‘Suicide Squad’ Actor Alain Chanoine Breaks Silence On His Top-Secret Villain
Those who packed into theaters for Suicide Squad this past weekend now know of the movie’s big bait and switch. It isn’t just that Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress was the main villain all along instead of the Joker, but that Enchantress is also joined by her equally mystical brother Incubus, embodied by Canadian actor Alain Chanoine.
The role was so top secret that Chanoine wasn’t allowed to talk about it until the day after Suicide Squad’s release. But now he can share about his big break, after a decade of honing his craft as an actor and as a stuntman for films like Blade: Trinity, Punisher: War Zone, Immortals and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Suicide Squad’s secret star talked to TMN’s Robert Dougherty on Aug. 6 about landing the role, working with Delevingne, the new technology he was given to bring Incubus to life and much more.
TMN/Robert Dougherty: How were you chosen to play Incubus?
Alain Chanoine: I don't know. I got a call at home directly from the casting director asking me to tape for this role of a business man. So I get to the site, it's a business man, a straight up business man, no super powers. Next they send the tape off, call me back for an interview for a second audition with David Ayer. Go back to Montreal. They fly me out for a chemistry meeting with Cara Delevingne. She storms in the room busting a move, dancing and I'm like, "I don't know what's happening but I'm gonna dance right now." [chuckle] I get a call saying that I'm cast. So I'm like, "I always knew good dancing will get me somewhere." [laughter]
TMN: Were you familiar with the characters of Incubus and Enchantress before this movie?
Chanoine: Nope, not at all. I knew about Suicide Squad, never read the comics. Started reading them before my third audition. Loved Suicide Squad. I was familiar with some characters, but I didn't know about the whole Suicide Squad thing, and I think it's a great plot, getting villains to fight villains. So yeah, I love it.
TMN: You've done stunt work for big movies like Blade Trinity and Days of Future Past before. Were you actively seeking to act in one before this opportunity came along?
Chanoine: I've been working on my craft since day one. Acting has always been my priority. For some reason early in my career, when I was in my young 20s and I was an athlete doing sports and karate around the world, I had the opportunity to have the career, work on big movies, make a living doing stunts. But acting has always been my passion. So yes, definitely.
TMN: How did you and Cara Delevingne master speaking in your ancient character's dialect?
Chanoine: First, it was complicated because David wrote the thing down, we got to change it. I speak three different languages: Creole, French, and English. He wanted me to get more of my tone in the movie. And Cara, because she's British, she was speaking in a different way than I was, just because he wanted it to sound original to ourselves. So I got to change a lot of the Moonspeak and he was really open. So yeah, it was fun. It was fun to make it up with him. I don't get all the vocabulary he's using, but it was fun to play with that.
TMN: Did you two film any extra scenes together that didn't make the final cut?
Chanoine: Yes, but I filmed in studios, so I didn't see Cara do her part. But we filmed some scenes in studios that I think didn't make the film.
TMN: While your work was primarily with Cara, what was it like facing down the whole squad of A-list actors like Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Joel Kinnaman in the final showdown?
Chanoine: That was awesome, just the fact of meeting them. Will Smith was a huge example in my life, like a role model. And I got to meet him, talk to him, chill with him. And just hanging out with all these people that are so open. I admired them as artists and in my personal life, so it was fantastic.
TMN: What kind of motion capture suit or technology did you use to become Incubus?
Chanoine: I do not know of the terminology, but I know Sony Image Works kept talking about the characters. They were so excited. First of all, it's awesome to work with such a big company with technicians that are so passionate about what they do.
I was on set as a reference for Incubus, and then they flew me to LA to do a dozen different scans and shooting cameras, motion captures. I was sitting in this big thing with hundreds of cameras all around me, I'm talking 360, like a little planet. And there were lights everywhere so it looks like I'm on Mars, and they're telling me only Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise have sat on this chair. Making me feel really important, but I still don't know what they're doing. [laughter]
I can't tell you the technical stuff but it's a new technology. Things that only the biggest movies, biggest stars use and Sony Image Works for when it comes to CGI, the best company out there. So yeah, it was just the best. The best of the best, I don't know what it's called.
TMN: What went into choreographing your biggest hand-to-hand fight scene?
Chanoine: For the reference for the fight scene, they took a 7ft tall stunt guy for the reference because Incubus is 10ft tall, so they wanted a tall guy. So I did not do the whole fight scene myself, but I did get to be part of the EA characters adversaries throughout the whole movie. Cara's henchmen were black with all the eyes everywhere, a bunch of stunts there. But yeah, it's some of the same guy that did the fight scene for Incubus.
TMN: What did you do on your downtime during filming?
Chanoine: There was the Fun Tent. That's my favorite part of the movie. No, maybe on set was a little better.
One part of the movie that was awesome was the Fun Tent. Joel and Will Smith built a Fun Tent with basketball, darts, pool, a ping-pong, a chess, flat screen TV's, hip-hop blasting on the speakers. And I remember Will Smith and Joel just having this chess match and they're so focused and my girlfriend is really pregnant, shooting hoops at basketball and [laughter] I'm like "Where am I?". It's so weird. [laughter] So yeah, it was fun.
TMN: Since your role and significance in the movie had to be hidden until now, were you able to tell anyone at all what you were really doing?
Chanoine: Well, my girlfriend was on set with me so she knew, she signed an NDA. People close to me knew that the role was coming, but they couldn't talk about it. Even my girlfriend didn't have her cell phone on her when she was on set.
So yes, I talked to people close to me but kept it on wraps for everybody else, which... It was hard once the trailer was out because I wanted to talk about it. But before that it's cool because you get to be on set and have the experience, and when the movie comes out while we're doing it right now and get a whole other experience than when people see the movie. So, it's fun.
TMN: When was the first time you were able to see yourself as Incubus on a big screen?
Chanoine: I think two and a half weeks ago when we did some ADR. There were certain scenes that they added, or something like that. They finished the work on the computer, but for the fight there's a lot of words and a lot of ADR I did for the final fight scene. That's the first time I saw Incubus.
TMN: Is it unusual to do that kind of work so close to the film's release?
Chanoine: No, no. It happens all the time. I think on Immortals we were doing a re-shoot in Montreal three weeks before the film was coming out. It happens often.
TMN: Everyone probably automatically assumed the Joker would be the arch villain in the movie. Did that put added pressure to get Incubus and Enchantress right, so you wouldn't let fans down with the bait and switch?
Chanoine: Everything would put pressure on because it's such a big movie, but I think the relationship with his sister was very important because they're thousands... 4000 years old. The emphasis was put on relationships and I think we worked on that off screen being so close.
TMN: Critics have already had their loud say on the movie, but have you heard much from fans yet?
Chanoine: Yes. I'm active on Twitter and Facebook, and to be honest I haven't seen the whole movie, I've seen a lot of scenes in ADR. Critics don't like the movie obviously, but fans do. Anyways that's all I hear right now, so it's unfortunate that critics don't like it but we do it for the fans. I do it because I love it, so I'm really glad the people love it.
TMN: I read you'll be moving to Los Angeles in October. Did you decide to make that kind of move before, during or after filming Suicide Squad?
Chanoine: It was just paper work. I got my visa, my O-1 visa and it was always in the works for me to go to LA. When I was younger I moved to Vancouver and I spent 10 years there. Now I got my O-1 Visa and I'm gonna go to LA.
Not everything shoots in LA anymore, so I'm just going to go over there, meet some people, get a job and go shoot wherever the next job is shooting. What's a big deal for me is finally having my O-1 visa, because I can now work in the United States. But it had nothing to do with Suicide Squad, it was always a plan of mine.
TMN: Now that more doors are being opened for you, are you hoping to look for work in other big movies that might show your actual face more, or work in more modest films and TV shows?
Chanoine: Yes. I'm working on something right now. I unfortunately can't talk about it because of the NDA. But the whole point of this is getting bigger and bigger roles and becoming a better and better actor, which is the thing I've been doing for the last 15 years.
So yes, definitely that's the plan, and you will see me very soon in something else.