SPOILER WARNING: This story covers major plot points in the first two episodes of “Peacemaker,” currently airing on HBO Max.
When Danielle Brooks first signed on for the new HBO Max series, “Peacemaker,” she was excited to embark on a DC Comics adaptation, a genre that, to date, hasn’t made much headway. room for women who look like him. She loved that the series’ executive producer, writer and director, James Gunn – who created the series as a spin-off from his 2021 feature ‘The Suicide Squad’ – wrote Brooks’ role, Leota Adebayo. , specifically thinking of her. And she relished the opportunity to do the same kind of physical stunts as series lead John Cena.
But then Gunn told him and the rest of the cast about his plan for the opening credits.
“He just told us we’re dancing,” says Brooks Variety. “He didn’t even really ask us. He was just like, ‘So yeah, we’re gonna do this dance. No one has ever done this before. I was like, okay?
The opening credits of “Peacemaker” are, indeed, unlike anything you’ve seen on TV, especially for a superhero series. The entire cast – including Cena, Brooks, Freddie Stroma, Jennifer Holland, Steve Agee, Chukwudi Iwuji and Robert Patrick, plus recurring cast members like Elizabeth Ludlow, who plays Adebayo’s wife, and a final pose by l Peacemaker’s company eagle, Eagly – participate in an elaborately choreographed dance number for Wig Wam’s 2009 “Do Ya Wanna Taste It” jam. Any attempt to describe the credits any further would be woefully insufficient, so it’s probably best to watch it yourself:
Suffice to say, Brooks found the effort daunting, especially when she saw Holland and Cena practice some of the moves before she had learned any.
“I’m like, ‘What did they make us do? I don’t know if I want to do this! ” she says. “I just had to lean into it. Once we got the choreographer in and I saw the real moves, I was like, ‘Okay, I can do this.’
Brooks estimates that the cast had two or three weeks to prepare for filming the credits, and she appreciated that the choreographer, Charissa Barton, calibrated the steps according to each person’s abilities. But there were still a few hiccups.
“When we first did the dance, the choreographer kept saying, ‘Be expressive!’ When James finally saw me doing the moves, he kept saying, ‘Danielle, relax your face, relax your face!’ And I was so confused, because he was telling me not to show any emotion and she was telling me to show emotion. And once something gets stuck in your head in a certain way, it’s your muscle memory. So I kept trying to relax my face, but I couldn’t relax it completely, because I had been practicing it that way for so long. She sighs: “But anyway, it was a good time!”
There was one scene in “Peacemaker” that Brooks was sorry to miss: Adebayo’s FaceTime conversation with his mother, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis).
Ahead of the series premiere, Davis’ involvement in “Peacemaker” and Waller’s relationship with Adebayo came as a surprise. Although Waller — an amoral prison guard who created the Suicide Squad as a way to repurpose captured super-villains for high-risk missions — is effectively the antagonist in Gunn’s film, Brooks points to Davis’ performance in the movie. The character’s origin in 2016’s “Suicide Squad” was one of the very first times she saw someone like her in a superhero movie. It also helped that Davis and Brooks were Juilliard graduates who grew up in South Carolina.
“She means so much to me, because she’s really my representation in so many ways,” Brooks said. “I just see someone who is from the same state as me, a little city girl, you know, struggling and getting to Juilliard and working her way through. You know, it’s the same thing I try and do. So when James told me you were going to be Amanda Waller’s daughter, I was like, ‘I! Please tell me she’s coming to Canada! »
Alas, Davis filmed his part of the FaceTime conversation months after Brooks, while the show was in post-production — and Brooks even had to miss that shoot.
“I’m so sad, because when she did her cover, I was supposed to FaceTime her,” she says. “But it’s Viola Davis, and she’s a very busy woman. So she didn’t answer the call for an hour [after the scheduled time]. And then I had things to do. So I was like, ‘I’m sorry! I can not wait ! I have to go!’ So I missed her. But she sent me a beautiful message. And I sent one back to him saying I really wish I could be there for my colleague Juilliard [alum], fellow South Carolina.
Brooks notes that viewers should expect to see more of Waller on “Peacemaker,” since she sent Adebayo on a secret mission in hopes her daughter would follow in her footsteps. This complicated relationship mirrors the one Peacemaker has with his father (played by Robert Patrick), an unrepentant racist who was revealed at the end of Episode 2 to be the White Dragon, a white supremacist supervillain.
“Peacemaker and Adebayo are on the same journey together – they are so different, but yet this is what connects them. They understand each other because they are going through the same things,” she says. “Both their parents are not the best people in the world. It’s so hard to get that voice out of your head, when that’s how you were raised. So they both have to deal with that.