James Gunn asked Elizabeth Banks to run an ‘a****** check’ on ‘Peacemaker’ star

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HBO/DCEU

Peacemaker creator James Gunn turned to an old friend to run an “asshole check” on one of the cast members for his new DC TV series. While John Cena returns as Christopher Smith, the world’s most violent pacifist, in the HBO Max original after his debut in The Suicide Squad, he’s joined by a bunch of mostly fresh faces to the franchise. This includes Freddie Stroma, who plays Adrian Chase/Vigilante, an unhinged but strangely loveable crimefighter.

Stroma’s most known for playing Cormac McLaggen in the last three Harry Potter movies and Prince Friedrich in Bridgerton, but he’d never worked with Gunn before this. To ensure the guy wasn’t an “asshole”, the Guardians of the Galaxy director asked Stroma’s Pitch Perfect co-star Elizabeth Banks for a character reference. Thankfully, she told him he was “great” to work with.

As Gunn said on Twitter, during a Peacemaker watch party: “Also I should thank [Elizabeth Banks] who I called to do an asshole check to make sure [Freddie Stroma] was a good guy (I won’t work with assholes) – she worked with him on Pitch Perfect – she told me he was great & she was right!”

Banks and Gunn are old pals, going to back when The Hunger Games actress starred in the filmmaker’s 2006 horror Slither — the pair also collaborated on 2019 dark superhero flick Brightburn — so Gunn must’ve known he could trust her opinion on whether Stroma would be fun to work with or not. Getting her clearance must’ve come as a relief to Gunn after the struggles he had casting the character.

Chris Conrad was originally hired to play Vigilante and actually went so far as to shoot his scenes for the first five episodes. However, Conrad left the show after parting ways with Gunn over creative differences, though the latter has since confirmed that there’s no bad blood between them.

Stroma ultimately proved to be the right choice for the part as he was so dedicated he kept up his American accent throughout filming. So his return to his natural British voice after shooting wrapped gave Cena a big surprise!

Peacemaker continues Thursdays on HBO Max.