Oscar-winner Jared Leto and Margot Robbie play the world’s ultimate dysfunctional couple The Joker and Harley Quinn in Warner Bros. Pictures’ wickedly fun action-adventure “Suicide Squad.”
While most complicated people try to keep their weaknesses a secret, former psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Robbie) wears hers on her sleeve. She openly expresses her love for the Joker, a man she was once assigned to psychoanalyze at the notorious Arkham Asylum prison, but for whom she now brands herself with tattoos that bear his name and symbols. Her transformation into Harley Quinn—Joker’s lover and the target of his twisted affections—was the result of the tables turned by a master manipulator.
But Harley has been separated from her true love by the thick walls of Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary, which is designed to hold the “worst of the worst.”
Harley’s love for her boyfriend initially troubled Margot Robbie, who was tasked with bringing the harlequin to life. “Why does she love this guy?” the actress asks. “It was one of the things I really struggled to crack with this character. She’s so strong and smart and such a badass, she’s just awesome, but then she falls to pieces over this guy all the time. It’s something I didn’t like about her because I didn’t understand it at first. So, because she’s a psychiatrist, I decided to do research into the concept of codependence. I was taken by the idea that people could really live their life for one person. And it turns out it’s not really about the person, it’s a compulsion like alcohol or drug addiction. Once I thought of her relationship with Joker in those terms, as an addiction, I had a world of empathy for her.”
Ayer found himself fascinated by Harley’s psyche as well. “She’s a bit of a female Joker,” he says, “she has this amazingly chaotic personality; she’s mad, she’s uncensored, does what she wants. She’s only been around in the comics since the 1990s, but has leapt off the page ever since she appeared, and Margot worked hard to take her even further, from the page to the screen, with all the spontaneity and humor and power fans love about the character.”
But what of the Joker in return? Does he truly love Harley? Jared Leto doesn’t let on any more than his character would. “The Joker has a very strong attachment to Harley,” says Leto. “No one else really matters very much, but why would they when you’ve got her? What’s the rest of the world? It’s just a game. We’re sharing a wicked dream and having a good laugh.” But once she’s taken away, will he bother to try and find her?
Leto courageously took on the role of the lunatic who so easily takes to the asylum. “The Joker is iconic, a legend,” he declares. “He’s been around for 75 years, and there are so many variations of his story. The Joker is Mount Everest: one of those impossible ideas where you most likely can’t achieve what you set out to do. It was terrifying and exciting and a total honor to take on that role.”
It was a challenge for director-writer David Ayer in scripting the character as well. “The Joker is a fascinating, complex guy, but it was terrifying to work with that character because he’s one of the best-known villains in Western fiction. He has this incredible history, and the trick was to be respectful of the legacy of the Joker and the canon and everything that has come before. To understand the core of that character and not tamper with that, yet at the same time reinvent the Joker for this film.”
Leto also admits the notion was daunting at first. “I remember when I got the call, I had this simultaneous feeling of excitement and dread. As soon as I heard the word Joker I knew that I was going to have to dive really deep and go to a place I had never gone before. He’s been interpreted so beautifully, they should almost put a cap on the well and just call it. But then there was the other side: what else could I uncover? What could I do that hadn’t been done? The side of me that likes exploration, adventure, to push the envelope, was set on fire immediately. And it changed me forever. It was such an immersive, challenging, unique experience going into that rabbit hole. I never thought in a million years I would have the chance to play a role like this.”
Robbie, whose scenes with the Joker were her most intimate, found her co-star’s interpretation both energizing and unnerving. “Jared and I didn’t really do any rehearsals,” she relates, “so when we got in front of the camera those scenes were just electric because those characters are so unpredictable.”
Now showing across the Philippines in 3D, and in 2D, and in IMAX 3D theaters, “Suicide Squad” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.