Joel Kinnaman, who plays Rick Flag yet again in The Suicide Squad, opened up about what it was like working on 2016's Suicide Squad and James Gunn's version. In a recent interview, Kinnaman also shared his experience watching the premiere with his fiancee of The Suicide Squad.
Kinnaman, who had his breakthrough role with AMC's crime drama series The Killing, has appeared in many smaller roles like David Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Run All Night (starring along with Liam Neeson), and 2018's Altered Carbon series. After the box office failures and disappointing reviews from critics for the 2014 reboot RoboCop and David Ayer's Suicide Squad, Kinnaman became doubtful and claimed that he had a whole career without a real smash hit.
But that would all soon change when James Gunn hopped on board to direct The Suicide Squad back in 2019. Believing Gunn's fresh take and unique storytelling would be the one to revamp his career and propel him to become the next big star, Kinnaman became hopeful and even felt that The Suicide Squad would be "the one" upon viewing the film at the premiere. While speaking with Uproxx, Kinnaman reflected back on working on Ayer's Suicide Squad film and how playing Rick Flag the first time around didn't quite feel as natural. Although he tried to deliver his best portrayal of the character, the jumbled story and lousy direction prohibited that from happening. "The first version of the character, I never really got loose in it, to be honest. And I was a bit of a plot donkey," he shares. Ayer has been involved in some great projects (writing Training Day, directing Fury), but when working on a big studio film like Suicide Squad, sometimes the director can't always get his main vision across, which can lead to many conflicts with the studio and a messy final film (Justice League vs. the Snyder Cut being one example).
Even if the final result of Suicide Squad wasn't as planned, Kinnaman still took away many valuable memories during its production. "There were parts of that process that were super memorable and there were parts of that process that really were instrumental in some of us bonding so deeply during the experience of the first one," he said. Once the sequel/reboot/standalone was announced under Gunn's direction, there was still a bit of uncertainty in the air regarding whether or not Kinnaman's character would be a part of the new film or if his schedule would conflict with the new filming dates (due to working on a new season for Apple TV Plus' For All Mankind).
Once Gunn and the whole team were able to make the necessary rewrites and schedule adjustments, Kinnaman was more than ecstatic to be a part of what the director had in store, especially knowing Gunn would mostly have total control of his original idea. "When I got sent the first script, I was like, holy shit. First of all, I was laughing on every page. And the film is very, very close to that first version of the script that was sent out to everyone," Kinnaman recalls. When asked about the rarity of that situation, where a director has almost complete control of what he wants to do, Kinnaman adds, "It doesn’t happen. It does not happen. These are the biggest set builds they’ve ever done… there was such a clarity of vision on this film and everyone knew exactly what they were doing. Everyone knew exactly what film they were making and it just makes it for such an easy experience."
It seems apparent by the early positive reviews for The Suicide Squad that Kinnaman's Rick Flag and the rest of the cast/characters were able to let loose and have fun diving into these roles under fresh direction. Perhaps Kinnaman will finally have the hit film he's always wanted.
The Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max.