With his The Suicide Squad set to tear up big screens and streaming screens starting this week, James Gunn has been hitting the press circuit to not only discuss the film but also other upcoming projects (like The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special)- but the television topic that caught our eye (no surprise) were the updates he had to offer about the upcoming John Cena-starring spinoff series for HBO Max, Peacemaker. Expected to premiere this January, Gunn spoke with the fine folks over at Collider about The Suicide Squad when he also dropped these details on the story, production, editing process, and episode runtimes.
On Series Storyline & Ensemble Cast: Revealing that the series will be focused on "one big storyline", Gunn laid out who the main players will be. "Every character has their own story. So there's the six main characters of Peacemaker, Leota Adebayo, who's Danielle Brooks, Emilia Harcourt, who's Jennifer Holland, Vigilante, who's Freddie Stroma, Clemson Murn, who is Chukwudi Iwuji, and John Economos, who is Steve Agee. It's really an ensemble about those six characters."
On Why He Appreciates Television Storytelling: "You are able to let things relax. You are able to really, fully focus on the characters. Something can be funny. It can go on for a little while. You get into the nuances of the dramatic relationships that you don't have time for in a movie, and you don't have to have that constantly chugging along [pace] that you have in a movie… You can have a scene that doesn't have to do with anything in a TV show because it's such a large format. We've got eight hours of storytelling, [so] we can have something go off, and it doesn't really need to go to point A and point B and point C like you do in a movie… So I loved the format of television. I had a blast, and I think it suited me very well."
Episode Lengths & Editing Updates: Confirming that the eight episodes are on average "more like 40-something minutes" though "some are longer than others and some are shorter", Gunn says the editing process is "pretty far along." Getting more specific, Gunn continued, "The first three are pretty much completely edited. Four and five are coming along. They're a little slower because they were directed by other people. Six, I just saw the first cut of last night, which I directed, I'm really happy with. And then eight is most of the way edited, and so is seven, which is [directed] by Brad Anderson."
Steve Agee (Super, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Brightburn) rejoins Gunn and John Cena when he reprises his film role of John Economos, a warden of Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary and an aide to Viola Davis' Amanda Waller (the actor also portrays King Shark in the film). Danielle Brooks (Orange Is The New Black) joins the series as Leota Adebayo, with Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) in the role of Auggie Smith. Jennifer Holland (Brightburn) reprises her film role of Emilia Harcourt, and Freddie Stroma (Bridgerton) takes on the role of Adrian Chase aka Vigilante.
In addition, Chukwudi Iwuji (When They See Us) as Clemson Murn, Lochlyn Munro (Riverdale) as Larry Fitzgibbon, Annie Chang (Shades of Blue) as Detective Sophie Song, Christopher Heyerdahl (Togo) as Captain Locke, Nhut Le (Kroll Show) as Judomaster, and Elizabeth Faith Ludlow (The Walking Dead) and Rizwan Manji (Perfect Harmony) as recurring characters of Keeya and Jamil. Recently, Alison Araya (Riverdale) and Lenny Jacobson (Narcos: Mexico) have been tapped for the roles of the married couple Amber and Evan, respectively.
Gunn, Brad Anderson (Session 9), Rosemary Rodriguez (The Walking Dead), and Jody Hill (The Righteous Gemstones) direct the eight-episode series. Gunn and The Suicide Squad producer Peter Safran will serve as executive producers, with Cena as co-executive producer. Peacemaker will be produced by Gunn's Troll Court Entertainment and The Safran Company in association with Warner Bros TV. Though specific details on the series are being kept under the same kind of wraps as the film, Peacemaker will explore the origins of the character that Cena will play in the upcoming film, a man who believes in peace at any cost — no matter how many people he has to kill to get it.
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