Suicide Squad director David Eyre on the Russian cameraman and the hate of the actors
At the box office, one of the main blockbusters of the summer - the hooligan comic action movie "Suicide Squad". Its director David Eyre told Lenta.ru about why he tortured the actors before filming, how the film differs from ordinary representatives of the superhero genre, and what does Tarkovsky have to do with it.
In general, it was difficult to imagine that one day you will make a movie based on a comic strip.
David Eyre: Let's be honest - me too! I've never been that big of a comic book fan. But when I was offered to take on "Suicide Squad", I didn't have to think too long: such interesting characters, such tempting possibilities, such an interesting genre. In the world of comics, to be honest, I swim, but the studio was not embarrassed. On the contrary, they were looking for someone with a clean look, someone who could take up this story and approach it with their unique designer optics.
Yes, if we ignore the details, we can trace the relationship. The heroes of Suicide Squad are not that different from the tortured cops of the Patrol or the soldiers from Rage. Everyone is traumatized in one way or another, everyone is far from perfect, everyone becomes a brotherhood in the face of a threat.
Ha! Do you think Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang can also be diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) (laughs)?
Actually, yes. Rick Flag definitely has it. And Harley Quinn would be an interesting specimen for a psychiatric pathologist.
Well, yes - it looks like I really have main themes that I drag with me from film to film. The thing is that I am endlessly intrigued by human nature - especially its refraction in extreme situations. And these situations themselves can be as different as you like: even a sortie behind enemy lines in World War II, even a forced battle with the forces of darkness on the verge of the apocalypse. Well, as far as anti-heroism is concerned, as a viewer, I myself simply do not really believe in positive, impeccable characters. Therefore, as an author, I always try to dig out, define a wormhole in the heroes - or, if we are talking about recorded villains, as here, some spiritual ambivalence, a zone where the differences between good and evil are erased, and more complex things come to the fore - hidden fears, suppressed complexes, unresolved internal conflicts.
So! Now I seem to begin to understand why, before filming "Suicide Squad", you arranged these already famous sessions of group psychotherapy for the actors.
There was a case, yes. In general, I belong to the camp of directors who believe in the magical power of preliminary preparation for filming - rehearsals, readings, training. Before the filming of "Rage" began, the guys and I got together for a couple of weeks of almost real military training - and how it brought us all closer, it's hard to even convey. I needed group therapy this time for roughly the same purposes. When you work on a project of this magnitude - and with stars like Will Smith, who have every shooting day scheduled for years ahead, your hands are more or less tied: the shooting period is very fleeting, screen time too, only you brought the characters together, introduced them - and in 15-20 minutes they should already look like a single, well-coordinated team on the screen. This cannot be achieved without prior team building. And what is the best way to captivate with one idea a dozen strangers to each other, moreover, representing a difficult acting profession? You can, for example, unite them on the basis of a common hatred for someone. For example, to me - the one who, with a trick with therapy, found out their most intimate secrets and now provokes them right on the site.
Of course (laughs)! Just kidding, of course, but you understand - in every joke ... In general, I believe that even the most entertaining cinema should be based on psychological reliability. So all the tools that can help the artist get to the bottom of the true depth of the character are good. And in the case of "Suicide Squad" especially - after all, we were dealing not with simple heroes, but with complex, problematic creatures, each of which had to look on the screen, firstly, reliable in terms of villainy and sociopathy, and secondly, to gradually open up to the viewer on the other hand, to be recognizable in their vices and misadventures. And recognition already makes us feel empathy.
When dealing with such a multi-figured and variegated cast of characters, it is obvious that an incredible amount of attention must be paid to ensure that the story is coherent.
This is so - it is clear that you do not have the opportunity and so much time to tell in detail about each character everything that you would like to tell about him. But such restrictions help you at least to highlight the main thing - and not to complicate, not to overload the film with unnecessary details. As for the connectivity, we understood all the difficulties that such a movie poses for you, and therefore we tried to simplify the plot as much as possible - to make the film look like a reportage with a single, but in fact, suicidal mission for our heroes.
True, you have a character who is not seriously threatened by anything - and he pulls the strings cleaner than the Joker.
Are you talking about the heroine of Viola Davis?
Yeah. How important is the satire that she plays on the absurd politics of the special services for the film?
It seemed to us that this line would bring an additional and interesting semantic layer to the "Detachment". Fortunately, this is a comic book, so you can take any liberties - especially since in the comic book world, government officials rarely behave sanely. And is it only in the comic? Real special services, as far as I can judge, cannot always boast of the rationality of their programs.
Actually, you've probably studied all the superhero films of recent years. What do you think about the state of the genre?
Let me check the contract, now I’ll say different things, and then they pile on me (laughs). In fact, in my opinion, this is an interesting phenomenon, whatever one may say. There are films about superheroes that are more successful, sometimes there are less successful ones, but the genre does not stand still. Moreover, it seems to me that he has now moved to a turning point, after which the most interesting stages of development should begin. Cinema based on comics is already flirting with adult, mature issues, and with some kind of experimental stylistic notions, so a breakthrough is on the way.
You, too, probably wanted to reveal the genre from some original angle?
Of course! At the very least, I wanted to achieve, again, psychological certainty. My characters may be extravagant, unstable dregs of society, but their problems and concerns are somehow not so different from ours. Someone wants to be a good father, someone is looking for a meaning to live after having lost those closest to them, someone is ashamed of their appearance, and someone is simply dizzy, madly in love.
These lovers, the Joker and Harley Quinn are the real luck of the film.
Jared Leto and Margot Robbie really did their best. I had to push them down a little all the time - they got too out of their way, it even became uncomfortable. Still, it was dangerous to go too far into the territory of complete madness - I did not want to turn a comic action movie into a messenger of psychiatry.
The style of Suicide Squad seems more punk than it usually is in 200 million blockbusters. Who were you inspired by?
You will laugh. I tried to imagine the comic strip, as Tarkovsky would shoot it.
Yes Yes. I'm a big fan - and our cameraman, a Russian guy, Roman Vasyanov, just prays for his films. We even revised something before starting work on the "Detachment". Tarkovsky has incredibly sophisticated visual work - in which the very setting of the shot, the camera angle, often carry a tangible psychological charge. We aimed to achieve the same effect - as much as possible in a story where there is a crocodile man, a witch and the Joker.
What is it like to be a director in the era of trailers - when the best moments from your film have already been played in hundreds of promo videos to the world?
Well, it certainly doesn't make it easier for you. But I knew what I was going for, and I knew that the "Detachment" marketing campaign would be grandiose. So I always reminded myself that it is precisely the moments that get into the trailers, which means that we had to make sure that the spirit was breathtaking not just from the moments on the screen, but from the picture as a whole, its scope and its ideas. Well, and drive, of course, otherwise what kind of action it would be.