Suicide Squad may not be especially funny, but it’s hard not to smile when Ike Barinholtz appears in it. The gap-toothed comedic operator plays a sadistic and corrupt prison guard, one who takes special pride in psychologically and physically torturing Will Smith’s Deadshot. He does, of course, receive some narrative comeuppance when Jared Leto’s Joker ties him up and blackmails him into a sinister plan. Vulture caught up with Barinholtz at the Suicide Squad premiere to talk about making the movie, which for him was a process more mentally and bodily taxing than, say, working on The Mindy Project.
You don’t really do any stunts and you don’t have any shirtless scenes, but what was your workout routine like?
It was pretty amazing. They have these great trainers, a lot of guys from Gym Jones, which is this big training company. They pick you up in the morning and drive you to this giant gym that, like, Will Smith built and you do things that Jewish comedy writers like me don’t do a whole lot. Like, “Flip over a big tire and then hit it with a hammer!” But I went from being almost ripped to a-little-closer-to-being-ripped-but-still-not-ripped. Not like these guys, these freaks of nature, your Jai Courtneys and your Joel Kinnamans.
Did Jared Leto terrorize you on set, as he seems to have done with everyone else?
Yeah, I had a big scene with him where he really sexually menaced me. He’s a really great actor, so you look in those big eyes of his and they’re dartin’ around and you’re like, “Oh, this is the Joker right now. This is the Joker.” I liked it. The headline of the article: Barinholtz Enjoyed Being Sexually Menaced by Leto. That’s my pitch.
Consider it done. You're a comedy guy — back when the reshoots were announced, there was talk that they were to make the movie funnier. Was the director David Ayer going for humor?
Not a lot. Early on, Ayer was like, “Listen: I want funny moments to happen organically, but this isn’t a sitcom.” But in the early rehearsal process, when you have a wiseass like me; and Will Smith, who’s one of the funniest guys around; and Jai Courtney’s great; Margot’s great; it just kind of organically happened. So with those moments that are really funny, I think they just kinda found, “Oh right, in a movie like this, you need light. You need light.” So we got there.
And what’s it like to verbally abuse Will Smith?
Verbally and physically abuse him! It’s terrifying, because he’s the greatest guy ever and you know he’s gonna have a bunch of people over for dinner to watch the boxing match and you wanna get invited, so you don’t wanna piss him off too much.