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Suicide Squad: Why Will Smith signed on to play Deadshot

For the Oscar nominee, joining the ensemble cast was a calculated move

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Clay Enos

There is little Will Smith hasn’t done. He’s a two-time Oscar nominee, a major movie star who can still command top dollar to star in a film. He’s also a Grammy-winning recording artist and an accomplished music and film producer. So some might be scratching their heads over why Smith would sign on to play Deadshot, one of the leaders of the Suicide Squad but still a member of a large ensemble.

Smith’s reason for joining the the upcoming DC Comics film, out Aug. 5, was two-fold: he wanted to work with filmmaker David Ayer (Fury) and he wanted to do something he’s never done before. 

“I had never played a character that legitimately didn’t give a f—,” says Smith of the nihilist assassin he portrays in the movie. “It’s very freeing not having to carry the moral spine of the movie.”

With the encouragement of Ayer, who he worked with closely on the character, Smith went deep inside the mind of an assassin.

“I couldn’t find a model to understand what would make someone comfortable killing another person for money,” says Smith. “David walked me through that. He found a book for me (The Anatomy of Motive by John Douglas), and I worked through getting into the mind of serial killers. Once I accepted the [notion the author puts forth] that it feels good, that really exploded the idea in my mind of Deadshot.” 

RELATED: See EW’s Exclusive New Suicide Squad Photos and Covers

Yet, there is more to perfect shooter than his sociopathic tendencies. He’s also a devoted father trying to do right by his daughter. That conflict proved equally intriguing to Smith.

“His Achilles heel is his daughter,” he says. “He loves this little girl and that creates this bizarre conflicting mindset where he enjoys killing people but that’s something this little girl doesn’t want from him. She wants a daddy.”

Ayer, who put Smith through the same intense boot camp/group therapy protocol he relies on for every movie he shoots, believes that the actor found something through his prep that he hadn’t shown on camera before. 

“I’m so proud of what he did in this,” says Ayer. “I think that’s going to be one of the surprises [of the movie.] It feels like he found something new. He found a different gear in this.”

The pair had such a good time making Suicide Squad that they will reunite in October to shoot Bright, a fantasy film by screenwriter Max Landis that costars Noomi Rapace and Joel Edgerton.

Smith can’t wait. “He’s one of the best actor’s directors I’ve ever worked with,” he says.

 

For more on Suicide Squad, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, featuring four special covers of the cast, on newsstands Friday, or available at www.ew.com/suicidesquad — and subscribe now for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.