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Dee Bradley Baker On How He And John Cena Interact As Peacemaker And Eagly - Exclusive

Whether an actor is voicing a role for an animated film or television series, it's not often where they're actually in the room with their co-stars. Oftentimes, it's only the actor and the director, asking the voice artist to give different reads on the dialogue so he or she can eventually help shape the final performance. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has even thrown those rules out the window, where voice actors and directors often communicate remotely via a video link.

It's the sort of existence prolific voice actor Dee Bradley Baker has been living since COVID shook the entertainment industry, which explains why he's done his work with James Gunn — as Sebastian the rat in "The Suicide Squad" and Eagly the bald eagle in "Peacemaker" — while never being in the same room as the writer-director: "Since COVID, my career is completely mobile. I've worked from closets and from Los Angeles — a little Los Angeles studio I have in my garage — and out here in Colorado, I probably did most of, if not all, of 'The Suicide Squad' movie as Sebastian from here in a closet," Baker told Looper in an exclusive interview. "Then, I built a little sound studio here in Colorado that I worked on 'Peacemaker.' If you got a decent microphone, which doesn't have to be expensive, an acoustically dead environment and a good internet connection, then you're good to go as a voice actor."

Baker, who has voiced Captain Rex in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," the five clones that make up "Star Wars: The Bad Batch," and Bubble Bass and Perch Perkins in "SpongeBob SquarePants" — as well as hundreds of other beings including animals, robots, and monsters — found his work with Gunn to be a bit out of the ordinary. First of all, he was providing sounds — not voices — for his characters in "The Suicide Squad" and "Peacemaker," and second, Sebastian and Eagly, both created through CGI, would be interacting with humans in a live-action setting.

Baker credits Cena for establishing the bond between Peacemaker and Eagly

While the scenes between Eagly and Peacemaker are ultimately a combination of both Baker's and Cena's talents — as well as the meticulous work of the series' visual effects artists — Baker told Looper that the reason the characters' interactions are so convincing is largely due to Cena's gifts as an actor.

"First of all, he has the hard part. He has to interact with probably someone holding up a tennis ball with a couple of dots on it and act like this is your best friend — and then fill in with your imagination as an actor who you're interacting with, and that's not a small trick," Baker said. "That's pretty hard to do and I think he does a beautiful job with it. It really feels like the relationship was already clear, and it was already there."

Interestingly enough, Baker has never met Cena, much less interacted with him in any recording sessions, because the voice actor's work was added in postproduction.

"I passed him at a convention, I think it was up in Seattle a few months ago — I didn't get a chance to say hi, but I don't think the show was out yet. I don't think I had anything to say yet, [so] I haven't worked with him," Baker said. "The animation and the directing and the acting was already so solid in there that it was really easy to insert what I did — to bump that up a little bit, to add some seasoning to it."

All eight episodes of "Peacemaker," including the season finale, are now streaming exclusively on HBO Max.