‘Suicide Squad’ Director Says Joker And Harley Quinn Ink Tells ‘A Very Specific Story’

The Suicide Squad live action adaptation has given director David Ayer an opportunity to tell his own interpretation of some of the most beloved villains in the DC Comics universe and among them, are, of course, the Joker and Harley Quinn. Early teasers gave just a glimpse of David’s vision, revealing a Joker and a Harley Quinn marked by intricately designed ink, but the Suicide Squad director now reveals that the body modifications serve a greater purpose than to simply turn Jared Leto and Margot Robbie into living works of art.

Suicide Squad‘s David Ayer Says There’s A Method To His Madness

While the tattoos seen on Leto and Robbie in the teasers for Suicide Squad certainly add to their characters, giving them an even greater aura of mystique and charisma, director David Ayer has recently revealed that the colorful ink serves a greater purpose. He suggests that hardcore fans may already have begun to decode the meanings behind the tattoos on both the Joker and on Harley Quinn, but also suggests casual Suicide Squad fans will soon discover the not so hidden “Easter eggs” for themselves.

“The tattoos tell a very specific story,” Ayer says. “And eventually people will decipher them and understand what’s going on, but obviously, they’re contentious, anytime you do something new it’s contentious. There’s very specific stories and Easter eggs in those tattoos. And even his teeth, there’s an entire story behind that which is absolutely canon. It’s putting his history on his body. This Joker is a little more working class, who I believe could live in our world.”

Ayer says his inspiration for the Joker’s unique look in Suicide Squad came from browsing through the posts from “drug lords on Instagram” and he says that helped him develop a definitive lifestyle for his Suicide Squad villain. Jared Leto’s Joker isn’t the only Suicide Squad villain marked by prison tattoos, however. Ayer says Harley Quinn, played by Robbie, created her own tattoos, while still in prison, though he adds that, in Harley’s case, traditional ink wasn’t used to mark up the character’s tattoos.

“They’re stick and poke tattoos, prison-style tattoos, that you do when you don’t have a tattoo gun,” reveals the Suicide Squad director. “She did them herself out of boredom and desperation… There’s I Heart Puddin’, a Joker face, a love heart… that’s obviously reflective of her time in prison.”

The Mischievous Villainy Of Suicide Squad Was Infectious Behind The Scenes

The devious behavior of the characters seen in Suicide Squad easily spilled out into the real world, David Ayer reveals. The Suicide Squad director confesses that even he got into the antics carried on by the actors, on and off camera. Ayer reveals that even the rehearsals were much more intense than normal rehearsals, describing the sessions as though there were therapy sessions instead of movie rehearsals. The Suicide Squad director says he forced the actors to open up to one another, to talk about their lives and to get deeply personal, but Ayer adds that they possibly opened up even more, when he compelled the actors to fight one another.

“I had them fight each other. You learn a lot about who a person really is when you punch them in the face. It gets rid of a lot of the actor stuff.”

A part of Ayer’s method for drawing out his actors was to compel them to tell deeply personal secrets to each other and, while a one on one confrontation might have made it easy for the actors to dodge intrusive questions, these sessions were done in front of the entire cast. Early on, Ayer told his cast that he hoped the experience would build trust between the Suicide Squad actors.

“He asked questions in front of everyone that were hard to dodge…. ‘What are you most afraid of? What is the most embarrassed you’ve ever been? What’s the meanest thing you’ve ever done to someone?’ Those kinds of questions,” says Joel Kinnaman, who plays Rick Flag in Suicide Squad. “So it becomes very honest; it strips the facade, and you get to know each other for real.”

By now, everyone knows Jared Leto took his Suicide Squad role very seriously, staying character as the Joker even when the cameras weren’t rolling, but costume designer Rene Fontana now reveals that Leto’s antics didn’t stop with the cast. Jared tormented the entire costume department as the Joker throughout filming, as well.

“Sometimes he tried to terrify us, but we’re strong women,” said Fontana. “He was growling at us, and we’d play back.”

Suicide Squad debuts in theaters on August 5.

[Image by Warner Bros.]