Suicide Squad: Interview with Star Will Smith

Will Smith stars in Warner’s eagerly awaited, ensemble-driven Suicide Squad, which opens theatrically August 5.

Role of Deadshot

suicide_squad_posterWill Smith: What was really interesting and fun for me and this role was that I realized why I haven’t played bad guys in the past. So when I first started with Deadshot, I couldn’t understand how someone could shoot strangers for money. I couldn’t get my head around that.  Director David Ayer introduced me to a book called The Anatomy of Motive, and it’s a book about serial killers. And the first line of the book is why did he do it? And it was so interesting as it went through and the author was talking about the question doesn’t make any sense to ask why did he do it. He said human beings do things because they feel better than not doing it.  So the question to ask is why does it feel good to do it? And then once that idea got introduced to me, it was like, nobody thinks of themselves as bad, like people do the things that they do because they think they are right, no matter how evil and how awful it seems to us. And once I got introduced to that idea, I expanded as a person and I expanded as an actor and an understanding and even comprehension of world events and what things that are going on in the world.  It was really a powerful revelation as an actor and as a man.

Violence and Hyper Reality

One of the major things in this film and in comic books in general is getting outside of reality. Getting into hyper reality so it’s not real deep, heavy violence. It’s the gift of David Ayer that he took us to this hyper realistic world and even the design of the bad guys, it maintains the comic book. But what Ayer was able to do was, he took it into that hyper realistic space, but acting wise, the performances of all of the actors, everybody is giving real performances. Jared really kicked it off taking it seriously.  I went into it thinking, hey great summer movie comic, and we are going have some fun.  Jared and Viola Davis really elevated the level of acting that everybody had to focus and get done.

Hollywood Changing? Rainbow of People
suicide_squad_1What is happening, and you will start to see it all across these big tentpole movies, as the studios are having to spend more and more to have a tentpole movie, it starts to demand a wider spectrum to be able to just to protect the investment. So when you see a film like this between Kitana and El Diablo and Deadshot and Rick Flag and we got Australia and Japan, the rainbow of the world is going to start to be represented more and more in these types of films. That is one of the aspects I am really proud of with Suicide Squad. What it presents though which is interesting in these sizes of ensemble casts, it breaks your storytelling paradigms.  We start to learn and figure out how do you tell the story of ten characters in a way that still has the emotional resonance of single character story. So it’s fun and interesting to see. And also what is happening with these movies, when you are introduced to Suicide Squad and this film is really just the first act and you are thinking about it in terms of three and four movies down the line.  The way that millennials are consuming the material is less beginning, middle and end the way we all did with our films, where it all needed to be finished when you get to the end. They actually not wanted to be finished and they wanted to follow these characters for the next decade. So it’s an interesting new world and we are just kind of getting our footing in it. On this film, we had the beautiful rainbow spectrum of people from all different races, creeds and colors and we also had an age differential.  I am in my 40s and other people are in their 20s. So when Margot comes to work and says hey everybody look, I got a tattoo gun, let’s all get tattoos, I am like, no! All the 20 year olds can get tattoos. I am 47 and I am not going home, honey look! Look what I got!

Playing Unlikable Character

suicide_squad_11_letoThat was the part my sons loved. My sons saw the film a couple of days ago and my oldest son Trey, he was like dude, that’s it, stop acting. You will never do anything cooler than that ever. That’s it, it’s downhill from here. But it’s interesting, you look for things that you can relate to. So part of that central line that I was able to relate to, Deadshot’s daughter is the one aspect that holds him to his humanity. This is a guy who has given up on the world and given up on people a long time ago. And then had a daughter and she is that one thread to humanity. But what he wants is to be able to put his middle finger up to the world and just kill people to make them suffer for how the world has treated him. And he can’t because of this daughter. And so for me, a long time ago I decided, I want to be the biggest movie star in the world and all of that and I really dedicated a lot of my time and my energy to that. But when Willow was born, all of a sudden, I couldn’t commit the way that I wanted and there were things I couldn’t do because I couldn’t go away for that long. And the movies I had to turn down, because I didn’t want to be in that psychological space for my family. That was one of the things with Django, I had Django and it came up as a possibility and I was seriously considering it, and Willow said but daddy, you are going to be crazy for a long time. So I could really relate to having that little girl keeping you from doing the things you want to do because she wants you there so she can love you.

Dealing with Teenagers
I think a teenager should be considered an affliction.  Like when you talk to other parents like oh man, you got a teenager, I am sorry. (laughter) Sorry to hear that. You know Jaden just turned eighteen and Willow is about to be sixteen. My oldest son is 24 so that is good. But a 15 year old girl is, there is nothing harder you will ever do than try to parent a 15 year old girl. The world ends every day. (laughter) Something happens that makes the world not be able to continue every single day. So I am hoping to get through these teenage years and I had it easy up until now. But starting to be quite challenging.

Oscars Lack of Diversity

What was most frustrating about that time is that people thought that we were speaking out because I didn’t get nominated. And it was like no, no, no, there was a much bigger wave that was happening in the world. We were like, in Hollywood we cannot be a part of the fascist wave that is sweeping the globe. There is this really separatist non-inclusive xenophobic, racist wave that is sweeping the globe that is making us pull apart farther than putting us together. But what we were saying is that no, no, Hollywood has to lead, we have to lead in what the future is going to be and we can’t go backwards and we have to show imagery of what the future of our world should look like and we have to get out ahead in terms of inclusiveness and in terms of the new world. So it was much more about that than it was about, not even about awards as much as it’s about how we interact and how it’s important, Hollywood, we are the arbiters of global imagery. Hollywood puts more images, more widely into the world than any other global artistic form. So I think it’s hugely important that we are very careful and very focused on what we show and what we say, because that next generation of children are going to look at that and point to that and want to be that. So for me, hat is a part of why being a part of this cast is so inspiring for me. But you guys do a really great job with diversity.

Choosing Roles
I have actually made a huge shift in my career and in my choosing of films.  I said yes to Suicide Squad and there wasn’t even a script. David Ayer, he came, he pitched it, and he said what he wanted to do and I loved Fury and he wrote Training Day and so I loved what he did and I heard who the cast was and I said I am in. I am trying to be less precious about the process of choosing. I would go for a year before deciding to take something. So going with filmmakers when I feel a filmmaker and when I hear the idea and as long as there is a central idea that I believe in and with Suicide Squad, the idea of, not good versus evil, but David Ayer said this, but bad versus evil. The question of when is someone so bad that they become so bad, that they become evil? When are they no longer redeemable? Can you do something so bad that you are no longer welcome to contribute to the human family? So as a central idea, I liked that idea and we will ride with it and go with it. Then in Collateral Beauty, Collateral Beauty is hard to talk about, there’s so many spoilers. It’s such a clever beautiful idea so we can’t talk about it a lot, but I love the concept of it that it has in Collateral Beauty and essentially it’s about a character, my character, who experiences a great loss and he sort of loses his mind and he starts writing letters to love, time and death. So he starts writing these letters and he starts mailing these letters. He is part of a company and his friends want to sell the company before they all find out he’s crazy so they get this big offer for the company, but they can’t sell it because my character owns 51 percent. So what they decide to do is that they need to prove that I am incapacitated, so they hire actors to respond to the letters and they are going to record my conversations and prove that I am crazy. So they hire actors to play love, time and death, to come and respond to me. And then from that point, it has a, It’s A Wonderful Life, sort of Wizard of Oz style, but it’s really beautiful and it’s really fun and it’s about this guy coming back to life as his friends are basically trying to take his business from him. But it turns out to be a beautiful thing.

Creating Art for Love
That’s really interesting, I like that one. So, I guess really in the last three or four years have I really landed on the idea that hit movies will never make you happy, gigantic box office or great clothes or being in shape, the only thing that is ever going to make you happy is being able to create loving relationships, and who are the people that you dedicate your life to and you give all of your time for that love? And in finding that, it’s also reinvigorated my artistry, cause now that I look at films, when I look at my films, they have to be an act of love. So when I deliver a film, when I see, we went to Comic Con and the little kids’ faces and then Margot walks in and the little girls dressed as Harley Quinn and it’s like that thing, that energy is an act of love. So for me in the creation of the art, I have re-centered, I used to be about product and performance and I have now shifted to and it’s a slight shift and it’s always been there, but now it has to be about people. You have to start with how is this going to improve someone’s life? And if you can’t answer that question, you shouldn’t do it. And time, time is our only human commodity, so time is the only thing that you have to offer to people. And how you, it’s funny they say, paying attention, and that’s what it is, you are paying attention, you are emptying out your account, you are paying attention. So that idea of how you spend your time, spend your time, it’s like money, how do you spend your time is hugely important So in the same way that when you go out to purchase something, you are giving away your money and the things that you buy are going to reflect what your life is. And your time is the greatest human commodity and how you spend it is everything.

Donald Trump as President
No way. We are not even going to play with that one. We are not even going to pretend that is going to happen.  I have faith in America. America has had really critical times and the good ideas, they suffer, but they tend to make their way to the top.  There was one thing and I don’t want to go into all of it because I could definitely do a half hour on this, but the one that hit me the most for a man to be able to publicly refer to a woman as a fat pig, that makes me teary, just for a man to refer to a woman as a fat pig, and people applaud, like that is absolute fucking insanity to me. My grandmother would have smacked my teeth out of my head if I had referred to a woman as a fat pig. And I cannot understand how people can clap for that and it’s absolutely collective insanity. So for me deep down in my heart, I believe that America won’t and we can’t and there’s no way that that is what we want to applaud in front of our children. If one of my sons, I am getting furious just thinking about it, if one of my sons said that in a public place, they couldn’t even live in my house anymore. And I just cannot figure out how that is okay. So of all the things, we could go through the laundry list, but that was the one that was such an absolute illustration of the darkness of the soul that could do that, I just cannot figure out how people can clap for that. And I think as much as we want love to be the greatest humor motivator, it’s not, fear is. Fear is the most dangerous and powerful motivator. When a human being gets scared, fight or flight kicks in. And that is the importance of leaders, that they have to be level headed. Leaders have to be calm, because when people get scared, they lose their morality. When people get scared, fight or flight kicks in and that reptile mind takes over and you know it’s the type of thing that you see in all forms of nature, but our leaders can’t be that.