Generally speaking, it's important for the actors on a set to trust their director. When the actor feels that the director has their best interest at heart, it usually means the actor is willing to take risks. This is not the strategy that David Ayer uses. As it turns out, Ayer has a much more underhanded method of getting the performance he wants from his actors: he learns their darkest secrets and then drops them in the middle of shooting.
In a couple of weeks, the last big comic book movie of the summer will hit when Suicide Squad is released in theaters. Much has been made about some of the crazy stuff that went on behind the scenes on that film. Mostly, it's focused on Jared Leto living in character as The Joker for the duration of filming, and the absolutely bonkers gifts he sent to his cast mates. However, it appears Leto wasn't the only one doing things that upset the rest of the cast. According to a story in Entertainment Weekly, director David Ayer had a fairly twisted way to get what he wanted from his actors on set. Joel Kinnaman, who plays Rick Flag in the film, says the director would talk to his actors in order to learn about them, but rather than using this as a way to gain confidence from his stars, he'd use it as ammunition on the set.
The example given in the story is that in one sequence Viola Davis' Amanda Waller is talking to Rick Flag, and proceeds to call him some pretty vulgar names. Joel Kinnaman says that the names really did get under his skin, apparently because David Ayer told her exactly what to say to get the reaction from Kinnaman that the director was looking for. The actor called it "high-level direction through manipulation." That's a polite way to put it.
ally worked when Suicide Squad comes out next month.
While Joel Kinnaman calls it betrayal, he apparently doesn't really hold a grudge against David Ayer for his methods, as he also calls it praises the level of his direction. We can certainly see how this strategy could work; if actors are used to trusting directors they may tell him things that might otherwise go unsaid.
However, there is a potential problem here. It would seem that this sort of method would only work once. After you know what David Ayer is going to do with your information, you'll be less likely to give him more. So when they all get around to making Suicide Squad 2, something Warner Bros. is reportedly already interested in, how do you get the same performances?
What do you think of the "better acting through manipulation" school of film directing? Will see how well it re