Jake Gyllenhaal Backs Off From 'Suicide Squad,' Is Warner Bros. Villain Flick On The Ropes Already?

Warner Bros. is counting on Suicide Squad to be the jumping off point for the second half of its DC Cinematic Universe – the half with all the villains – but things aren't going well for the Suicide Squad flick. Word has it that yet another actor, Jake Gyllenhaal, has backed away from the production, leaving the Squad without its leading man.

Gyllenhaal was never officially signed onto Suicide Squad, but his name became attached to the project in the wake of leading man Tom Hardy's departure from the project. Hardy was supposed to play Squad leader Rick Flagg, but he dropped out, citing scheduling conflicts.

The team behind the film was hoping that Gyllenhaal would be able to take on the male lead, but Variety is now reporting that Gyllenhaal has backed away. The publication hasn't given any reason for Gyllenhaal's declining the project, but having two leading men decline the role is sure to give future prospects pause.

Rumor has it that Hardy declined the Suicide Squad lead because "he simply didn't like the script he was finally given." A report in Latino-Review says that Hardy had originally signed onto the project sight unseen, but that "he didn't like the drastic change to [Rick Flagg]."

Reportedly, Flagg's role in the film in the latest draft has been reduced in order to up the screen time for Deadshot, played by Will Smith, and the Joker, played by Jared Leto. The film may also have a solid focus on the relationship between Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and Leto's Joker. It may be that two big-time and growing stars like Hardy and Gyllenhaal weren't interested in sacrificing so much screen time to other stars.

So what's next for the Squad with its first two choices having dropped out? There's no way of telling just yet, as Variety doesn't point to any actors waiting in the wings to take over the Rick Flagg role. Suicide Squad is scheduled to go into production in April, though, so there is still time to find another actor to fill the role.

In theory, Suicide Squad shouldn't be that hard a sell. The film will focus on six villainous DC characters brought together by the government in order to accomplish a task too dangerous and underhanded for upstanding individuals. Warner Bros. initially positioned Suicide Squad as "The Dirty Dozen with supervillains," and the studio has largely stuck to that. Recent word out of the production, though, indicates that the studio wants Suicide Squad to have a good deal of action, bringing it more toward a mix of the intrigue of a heist film and the time-sensitive action of a film like Speed.