Chris Messina sported fake teeth and blue eye shadow for his 'Birds of Prey' audition to play an iconic Batman villain02/09/2020
- Chris Messina gives a surprising performance as villain Victor Zsasz in "Birds of Prey."
- The movie's director, Cathy Yan, told Insider how his audition tape, which included him wearing fake teeth and blue eye shadow, blew her and the movie's star, Margot Robbie, away.
- "Completely balls to the walls, and me and Margot loved it," Yan said. "We were like, 'What is this?'"
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Chris Messina is known best to audiences for playing nice guys with a little edge, like Danny Castellano on "The Mindy Project" or Detective Richard Willis on HBO's "Sharp Objects." But in "Birds of Prey" he takes things really dark, revealing a range we never thought the actor had.
The result is one of the highlights of the movie.
In the film (in theaters Friday), Messina plays the villain, Victor Zsasz. He's the intimidating henchman of Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), who rocks bleached hair, has a psychotic look in his eye, and scars all over his body.
Though McGregor is touted as the main foil in the movie, as a twisted crime boss in Gotham City also known as Black Mask, it's Zsasz who strikes fear in the heart of not just Harley Quinn and her crew but the audience as well.
But in no way was Messina an obvious choice for "Birds of Prey" director Cathy Yan and its star/producer Margot Robbie.
"He fought for this role," Yan told Insider. "He sent in this bonkers audition tape, completely balls to the walls, and me and Margot loved it. We were like, 'What is this?'"
But the look and vibe of Messina in his audition was exactly what Yan was looking for.
"I just remember in the audition he put these fake teeth in his mouth and he put blue eye shadow on," she said. "And he didn't have the script. So I don't know what in the world made him think that that was what the character was from basically the two pages that he got for the audition. But it was the version that I wanted."
Messina's immediate commitment to the role forced everyone on the movie to take serious consideration in him to play Zsasz and he eventually got the role.
But he didn't dial it down during production.
"You should have seen some of the stuff that was left on the cutting room floor," Yan said with a laugh of Messina's performance. "But I would say what you do see is a relatively pulled back version of what he explored on the day."
And Yan recalled how the scene in the movie of Zsasz talking to Harley Quinn after she is tranquilized and gloating over all of his scars, was tweaked because of a suggestion made by Messina on the day of shooting.
"Originally Harley was meant to be hung upside down and tranquilized," Yan said. "And I give every credit to Chris because he said, 'What if I just move her and manipulate her like a rag doll?' And I said, 'That is way more interesting.'"
In a movie that has a high bar when it comes to outrageous moments and off-the-wall performances, Messina as Victor Zsasz is one you soon won't forget.
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