While last year didn’t have much content for DC Comics fans, audiences are eating well in 2022. The Batman is just over a month away and, more currently, James Gunn’s Peacemaker is airing new episodes on HBO Max. Starring John Cena, the show takes the miraculously alive character and puts him right into the spotlight. After the events of The Suicide Squad, the (potentially) former villain has a new lease on life—one that’s almost immediately interrupted by ARGUS, who has a different plan for his future.
A new team is formed, led by Chukwudi Iwuji’s Clemson Murn, whose task is to hunt down Butterflies. What exactly does that mean? Well, as of Episode 4, it seems to be referencing people controlled by an alien parasite resembling the aforementioned insect.
One of their first official missions is to assassin a potential group of butterflies; it’s not an ordinary group, however. It’s a senator and his entire family. Not only that, but they have a guard: Judomaster.
Not much is known about the costumed protector, but if anything is clear, it’s that he’s one hell of a good fighter. He can throw around Cena like he is nothing, brush off being hit by a van, and live through a bullet in the chest.
The new hero, or maybe villain, is brought to life by newcomer Nhut Le. Now, The Direct got to sit down with the actor to discuss his role on the show, working with James Gunn and John Cena, and how excited he is about the upcoming film The Batman.
Judomaster & His Cheetos
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Direct, Peacemaker star Nhut Le talked about his role as Judomaster in the new DC Comics HBO Series.
For the Vietnamese actor, “it [felt] sorta surreal” to become a superhero, and “it hasn’t really hit [him] yet:”
“… It feels sorta surreal, cause I’d be watching the show, and just enjoying the show, and then I see myself, and I was like, ‘Wait. I’m in this.’ So, like, it hasn’t really hit me that I’m Judomaster yet.”
One of the biggest parts of being a superhero is the outfits. Judomaster has an entirely original costume in the show. Le noted that “it was really cool” to put on the skin-tight attire, and at the time of booking the role, “[he] thought [he] was playing some sort of henchman:”
“It was really cool. The costume is skin-tight, so I had to do a 3-D scan of it. And actually, when I booked the role, I didn’t realize it was for Judomaster cause the audition was just some sides, and it was just a regular person’s name. So I thought I was playing some sort of henchman or something.”
When asked how his journey into acting had begun, the newly-minted superhero revealed that it involved a “musical called Pacific… in fourth grade:”
“I actually started when I was in fourth grade. My best friend’s dad knew the director for the high school, and they were doing a musical called Pacific… as a little kid I was pretty shy, so to be on stage and perform in front of everyone was sort of outside of my comfort zone, but I had so much fun with the cast and crew that I kept on doing theater.”
Before taking on his Peacemaker role, had Le already seen the spin-off’s predecessor, The Suicide Squad? According to him, “[he] didn’t see the project going into it,” as Peacemaker had “already begun shooting” half a year before the DC film hit theaters:
“Not beforehand, so I saw it at the premiere in August, but we had already begun shooting in January, and I wrapped my portion in the middle of June, so I didn’t see the project going into it. I just read bits and pieces of what happened in the script, and so I remember sitting at the premiere of The Suicide Squad, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, now this all makes sense.’”
As for who he liked the most amongst the film’s group of supervillains, Le called out David Dastmalachian’s Polka Dot Man, saying that “[he] did such a great job with [the character].” Rat-Catcher 2 also got a mention, with the actor saying she was a “genuine character with a lot of heart:”
“I really liked Polka Dot Man’s storyline. David Dastmalchian did such a great job with him. I also liked Rat-Catcher 2; she’s like sort of the innocent, genuine character with a lot of heart.”
Both John Cena and Steve Agee, who played the on-set King Shark, were a part of The Suicide Squad. When asked what it felt like to throw the big wigs around, the Judomaster actor was quick to “[thank the] fight choreography and stunts that would allow [him] to ever do something like that:”
“I’m very thankful for fight choreography and stunts that would allow me to ever do something like that. Because those guys are two, if not three, times my size. So… I have to thank the amazing stunt team, they’re so cool, the choreography is great, and they just took really good care of me.”
When it came to making the character his own, Le mentioned playing into his “Napolean complex” and that he made a fun character choice involving “whenever he’s eating Cheetos:”
“... I think with Judomaster, he sort of has… a Napolean complex because he’s so tiny… [and] one of the choices I made was whenever he’s eating Cheetos… he always does it with an open mouth. He doesn’t give an eff’ about anything. He’s like, ‘If you don’t like it, I can just beat you up.’ You know, cause he’s such a badass. And I think it's sort of that mentality just carrying through the whole show.”
When asked if Peacemaker and Judomaster would ever team up, Le said that if it does ever happen, “[he] would put in a special request,” one that will remind fans of the famous Fast Ball Special movie that Wolverine and Colussus coined in their X-Men comics:
“I feel like if we ever do team-up, I would put in a special request, that Peacemaker just throws Judomaster at a bunch of enemies. Like a live grenade.”
The actor also praised director James Gunn’s writing, noting how “it’s so involved and intricate” and how “amazing” the scripts were:
“... One of the cool things about James [Gunn’s] writing [is how] it’s so involved and intricate, and it weaves in and out of itself that when I read it, I was like, ‘Wow, this script is amazing.' One of the funniest scripts I’ve ever read. But also, what it does for the characters is really great.”
Within the broader world of DC, who would qualify as Le’s favorite? He was quick to point at the upcoming The Batman film, noting how he’s “really excited” about it and that he thinks it would be really “cool to fight Batman:”
“I’m really excited about the new Batman that’s coming out, so I’d have to say [him]... I think it would be cool to fight Batman just because Judomaster is sort of an expert in all types of martial arts. And Batman is known for using a lot of gadgets and stuff like that, and weapons. So, I think it would be really creative to see how the two would fight each other.”
What final teases could the actor give fans? The man behind Judomaster says that fans can expect “a lot more actions, some fights, [and] more Cheetos.”
Only the Beginning for Judomaster?
Nhut Le has done an excellent job bringing Judomaster to life and giving audiences a fantastic and hilarious foil to Peacemaker.
With the two being great fighters and hard-headed, there’s almost no chance James Gunn didn’t find a situation where they have to team up. After all, there has to be some foul scheme brewing—whether it be from the actual Butterflies or now.
In the comics, the character is a hero, so one would think there’s some misunderstanding waiting to be discovered. The future of the character after Peacemaker is unclear, but viewers have only just met him.
There are plenty of questions left to be answered, so hopefully, next time the martial arts expert is out of bed, he stays conscious long enough to reveal a little more about himself. Whatever it is, it is likely to have more aggressive Cheeto consumption.
Peacemaker streams weekly every Thursday, exclusively on HBO Max.