Producer Peter Safran on ‘Peacemaker,’ Eagly, Why He Loves the Finale, and How the 'Shazam!' Sequel Has More Humor and Bigger Action

He also reveals his dream movie project which is about the first meeting of Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in 1942 in Moscow.

Peacemaker, Shazam

1/17/2022 10:01:00 PM

We spoke w/ producer Peter Safran about Peacemaker , Eagly, why he loves the finale, and how the Shazam sequel has more humor and bigger action.

He also reveals his dream movie project which is about the first meeting of Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in 1942 in Moscow.

Watch what Peter Safran had to say in the player above, or you can read the transcript below. I was wondering if it was a VFX reason. But he's like, "No, it's just for spoilers." He's like, "I don't want them getting out there." I'm like, "I don't blame you. I get it." You've produced a number of things, but I know there must be some stuff in your back pocket that you're waiting to get made. If you had the ability to get the financing for any project tomorrow, what would be the thing that you make and why?

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With writer-director James Gunn’s Peacemaker now streaming on HBO Max, I recently spoke with producer Peter Safran about making the fantastic series. During the interview, he talked about how Gunn wears his heart on his sleeve, the opening credits, why he loves the finale, Peacemaker's relationship with Eagly, and more. In addition, he talked about how director David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! sequel (Shazam! Fury of the Gods) has bigger action, some great villains, and more humor, and his dream film project, which is about the first meeting of Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in 1942 in Moscow called Winston and Joe. COLLIDER VIDEO OF THE DAY As most of you know, Peacemaker picks up after the events of The Suicide Squad. The film’s post-credit scene showed how the anti-hero survived Idris Alba's Bloodsport shot to the throat and how Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller still was not done using him in her mysterious plans. Gunn has written all eight episodes of the series and directs five of the show’s episodes. Also directing will be Jody Hill, Rosemary Rodriguez, and Brad Anderson. In addition to John Cena returning as Peacemaker, the series will also see the return of The Suicide Squad’s Steve Agee’s John Economos and Jennifer Holland’s Emilia Harcourt. Peacemaker also stars Freddie Stroma as Vigilante, Danielle Brooks as Leota Adebayo, Chukwudi Iwuji as Clemson Murn, and Robert Patrick as Peacemaker’s father. Watch what Peter Safran had to say in the player above, or you can read the transcript below. COLLIDER: Let me start with congratulations on Peacemaker. I saw the first seven and I was begging James to have him show me episode eight. And he's like, "No way." PETER SAFRAN: Steven, I love episode eight in a way that I cannot even describe. When you see it, you'll see why we did not reveal it earlier. But it is the culmination of all these incredibly intricate threads that he has been weaving through one through seven. They all come together beautifully in 108. I love it. I think that one of the great things that James has been able to do is to give true character development and arcs to the entire ensemble, not just Peacemaker. I was wondering if it was a VFX reason. But he's like, "No, it's just for spoilers." He's like, "I don't want them getting out there." I'm like, "I don't blame you. I get it." You've produced a number of things, but I know there must be some stuff in your back pocket that you're waiting to get made. If you had the ability to get the financing for any project tomorrow, what would be the thing that you make and why? SAFRAN: I think it has to be the Javelin-Weasel odd couple show. They live together in New York, they're roommates and it's just their life together in New York City. No. Listen, we have some other things in development that are real priorities. Some spin-off, some originals. I think DC has such a deep well of characters. Ultimately, what it comes down to is finding the right filmmaker to pair those properties up with. Because you need a James Gunn to say, "You know what would make the Suicide Squad work? Let's do it as a 1970s war caper movie." RELATED: James Gunn on ‘Peacemaker,’ The Secrecy Around Episode 8, That Opening Song, and Giving Peacemaker a Bald Eagle For a Partner I don't even mean just DC. I just mean in general. SAFRAN: Oh. Is there a script that you've had for years like this needs to get made? SAFRAN: Okay. Yes. I'll tell you, there is one. It's written by this, it's going to sound weird, this British historian Simon Seabag Montefiore. It's called Winston and Joe. And it is about the first meeting of Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in 1942 in Moscow when Churchill travels there to meet with him and basically keep him from capitulating. It's like Frost/Nixon but with those two great characters. That is one I would like to make. So Steven, if you could provide the financing for that I'm ready to go make that movie this year. Sometimes putting it out into the ether like this, you never know. SAFRAN: I think it's the first time I've said it out loud. So this could be my manifestation of it. Thank you. Exactly. You've been working with James I believe since 2007, 2008. It's been a long time. Maybe even earlier and I don't know. What do you think would surprise people to learn about James based on your long history of working with him? SAFRAN: I don't know that people would be surprised because James, he wears his heart on his sleeve. James is pretty much an open book creatively, the things that he loves, the things that he hates. He's never really hidden who he is. I don't know that people would necessarily be surprised by anything about him other than... No. I think people know who he is. If you've seen Slither, super. Guardians of the Galaxy, Peacemaker and The Suicide Squad, you really know a lot about James because he's been given incredible freedom creatively to make these shows and to talk about the things that are meaningful to him, whether its toxic masculinity, father-son relationships, mother-daughter relationships, familial relationships, darkness, depression, what it's like to be an underdog, what it's like to be an outsider. I think he's pretty much an open book. RELATED: 'Peacemaker's Jennifer Holland Gives a Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Creation of That Bar Scene Move So obviously like everyone, I love Eagly. Eagly is going to be one of the favorites of the series. What was it like for you though? Because you're making this obviously on a budget, what was it like when you read the script and James is telling you, yeah, we're going to have a Bald Eagle as his pet and he's going to be a really big part of the series. SAFRAN: Oh, I loved it. He always talked about Eagly. Even before he wrote these episodes, I think he really talked about the Bald Eagle that was his sidekick/best friend. I love how James anthropomorphizes animals. If he can make you care about a talking tree or a raccoon or what he did with Sebastian or Weasel in The Suicide Squad, I couldn't wait to see what he was going to do with Eagly. I love the character. There's kind of a nurturing side to him. He really wants to protect and look after his best friend Peacemaker. I love what he did with it. So no, we embraced the idea of Eagly, as did HBO Max, instantaneously. Also, the thing about James is he makes all of his animal characters feel flesh and blood. You know what I mean? SAFRAN: Yes. Yeah. You really care about these characters. SAFRAN: Very much so. I mean, listen. Even from that first episode where Eagly puts his wings around on Peacemaker and then to kind of call back to that later on, it brings a tear to your eye. You can't believe that you are emotionally engaged in a Bald Eagle hugging a reprehensible human being like Christopher Smith. 100% agree with you. Obviously, I'm going to bring up thing else, I spoke to Zach (Levi). Listen, you know I love Shazam. I was fortunate enough to be on set. I spoke to Zach recently and he thinks that the sequel is even better than the first. What can you say about it? SAFRAN: Well, even though this is a Peacemaker conversation, but I loved the first Shazam movie. I thought it was beautifully done. I thought that David Sandberg nailed that tone so incredibly well. The eye of the needle was so small to get it right, but he really did nail it. I feel like this second one has more emotion, more humor, but it also has bigger action, bigger set pieces, some great villains. I just feel like it's everything that we loved in the first movie but really turned up to 11. So I love it. I think the addition of some of these new characters with Rachel Zegler and Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu are fantastic editions. I love that the kids are all a little bit older now so we get to have a little bit more fun in kind of an edgier fashion with them. Zach inhabits that character in such a beautiful fashion. So to have been able to make a second one of those, it's a thrill. RELATED: John Cena on ‘Peacemaker,’ the Opening Credits, and Why Filming His Underwear Action Scene Was Painful Well also, the other thing is when you're making the first movie of anything you're figuring out what's going to work and what resonates with the fans. The first film is so good and people love it. I'm sure that gave you more freedom on set to further push what you wanted to do. SAFRAN: Yeah, I think it did. The glory of having the same filmmaker, David Sandberg, who had lived through the first one and then really knew what he wanted for the second one to amp it up, it was a great shoot. It was very, very smooth. We had an incredible script from Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan so it was a really smooth shoot. I think now obviously having seen cuts of the movie, it's really reflected in that final product. I just have to tell you that the opening credits on Peacemaker are A+. I love them so much that I could keep screaming about how awesome they are. SAFRAN: Do you want to taste it? No. I mean, listen. James wrote that choreography into the very first draft that I ever read of episode one. He was like, "Here's the intro, here's the dance number." Here's the fully choreographed dance number that they take really seriously, that they are just taking it really serious. And that was it. He always knew what he wanted. But I love it and I hope we've created something that's unskipable. I hope people will watch it each time. I watched all seven episodes and every single time it brought a smile to my face. Seriously. SAFRAN: That's great. That's great. We're bringing back hair metal. I love it. Hey, listen man, I wish you nothing but the best. SAFRAN: Yeah. We'll talk soon for sure. The first three episodes of Peacemaker are now streaming on HBO Max. 7 Essential Jonah Hill Performances, From 'Moneyball' to 'Superbad' Here are some of Hill's most hilarious and most dramatic performances Read Next Share Share Tweet Email Related Topics About The Author Steve Weintraub (9678 Articles Published) Steven Weintraub launched Collider in the summer of 2005. As Editor-in-chief, he has taken the site from a small bedroom operation to having millions of readers around the world. If you’d like to follow Steven on Twitter or Instagram, you can expect plenty of breaking news, exclusive interviews, and pictures of cats doing stupid things. More From Steve Weintraub