Warning: this story contains spoilers for Peacemaker Episode 1, "A Whole New Whirled." John Cena bares all and reveals the Peacemaker sequence that pushed him into an "uncomfortable space." Spinning out of last summer's The Suicide Squad, the HBO Max Original series created by James Gunn recruits born killer and weapons expert Christopher Smith (Cena) to Project Butterfly: an ARGUS black ops mission to "save the f*cking world." Episode 1 climaxes with Smith's first hookup in years when he meets barfly Annie Sturphausen (Crystal Mudry), causing Cena to perform a postcoital dance in his underwear as Smith belts out "I Don't Love You Anymore" by The Quireboys.
In an interview with Polygon, Gunn revealed Cena performed his half-naked dance number on his first day on set.
"I think that some of the rock 'n' roll stuff that he's into has actually been a more positive influence on him than, say, his father has been," Gunn said of Smith's white supremacist father "Auggie" Smith (Robert Patrick). Dancing with Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) in The Suicide Squad is "the only moment he's happy in the entire movie," and in Peacemaker, music is "just a part of the story, it's a part of who the character is [...] I think that it's just a part of his sort of secret joy that he has with him, you know, that he only practices by himself, for the most part, his relationship to music is a very private thing."
"I don't dance; it's something I'm not very comfortable with. [And] even in a COVID, restricted environment watching you do your thing," Cena said, adding he performed Smith's underwear dance as if it were an "end zone celebration dance for the Super Bowl."
"I think it's more of an expression of him being happy or having a flash of fulfillment or meaning. And that's why it doesn't need to take any shape or form, it can be off key," he said of Smith's first sexual experience after spending the last four years in prison and another five months recovering in the hospital after The Suicide Squad. "It shows a very human side to Peacemaker [...] and I appreciate James for trying to push me into that uncomfortable space because it doesn't need to be anything more than it is; it's just a freedom of being fulfilled."
Starring John Cena, Danielle Brooks, Freddie Stroma, Jennifer Holland, Chukwudi Iwuji, Steve Agee, and Robert Patrick, new episodes of DC's Peacemaker premiere Thursdays on HBO Max.