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‘The Suicide Squad’ Actor Flula Borg on Playing a Supervillain Sex God for James Gunn [Interview]


Flula Borg walks into The Suicide Squad with swagger. With his blonde locks, the twirl of the javelin, and an air of pure confidence, Borg makes quite the entrance as a supervillain. Javelin is a comic book character, as Borg points out, we should know absolutely nothing about. There’s not much to know about him, except he was an Olympic athlete and died a few times in the pages of DC superhero stories.


The comedian makes the most of his screen time in James Gunn‘s film. It’s a surprisingly pivotal role, as are most of the roles in The Suicide Squad. Recently, Borg told us about portraying the “sex god,” the film’s gory beach sequence, and how he prepared to play an intentionally silly d-list villain.



You listened to the band Javelin to prepare for Javelin. Is that accurate?


I did. And by the way, have you heard this band?


No, I have not.


Wonderful. As a temp score, I was editing something and used some of their music. This is before I was cast as Javelin. And then I looked, I said, “Wait, that is the band Javelin, who I love, and now I’m playing Javelin.” It’s very exciting. I think using this knowledge, it means that my next character will be named Soundgarden.


[Laughs] Well, that’d be a lot of good music to research.


Are you kidding me, man? Yes. “Kickstand,” yes. “Black Hole Sun,” “Spoonman,” let’s do this.


Off-topic, but I love it when you and Conan O’Brien are . What is it that makes you two work so well together? 


I think I am an agent of chaoticness. Chaoticity? Chaotinisicity? And Conan is highly intelligent and needs to decode stupidity. And so I think he has all of the decoder rings, I’m barely . So when I show up and bring him to chaos, I think he enjoys to try to translate how insanely dumb I am, and we really love to do this. I just throw him the stupid and he translates it.


Do you get a lot of room to play as Javelin or do you stick very closely to what’s on the page? 


He allowed us to play. The final film, there’s not a ton of improvised stuff, but the improv, which we did a fair amount of, I think it’s nice. It’s like a warmup drink. You need something before you go in to actually have the party. And so the improv helps you get loose and ready and excited. Or like the banana before a tennis match. Eat that banana, now you’re going to hit nice smashes. So the improv to me served as the potassium-filled warm up to a very nice scene.


I don’t know too much about Javelin’s history in comics.


You shouldn’t know. It’s totally vague.


But how much of a deep dive did you do into his past?


Well, a very shallow dive. But also, shallow was as deep as it goes. I’m a very organized dingbat, and so I purchased every Javelin appearance, and I found out as much as you already knew just by Googling for him on the Internet. It’s vague. I think he’s died five times because they forgot he died.”Hey, guys bring Javelin back!” Oh, he died and nobody cares. Bring him back. So wonderfully obscure, which was great because then I could just do whatever.


What kind of a villain is he? What exactly does he do?


I love that you’re genuinely frustrated just asking, “What does he do? Why is he here?”


[Laughs] Genuinely interested, not frustrated.


Oh no. I love that I projected your tone as, “What is his deal?” Well, he’s very German. l I tell you this: James wrote him in a way that was very easy for me to embody. Javelin in the film is a sex god. And he is just the sassiest man to walk on two, four, or five legs in the history of all planets, with the exception of the triceratops, as we all know, just a nymphomaniac amongst the dinosaurs.


[Laughs] What was it like when you first got the costume on?


It’s done. And I had a nice long blonde hair, which was just delicious. I felt like Claudia Schiffer or something except a man, and I hold a javelin and I was one time in the Olympics. Who knows, did I win medals? No, I probably killed someone and stole theirs.


The beach scene is something else. What stands out to you about shooting that scene? 


The dopeness is they built an entire beach with a wave machine, with a jungle, with hundreds of, I don’t want to give away plots, but hundreds of people in the forest. The explosion is all real. There’s no green screen, fake stuff. All of these things are real and loud, and wonderfully terrifying.


I will tell you the water was warm, so I did like this. Yeah, that was very nice. Dude, it was great. Just fun chaos, absolute. And we did run-throughs, as I imagine an American football team does rehearsals and things. And so, we would do things in our normal outfits – outfits? – in our normal clothes, and then at night we would just go crazy in these weird uniforms and costumes and just have the dopest time.


Nobody peed in the wade pool, I want you to know that. Nobody.


[Laughs] Thank you for clarifying. That must’ve been the biggest scene you’ve done to date, right? 


Absolutely. And not only me, but people, almost the cast as a whole, this was the largest in terms of scale film they’ve ever done, and I think, if I’m correct, DC’s biggest scale film that they’ve ever done.


I’ve been in some other projects: Pitch Perfect 2, and a few other things, but you can’t compare it to this. They built these sets. They built a beach, they built a jungle, they built giant pools to jump into. It was like a water park. It’s like Six Flags, but like 12 Flags and the flags are like eight meters tall, and that is amazing.


[This next exchange features spoilers]


What do you make of the last we hear from Javelin? 


Man, it’s wonderful. I love that you get to see some explorations of his brain. I think when you first meet him, you know what he wants. He’s been very clear about the things he enjoys and those things involve his pelvis, let’s be honest. But then you find out some other organs he has, like his heart, Jack. You know, he’s got other organs.


[Laughs] What do you think his last words were going to be? 


I went two directions. One: something inappropriately sexual, and two: something that makes absolutely no sense. Something so stupidly vague, but in the very end moment, or at the appropriate moment, it would click. Not until then, yeah.


[Spoilers over]


What do you think of James, specifically, as a comedy writer? What do you appreciate about his jokes? 


Man, he just gets it. He knows when to be flippant and the timing. He understands, he doesn’t take things too seriously, but he takes the correct things very seriously, and I think that is very wonderful. He doesn’t push so hard. You can tell when something feels like, “Why did that guy say this? That makes no sense.”


Frequently, you will see a show like, “That character, why would they say that, that doesn’t make any sense,” but he creates these characters, so he knows who they are, and then he knows how to find humor in their strangeness and dopeness and make it all work in inside of a film. And he’s got range. He can do all of those things. This is why he’s perfect. This is why this film is great, I think.


He also got to do all of the things. It’s like when Elton John sings but then he gets behind the drums and he’s banging out some dope stuff there as well, and he gets on the guitar. That’s James with this film. He got to play all of his instruments, I feel like.


Wait. Elton John plays guitar and drums?


Phil Collins, Phil Collins! Sorry. He’s very good at them, yes. Thanks for fact-checking me in the moment, I needed that.


[Laughs] What’s your personal taste when it comes to comedy? What else do you appreciate? 


I love the stuff that is very subtle and that other people might miss. Maybe sometimes I miss it, but I love just very random, tiny things. And also, I love it when you can tell it’s real. Already I messed up Elton John and Phil Collins, but I think his name is Charles Grodin?


Yeah, one of the best.


Dude! Like on Midnight Run, just watching him react to Robert. It’s just the reactions. And it’s real. You can tell this guy feels this way, this is the reaction, this is a scenario that gets it. So that’s the best. When you can tell it’s just real. I often play the insane person, of course, but the real humor lies in the reactions of the normal humans, looking at the insane person. I love when you see that. To me, those are the most important parts of any comedy. They’re the punchline. It’s the audience. If you don’t have that person, you’re just watching a weird man barefoot on the streets singing a weird lullaby. I need the man observing this and telling me it’s insane.


What are the challenges of playing the insane character? What do you have to be mindful about? 


Big is okay if you’re grounded within who you are. I can always feel when you get away from it, then everyone loses sight. But if you are true to that person, it’s great. Go wherever you want just stay and stay in those lines. Those lines can be wide and insane. I mean, Harley Quinn is an example of that. Crazy, goes all over the place in ways, but it all works because you can tell this is integrated into who this person is. I can feel when I’m gone, you’ve lost it. Like, what is he doing? Way off the rails. So it’s good to go back. That doesn’t mean stuff doesn’t make it into a film or a project for many other reasons, but still. Stay within the person, you can go crazy as you like.


What’s made you laugh the hardest recently? 


Oh, man. I usually laugh at really dark stuff. I mean it’s not a comedy, but it is Mare of Easttown.


That has some very funny scenes. 


Right? Dude, Jean Smart, gets hit by a door at one point and just gets knocked down and falls. She’s one of the best actors I’ve ever seen. But you’re right. I like it because it’s not written as a comedy, and that’s when things are so unexpected. That’s really the best. So I’ve laughed very hard in some of the scenes in that show for sure.


Yeah, people just being people, and how hilarious that can be.


That’s it, that’s my favorite.


Do you have any other pet peeves when it comes to comedy? What else don’t you connect with? 


Well, I like to be surprised. And so, it’s not a pet peeve – ah, it kind of is. I just think if you’re going to do something we’ve seen 10 times, tell me you know I’ve seen it 10 times, and at least acknowledge to me that I’m not an idiot, pretending I’ve never seen someone get kicked in the testicles. So acknowledging it in some way. And the acknowledgment can be doing it in a unique way, whatever this is. I think I just like it when you respect the audience’s intelligence. And you can be stupid, as stupid as you like, but… I don’t know if that makes sense.


It does. “Clever stupid,” that’s how I put it. 


Yeah, man. That’s the best. And Conan as an example, I feel like is just the dopest embodiment of this.


I already miss him. 


Dude, he’s not gone.


[Laughs] I know he has the HBO Max show, but it was always great knowing he was on every night. 


I totally agree. And knowing him, I hope we will continue to see as much of him, maybe in different venues. The podcast, live performance, the show. I mean, dude, that guy goes. He just goes.


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