With James Gunn's The Suicide Squad hitting theaters and HBO Max starting August 6 and the John-Cena-starring spinoff series Peacemaker having just wrapped production ahead of its January 2022 debut, Gunn and Cena have started hitting the press junket to begin promoting both projects. In the following interview with EW, the duo discuss what makes the character so interesting, who Gunn went to before Cena, and how Peacemaker will dial things up from The Suicide Squad.
What Fascinates Cena About The Character: "The Peacemaker is an interesting character because his ego seems contradictory. He is this guy who has developed this philosophy and he can use it as a blanket to behave badly: 'I am doing this thing that is morally wrong but I am doing it in the name of peace so it's okay.' He views himself as a superhero but I think a lot of us would watch his actions and think that they're morally wrong. In WWE I always try to get people to describe their characters in one sentence and I think that one sentence [for the Peacemaker is] 'He wants peace so much he's willing to kill for it.'"
On Why "Peacemaker" Will Be Even More "More" Than "The Suicide Squad": "I would venture to say that Peacemaker actually turns up the volume on anything that you see in 'The Suicide Squad.' I want people to enjoy 'The Suicide Squad' and I really think they will. Once they get a feel for these characters they're going to want more and that's where 'Peacemaker' picks up."
On How Zack Snyder's Gain Was Also Gunn's (& Cena's) Gain: While Cena already seems made for the role, he wasn't Gunn's first choice. Dave Bautista ("Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise) was first offered the role but he chose Snyder's Army of the Dead instead. Cena: "I truly believe that in life we don't find opportunity, it finds us. I didn't look at myself as a second choice; I just looked at it as a chance to do the best I could."
For Gunn, Cena Was a Risk Worth Taking: "He was a bit of a risk. I'm hiring someone without auditioning. But he came in on the first day and just slayed and ended up being the best improvisational actor I've ever worked with in my life."
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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