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Peter Capaldi On Playing ‘Supervillain Malcolm Tucker’ In The Suicide Squad

by : Cameron Frew on : 27 Jul 2021 12:58
Peter Capaldi On Playing Supervillain 'Malcolm Tucker' In The Suicide SquadBBC/Warner Bros.

Peter Capaldi stars as The Thinker in The Suicide Squad, a supervillain with a ‘to-do list longer than a f*cking Leonard Cohen song’. 

Some may know the Scottish actor as Doctor Who’s 12th Time Lord. Others may associate him with Local Hero, or Paddington’s curmudgeonly neighbour Mr. Curry. For true Capaldi fans, his crowning work will always be his portrayal of Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It.

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Over three seasons and a movie, his tenure was peerless, unloading staggering, unmatched language. ‘The guy is an epic f*ck-up. He’s so dense that light bends around him,’ for example. ‘Christ, see you, you are a f*cking omnishambles, that’s what you are. You’re like that coffee machine, you know: from bean to cup, you f*ck up,’ he also said. Amazingly, Tucker’s DNA is very much present in The Thinker.

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UNILAD sat down with Capaldi ahead of the release of The Suicide Squad, where he plays Gaius Grieves, also known as The Thinker, a super-intelligent inventor with telepathic abilities.

Doctor Who may seem like the most obvious stepping stone to a comic movie, but James Gunn was looking elsewhere. ‘He cast me because he’d seen me in In the Loop, the spin-off from The Thick of It,’ Capaldi said.

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One line sticks out as particularly Tucker-esque: ‘Yankie f*cking doodle dandie.’ It wasn’t written by Gunn – he just told Capaldi to let rip.

‘He doesn’t really know about Doctor Who or anything, that’s why he put me in it. James writes scripts brilliantly, and what you do with James is you shoot all the lines, and he’d say to me… just make some stuff up. It was quite nice to be allowed to make some of that stuff up again. It’s always a bit scary though, but that’s what he wanted, so I just let Malcolm out again. That’s where Malcolm went, he became a supervillain,’ he laughed.

Peter Capaldi as The Thinker. (Warner Bros.)Warner Bros.

As a Scot who grew up watching The Thick of It, quoting it through university with the slightest inconvenience, I asked Capaldi how it felt to have such a strong legacy of swearing.

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‘I know, it’s quite strange! Look, you’re Scottish and I’m Scottish right, we know how to swear, right? Other people think it’s a special gift, a special thing, but we know it’s like the air that we breathe. So they think it’s a special talent, something that you’ve worked on. It’s nice to let it out,’ he said.

‘Strangely in my real life, I try to do it less and less. I had to not do it when I was Doctor Who, I had to not swear for four years ’cause that was all little kids around. So as soon as I left Doctor Who, I just swore for about six months, which was great. Now it’s reached a reasonable, Scottish level – which is much higher than the average, but not up there.

‘The trouble was when I was Malcolm, it became a kind of… if I couldn’t remember my lines, I’d just say f*ck. I’d be saying a line, and I couldn’t f*cking remember the next f*cking line, so I’d say f*ck and you don’t f*cking realise what you’re f*cking saying because I don’t f*cking know what I’m going to say the f*ck yet. But then Armando would be very particular… he’d come and say, ‘You know, I think that f*ck was a wee bit too much, bring it down a bit, make that a six. Then the next one should be an eight’.’

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After recovering from hysterical laughter, I asked him the burning question: ‘Can you confirm your return in Paddington 3?’

Paddington 3? I don’t know anything about a Paddington 3. I’ve no idea, no idea,’ he replied with a wry smile. After that, we bid each other ‘f*ckety-bye.’

The Suicide Squad hits cinemas on Friday, July 30. 

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Cameron Frew

Entertainment Editor at UNILAD. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best film ever made, and Warrior is better than Rocky. That's all you need to know.

Topics: Featured, Film and TV, Suicide Squad