Peacemaker Behind The Scenes Facts, Danielle Brooks Interview

Alas, a real eagle was not used for Eagly.

BuzzFeed / Courtesy of HBO Max

I don’t know about you, but I was originally a little hesitant when the Peacemaker HBO TV series was announced — which was based on John Cena’s role in The Suicide Squad. Well, I don’t know if it was the infectious opening credits or the sight of John Cena’s ass in the first scene, but I can safely say that any apprehensions I had were immediately shattered. So, I spoke with Danielle Brooks — who captivatingly plays newcomer Leota Adebayo — to find out more about how the series was made.



The part of Leota Adebayo was written with Danielle Brooks in mind, as James Gunn was a fan of Orange Is the New Black.

Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

“We had a Zoom meeting, and he told me how he was a big fan of Orange Is the New Black, which was really cool to hear. I told him that I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy and I was looking forward to the The Suicide Squad,” Danielle told BuzzFeed. “It really didn’t take much to have me say yes, I really think he’s one of the most brilliant writers that I’ve ever met.”


Two big things drew Danielle to the part: James Gunn as a creative, and the opportunity to act in an action role.


“James Gunn is James Gunn, he needs no introduction at this point. His body of work when it comes to action films have been spectacular. The opportunity alone to work with him is one that any actor would be kind of dumb to not take. Then, on top of that, I have not been able to dive in to action work before this,” Danielle explained. “I get to play with guns safely, I get to jump over fences, be harnessed up in the air, and flown across the room — do these fun fight combat moments. I enjoyed every bit of it.”


However, it was finding out that Adebayo was the daughter of Amanda Waller — played by Viola Davis — that really “sold” Danielle on the role.

Courtesy of HBO Max

“When [James Gunn] told me, I was like, ‘Yo, universe is amazing for this one!’ Because [Viola] is everything to me, one of my biggest inspirations. That was a no-brainer.”


Danielle sees Waller as an important figure for representation in the DCEU, as she has an afro.

Warner Bros / courtesy Everett Collection

“I really loved her character and admire the representation that she brought to Amanda Waller with her ‘fro. That’s dope because you don’t really see someone with a ‘fro in any of these DC or Marvel [movies]. I think we have a standard of beauty that we’ve accepted for so long and she was bringing something new.”


However, the two actors didn’t actually get to interact because of conflicting schedules and COVID restrictions — although they have met in the past.

Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros / courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

“We both send each other our love. I met Viola a few times at different award shows — and we’re both Juilliard girls from South Carolina, so we have a lot in common. The only regret is that I did not get to have any in-person scenes with her, because I would love to go toe-to-toe with her. That would be one for the books.”


Danielle’s first day on set involved kissing her onscreen wife, played by Elizabeth Faith Ludlow.


“We’d just met each other, and that was awkward and weird — but she was super professional, and so was I. We just jumped right into it. That was a big challenge, but we became really good friends over the course of working together.”


Improvisation was a huge part of the shooting process, and Danielle got “hazed a bit” as a newcomer to the franchise by having to improv dialogue on her second day of shooting.

this scene was my first day working with @thedanieb and she did not disappoint. Here’s two minutes of her laughing through a million takes. At the end even @JamesGunn can’t get a sentence out without laughing.

Twitter: @steveagee

“We have a scene where we meet all of the crew, and James just had me improv this whole speech — which he ends up using,” Danielle described. “[Steve Agee] kept recording me, it was making me laugh and throwing me off. James Gunn couldn’t stop laughing as he’s throwing new sentences at me to repeat. John is trying not to break character and it was just so funny. They made me do this for probably 20 minutes straight.”


In fact, Danielle said John Cena’s improvisation skills are one of his many talents as an actor — especially in a scene later in the series where Peacemaker has to rattle off lists of celebrities.

Courtesy of HBO Max

“That was one of my favorite days because I really gained a bigger respect for John Cena as an actor, man. Because that stuff, to me, you can’t train that — you’ve just got a great skill that you’ve been gifted. James kept saying, ‘Okay, do it again.’ And he would quickly rattle off like 30 celebrities and different people, from cartoons to people in The Godfather, to Steve Harvey — like it was crazy!”


Unfortunately, Danielle missed the final day on set because she was exposed to COVID (but didn’t test positive).

Courtesy of HBO Max

“I had written all these closing day cards and had all these wrapped gifts, and I wasn’t able to celebrate the end with everybody.”


To achieve the special effects for Eagly, a green-screen bird in the shape of an eagle and an eagle dummy were used on set.


“That’s the stuff about the action world that I really appreciate, is that you do get to use your imagination and creativity in that way that you don’t get with some other, more realistic genres.”


Danielle originally felt “a little hesitant” about shooting the dance in the opening credits. She was shown clips of John Cena doing the dance during his breaks for reference.

Courtesy of HBO Max

“I was like, ‘What in the world are we doing?'”


She also had to learn a ton of black ops lingo used in the universe, and she would show up early to set to learn — mirroring how Adebayo is also a newcomer.


“I would go over the script a few times, and reread it — but a lot of times, I just would listen. I would take in everything and try to watch playback, or come on set early to see what was going on and to feel these places that I had yet to understand,” she explained. “John Cena has done this a million times, and he’s very comfortable. I loved the parallel of myself and Adebayo both trying to figure it out at the same time.”


Another skill that Danielle had to learn involved how to jump from “explosions,” which actually meant falling on a blue-screen mat — there was one take where her gun was accidentally in front of her face.


“We had guns in our hands, and we had to jump onto this blue mat. With the level of familiarity John Cena has with this type of work, he nails it in the first take. [With] me, it’s three or four takes. [For example], the gun’s covering my face when I fall to the ground. It’s so much fun. Watching it back, I have it on my phone, it was just so exciting. I was like, damn, we look like badasses! This is so cool!'”


Apparently, the sound of guns was actually incredibly loud in real life and “tough on my ears.”


Danielle hopes people notice the outfits that Adebayo and Keeya’s dogs wear.


“All of Adebayo’s dogs are put in these cute outfits!”


There is an IRL Peacemaker group chat.

Courtesy of HBO Max

“You better believe, we definitely do [have one].”


Finally, Danielle doesn’t know about her future in the DCEU, but she hopes it’s “long lasting.”

Courtesy of HBO Max

“I had a blast and I really don’t want it to end sooner than later. I hope that Adebayo has a long history with these DC TV shows — and hopefully movies.”

Thanks for talking to us, Danielle! The first three episodes of Peacemaker are now available to stream on HBO Max.

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