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The Suicide Squad's Mikaela Hoover Dishes On Her Rewarding Work With James Gunn And More - Exclusive Interview

Actor Mikaela Hoover has been blessed with many wonderful film and television opportunities over the years, including a long-lasting creative partnership with acclaimed writer-director James Gunn, and a memorable collaboration with directors Anthony and Joe Russo before the duo entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Kicking off her collaborations with Gunn in 2008 with a pair of TV projects, Hoover and Gunn formed a bond that yielded several more pairings throughout the years, including roles in the writer-director's films "Super" in 2010, and "Guardians of the Galaxy" in 2013. Hoover also had a role in the 2016 horror thriller "The Belko Experiment," which was written and produced by Gunn — a film that reunited her with Gunn favorite Michael Rooker and introduced her to one of the newest members of the filmmaker's troupe, David Dastmalchian.

Hoover, Rooker and Dastmalchian, as well as Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, and John Cena, are all featured in "The Suicide Squad," which marks Gunn's entrance into the DC movie universe. Playing in theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max, "The Suicide Squad" follows a group of supervillains-slash-antiheroes — Harley Quinn (Robbie), Bloodsport (Elba), Peacemaker (Cena), Polka-Dot Man (Dastmalchian), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and King Shark (voice of Sylvester Stallone) — as they attempt to thwart the deadly Project Starfish on the Latin American island of Corto Maltese from being unleashed.

Hoover appears in "The Suicide Squad" as Camila, the assistant to Corto Maltese's Major General Mateo Suárez (Joaquín Cosío), a military dictator charged with protecting Project Starfish. In exclusive interview with Looper, Hoover detailed her work on "The Suicide Squad" and longtime friendship and collaborations with Gunn, as well as her surprising encounter with Glenn Close on the set of "Guardians of the Galaxy." Hoover — whose resume also includes guest turns on the supernatural thriller "Lucifer" and sitcoms "How I Met Your Mother" and "Two Broke Girls" — additionally revealed a story involving the Russo brothers on the set of the sitcom "Happy Endings," which ended, quite literally, with a splash.

Mikaela Hoover starred in James Gunn's superhero show Sparky & Mikaela

James Gunn has formed this acting troupe of players over the years that keep coming back again and again, and of course you have to be excited to be one of those people. Do you feel sort of a family reunion going on whenever you go to a James Gunn set?

James and I are very close in real life. I've been so blessed. I definitely feel that. I think on all of James' sets, everybody feels that. I auditioned for James for a show called "Humanzee!" years and years ago, which was an Xbox show. And I'd never met him before that, but I just knew. You know when you meet someone and you're right away, like, "Oh, my gosh, I love this person, his humor!" He has a way with actors that I'm sure you've read, and everyone talks about.

So I did that project with him, and then I think a few months later, James and Peter Safran called, and they were like, "Hey, we created this show for Xbox called 'Sparky and Mikaela.' Would you like to do it?" And I was like, "Sure!" I didn't even know what it was about, but I was like, "Yeah, I'm in!" Working with James again is always the dream. And so we did that, and then after that, he continually brought me in for things, and just a friendship came after that, from working together for so long. And James has a tight-knit, close group of friends, and I'm really grateful to be one of them.

Your name, Mikaela, being part of "Sparky & Mikaela" — was that just by coincidence that the character was named Mikaela or was it specifically named for you?

They specifically named it for me is what they said. So, I mean, it was me and a raccoon, and I said, "Yes, I will do it. I would love to do it!" I mean, anything that James touches turns to gold, in my opinion, he's just so brilliant.

It's sort of a project that you can hardly turn down when they name the character for you, with a raccoon or not, right?

Yeah. But a raccoon makes it that much better!

Mikaela Hoover says The Suicide Squad screams James Gunn

What do you think separates "The Suicide Squad" from his other projects? Is it because he had more creative freedom this time around than maybe he's had in the past? Because we know this guy can be very creative.

Oh, he's a creative genius. Of course, everything he does is James' baby, but I think that with "The Suicide Squad," he just could do whatever he wanted, and he's proved himself enough to the big studios that they were like, "Go ahead." And I think that you see that in every aspect, in every single line, in every shot, you just see who James is. And that's why I'm personally sitting in that theater, watching it so proud of him, because it's him.

There's nothing that I watch and go, "I think James would have done that differently here." Everything screams James Gunn, and it is really cool to be able to have that creative freedom in anything, but especially in Hollywood, where a lot of times there's rules or restrictions on certain things, especially with big studio movies. And I think that he really got to do his own thing, which is so cool. And it shows. I mean, it's why I think people are loving it so much.

Regarding your character Camila in "The Suicide Squad," unlike the cruel fate your character suffers in "The Belko Experiment"—

Oh, my goodness. I love you! You watched "Belko"!

I loved it. And you know why? First of all, I've talked with Michael Rooker a few times. Also, I'm buddies with David Dastmalchian.

They are both amazing people. Rooker is one of my favorite humans on the planet, just because he's Rooker. I mean, as you know, you've interviewed him. Just one of a kind, David has the kindest heart of any human being. I mean, I got to meet David in Columbia [where the film was shot], and we got to spend time together, and he is just such an incredible human. I mean, everybody that knows him says the same thing, same with Rooker. James has a way of also bringing people together that are really, really good humans. So, I'm very blessed for that as well.

Exactly. And you're absolutely right. I mean, I love both of them, and David is really getting a lot of attention for his role as Polka-Dot Man.

As he should.

David Dastmalchian's performance is really touching people emotionally, and I think that's what's interesting about "The Suicide Squad." It's like people will think on the surface, "All right, it's a superhero-slash-supervillain film," but that doesn't mean that these films can't have real emotions. And I think that's part of what James Gunn as a writer is blessed by giving characters like Polka-Dot Man emotional things that we can relate to.

James is, just as a friend, he's so empathetic. And I think that it's very rare for someone to be able to show that in their work. And he does such a brilliant job of it. He's one of the most caring ... I mean, he always roots for the underdog and that's what really, that and his humor, what really brought a friendship and what attracted me to James as a human. It's really incredible that he's been able to show that in his film.

The size of John Cena's arms gave Mikaela Hoover some perspective

Are there any other cast members you can share stories about while filming "The Suicide Squad"?

When I was in Atlanta I got to be around John Cena, who was great. His arm is bigger than my entire body, which is kind of cool. And he's such a hard worker, seeing his work ethic, and he's so into it. He's always on and he's always gives great performances. He's so professional. So, seeing that was really cool. I of course, got to be around David, who I absolutely adore, and I got to be around Jennifer Holland. who's now going to be one of the main characters in the "Peacemaker" spinoff, who's also a friend of mine. So it was great. I mean, the whole cast is. They couldn't have had a better cast. Just as far as people go, they were all so kind and so hardworking and they all really believed in the project. There, wasn't a bad thing to say about any of them. They were just all amazing.

That's great. I think John Cena's arm is probably bigger than most of us.

I said, "Can I see your arm next to my arm?" And he held his arm up and I'm like, "That's bigger than my entire body. What?" [Laughs] So, I mean, he's a handsome man.

Getting back to that scene in "Belko" when, unfortunately, your boss of all people guns you down. I mean, come on, what's going on with that? I'm so glad that Alice Braga had the heart not to take you out along with all those other bad people in "The Suicide Squad," but you did get splattered with some blood.

I feel so foolish. I didn't even mention Alice Braga! Alice is one of the most incredible women I've ever met. She made me feel so comfortable on set. She is such an, if you want to say, like a girl's girl, cheering me on. At the premiere, she's like, "Your scream. I keep thinking about your scream." And that she's just so supportive and she goes above and beyond. And she's also a brilliant actress. I mean, let alone ... Good human, brilliant actress. Just that cast was incredible.

Glenn Close surprised Mikaela Hoover on the Guardians of the Galaxy set

You were in "Guardians of the Galaxy" as an assistant to Nova Prime, Glenn Close. Any stories about Glenn? It was a pleasant surprise to see her in James' movie, because when you think of Glenn Close, you think of serious roles. You don't expect her to show up in a superhero film, but boy, did she grab the role with gusto.

She does it with gusto is absolutely correct. I was so nervous, because I was in the makeup chair next to her. And I was like, "Oh my gosh, that's Glenn Close! That's Glenn Close!" And she also was incredibly kind. She was very complimentary. I mean, this is years ago, but she was like, "If they did a 'Fatal Attraction' remake, you'd be perfect for it. Your look, and you're fierce." I mean, she was so nice. And of course, I'm like shaking, like, "Oh my gosh, Glenn Close just talked to me!" And then on set, she was great as well. I mean, I don't have a bad thing to say about her. Watching her, I mean, I was like, "Is this real life?" I was pinching myself. How can this be? I'm standing next to Glenn Close in a film. I was so honored. It was really cool.

It's especially an honor having Glenn Close tell you that you should be in a remake of "Fatal Attraction."

Oh my God. Yeah. I mean, who knows? This was, like I said, years ago, but it was, I was like, "Oh my gosh, I can die happy now."

That's great. And between you and I, look, I love Cher, she's terrific and everything, but Glenn should have won the Oscar for "Fatal Attraction" that year!

I agree! I agree!

Mikaela Hoover says it's tough to pick favorites

So I know it's hard to pick favorites and you probably have favorites for different reasons, but is there a James Gunn project that you took part in that you're more partial to than maybe the others?

"Sparky & Mikaela" was so fun. And also, I did "Super," and I met Nathan Fillion on that. And we've continued to have a great friendship from that. James got to be in that as well, so that was so fun. And Rooker was in that. Just to me, the memories of that film were really cool ... Everything that I do with James I'm really proud of and I'm really grateful for.

Now that you have several of James' projects under your belt now, including DC and Marvel, is there a major DC or Marvel character that you'd want to take a crack at in a future James Gunn production?

Not really. I just, anything James throws at me, I'm like, "I love it!" And I'll take it. I trust his creative genius brain. So, if anything does come up and it's right for me, I'd love to do it.

Since you've worked in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe, what do you feel are the differences between those two, as far as their sensibilities? What sticks out to you about each of those comic book movie universes? Because I think they are distinct.

Yeah, they are. I mean, when I think of DC, I think of "The Dark Knight" and I think it's a little bit — and I hope I don't get in trouble for saying this and maybe I shouldn't — but it's a little bit more gritty. But they're both unreal, amazing.

I think DC definitely does have a darker edgier side. And you do get lighter fare in the MCU. Although, as we know, with the "Avengers" films and "Guardians," I mean, there is tragedy in those films as well.

Thank you. Yeah. But I would say that DC's a little, probably grittier, almost if that's the right word, than Marvel, but they're both incredible.

Mikaela Hoover toasts the Russo brothers and her role on Happy Endings

We've seen you in the Netflix romcom "Holidate," where you played Annie, and now, IMDb says you're getting to play the lead in "Love Hard" on Netflix. What can you tell us about the film?  

I'm not the lead in "Love Hard." It's Jimmy O. Yang and Nina Dobrev, and Darren Barnet. I play Harry's [Shum Jr.] wife in it, and it was one of the best filming experiences I've ever had. Vancouver is one of the most magical places I've ever been. I can't wait for people to see this movie.   

And it has a holiday theme as well?

Yeah. It's based around Christmas.

Your credits also include the romantic sitcoms "Happy Endings" and "How I Met Your Mother." What sort of interactions can you share from those productions?

"Happy Endings" was one of my favorite experiences that I've ever had. David Caspe wrote it and the Russo brothers directed it, and it was so brilliantly done. I auditioned for Jackie, and that's one of my favorite characters that I've ever played. I got to come back and play Jackie, which was amazing. That show was just so much fun.

"How I Met Your Mother" was also an incredible experience. Pamela Fryman directed that. And I got to work again with Pamela on a pilot for CBS a couple of years later, so that was also incredibly fun. But I will say that Jackie from "Happy Endings" is probably my favorite character I've ever played.

It's so interesting that you worked with Joe and Anthony Russo before they started directing in the MCU. It shot them into the stratosphere. I'm hoping at some point that you can reunite with those two.

Me too! Let's put that in the universe that I get to work with them again, because I loved working with them. Although there was a scene in "Happy Endings" where Jackie throws her drink at one of the lead actresses. And I don't know if it was ... I think it was Anthony who was like, "Okay, this is where you're going to .... " And I was like, "I'm really nervous. I don't have a good throw." He's like, "No, no, no, just practice. Throw right here and it'll land right here." And I went to throw it and I covered him. [Laughs with embarrassment]

That is a great story. Something he'll remember, that's for sure.

Yeah. He's probably like, "I don't ever want to work with her again." [Laughs] They were really great. "Happy Endings" will always be like my baby project, I think, because it just was so much fun. And the cast in "Happy Endings" ... Damon Wayans is one of the funniest human beings I've ever worked with in my entire life. Zach [Knighton] is also. They're all, like Casey [Wilson], they're just some of the funniest people. That just was such a special experience. And I think it's because I did the pilot, so I got to start it out with all of them before they knew what was going to happen with it.

"The Suicide Squad" is playing in theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max.