Among all the summer releases, David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated. Aside from the fact that it’s based on the well-loved comic book, the film boasts a star-studded cast including Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and Jared Leto as The Joker. This couple is pretty dysfunctional, because let’s face it, it’s not every day that a psychiatrist falls in love with a mass murderer!
Back in June, Bustle’s Anna Klassen visited the set of the film to learn more about the inner workings of these dark characters. She learned that it was a challenge for Robbie to work so closely with Leto, who is a devout method actor — meaning he’s in character all the time. Typical actor discussions about the dynamic of their relationship or motivations were therefore out of the question, so Robbie decided to approach Leto using some of Harley Quinn’s tactics. That’s right, she studied him like a psychiatrist.
As Robbie told Bustle, “I ended up looking into MMPI testings,” which refer to Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory: the most common personality test in the field of mental health. The aim of the test is to determine if a patient is mentally ill, and aid in the formation of treatment plans.
So, whenever Robbie had a chance, she fired off a million questions to Leto (while he was in character). Some were quick and some were longer or more complex, which caught him off guard. She admits, “it was a lot like trial and error.” In the middle of all this, Robbie was able to reach some perspective. She compared Harley Quinn’s relationship with The Joker to the immense frustration of dating an alcoholic or drug addict. “It’s kinda like when your friend is doing something stupid in a relationship, and you’re just so frustrated. You’re like ‘What are you doing?” Of course, that’s a relatable feeling for many of us.
Finally, Robbie cracked through. “I landed on codependency as the tact to take. It’s like a compulsion, I suppose.” She started to view their relationship as being marked with an actual psychological problem, as in, codependency. It sounds like her strategy of breaking into Leto’s shell of method acting was genuinely beneficial, and helped her decipher the material. But we’ll have to wait and see the film to know for sure.