The Suicide Squad: John Cena and the Secrets of Peacemaker

I think that’s why you see me all over the map from family movies that Playing With Fire to R-rated comedies like Trainwreck to PG-13’s like Daddy’s Home, to a DC movie like The Suicide Squad, to a straight-up blockbuster action like F9. I have an R-rated comedy coming out on Hulu called Vacation Friends, to a straight-up action two-hander with Jackie Chan called Project X that was filmed in China. Everyone always asks, “Well, what’s the next movie you’re looking for?” And my answer is always the same. I say, “I’ll know it when I read it.” I just like to read stuff and see myself in the story. Because that’s the one thing that’s really helped me with WWE, me being able to absorb the story with whoever I stand across the ring from.

Based on what we’ve seen in the trailers, it almost seems like Peacemaker could be a warped version of your character in WWE. Did you draw any inspiration specifically from the “John Cena,” boy scout-esque character?

I remember meeting with James and asking if I should dive into the comics history of Peacemaker, and he specifically told me not to. I think that’s because James likes to navigate his story. He just was like, “you have what I’m looking for. Just be yourself, and if you’re willing to take direction, I think we can do something special.” 

I originally had approached this character as much more of an angular, drill sergeant, Full Metal Jacket-esque personality, and about 20 minutes into filming our first scene, James came over to me and was like, “This is not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for a douchey, bro-y Captain America.” We do draw from the do-gooder side of John Cena, who has a strong set of values and doesn’t waver from those values. So the answer is yes, but not in my eyes. Whenever I play a role in a movie, it really is never myself. Whereas WWE is the odd thing that a lot of times you have to create an extension of yourself because the narrative is just so damn long. 

The Suicide Squad are a bunch of super-villains and every villain has to believe what they’re doing is right and just, and it’s just their warped perspective of society that makes them evil. I think that’s a great way to describe Peacemaker. He thinks what he is doing is right and just. He just has a really abstract perspective.

What’s it been like to work with James Gunn and develop this character together? 

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