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Jennifer Holland Reveals Why Peacemaker's Characters Are Deeper Than You Think - Exclusive

As fans are discovering with the new HBO Max series "Peacemaker," there's a lot more to John Cena's brawny and seemingly brainless antihero than he let on in the DC supervillain movie "The Suicide Squad." Most of Peacemaker's viewpoints are still antiquated with monstrously inappropriate observations, but episodic television has also allowed writer-director James Gunn to add a lot more complexity to a character who was previously judged merely by what he displayed on the surface.

Peacemaker isn't the only character benefitting from the namesake series Gunn has taken a deeper dive other characters that appeared in "The Suicide Squad" who have crossed over into the series, including Jennifer Holland's ass-kicking NSA Agent Emilia Harcourt — one of the crew members who helped Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and A.R.G.U.S. (Advanced Research Group Uniting Superhumans) monitor Task Force X during the squad's Corto Maltese mission to destroy Project Starfish.

Much to Holland's surprise, Harcourt's role has expanded considerably in "Peacemaker," and she couldn't have been more thrilled.

"When I did the role in 'The Suicide Squad' with James, I thought it was going to be this fun time. I'd spend a couple of weeks on set working with these incredible actors and that was going to be the end of it. She was a very, very small character originally," Holland told Looper in an exclusive interview. "She got a little bit bigger as he was writing it, and so he thought that she should have a name. He gave her the name Emilia Harcourt, but it was basically a fun thing for the fans to see when they watch the credits [since she was a character in the DC comics]. It wasn't really supposed to be much of anything else. He didn't think about it any further than that when he wrote her for the film. When she became such an integral part of the series, I was blown away."

Peering into Harcourt's deadly decisions

In "The Suicide Squad," most of the dirty work is left up to Peacemaker, Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), while Harcourt, computer genius John Economos (Steve Agee) and their teammates are relegated to an off-the-books office. In "Peacemaker," however, Harcourt and company dive into the mission to thwart an alien race named "Butterflies" as deep as Peacemaker does, which in some instances has deadly consequences.

Suddenly, that means Harcourt needs to make split decisions about using her weapon, and as such, it peers into the mind of a person tasked with using deadly force.

"Well, in Episode 3, when she shoots that bodyguard, I don't see Harcourt as being wrong because the whole point is ... it doesn't matter if he's a Butterfly. He's seen us, he's seen our faces. It doesn't matter," Holland observed. "So, the whole point was that we were supposed to go in there, be [stealthy] so no one would see us, and we'd go in and go out and do our job. Unfortunately, someone saw us, someone saw our faces. Whether or not that person ended up being a Butterfly, they had to be taken out. We didn't have a choice."

The necessary evil, she added, was not only for Harcourt's self-preservation, but preservation of the mission: "The whole point for her was that if we are outed, we're screwed, we're f—ed, so we have to stay anonymous in order to carry out the rest of this mission," Holland explained. "[The bodyguard Harcourt shot] was unfortunately a casualty in terms of carrying out the rest of the mission and completing their mission."

"Peacemaker" is streaming exclusively on HBO Max with new episodes on Thursdays.