The Anatomy of Motive, by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The book was actually about serial killers, but John Douglas is the former head of Quantico in the FBI profiling division. So, I read the book, and one thing that really struck me was the idea was you never need to ask why someone did something. He did it because it felt good. Every human being does the things they do because it feels good.
That is fascinating. But Deadshot is an assassin with an Achilles heel, which is his love for his daughter. How do you see this internal war going on in the character we meet in the film?
Deadshot’s issue with his daughter was really key. In my career right now I’m taking movies that I feel will add to my life. I’m not looking to have hit movies; I’m looking to have experiences that elevate me in terms of my wisdom and understanding of life and the craft.
So, for me, that was a big part of playing this character because I had similar emotional experiences with my own daughter. I wanted to be a certain way and do certain things as a father, but it didn’t work for her as a daughter. That’s not the kind of father she wanted. That was a really painful shift for me to make; I had to actually back up and settle down, and try to develop a deeper understanding of what was going on with her. And Deadshot has a very similar emotional difficulty in wanting to be one thing, but his daughter demands something else.
There are a lot of practical stunts in the film and this is a very physical role. What kind of training did you do? Was that kind of its own adventure?
Yeah, it was a little dangerous. It was the first time I got what you might call an ‘old-man injury’ (laughs); during training, I was down for six weeks with a torn calf. I tore my calf and it was like, ‘Uh-oh! I got my first old-man injury!’ And ‘How in the hell do you tear your calf? Who tears their calf?’ So it was a little bit of a rude awakening for me that my action movie days are probably down to hours (laughs).
Super-villains are just as iconic to fans as Super Heroes. What do you think it is about them that we embrace, particularly with the Suicide Squad?
I think that super-villains have that quality that fairy tales have in that it’s so far removed from reality that you actually get to explore your own darker elements in a safe way. You are actually allowed to relate to Deadshot, or you’re allowed to relate to Harley Quinn or the Joker. It’s almost a strange kind of psychological release that somehow makes the hidden parts of yourself okay. I guess you could say that super-villains give you a license to enjoy being bad – just for a minute.
Suicide Squad releases in cinemas nationwide on Friday, 5 August.
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