Betsy Paterson interview: ‘Peacemaker’ visual effects supervisor
“Working with James Gunn!” declares visual effects supervisor Betsy Paterson when asked what one of the highlights of working on HBO Max’s “Peacemaker.” For our recent webchat she adds that Gunn is “a great guy to work with, he’s just got such a focused, clear vision of what he wants that it just makes it easy and a joy to bring to life.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Peacemaker” was created by writer and director Gunn, who wrote all eight (and directed five) episodes of the outrageous action superhero comedy/drama, based on the DC Comics character of the same name, as a spin-off from his 2021 hit blockbuster “The Suicide Squad” in which John Cena co-starred as the cocky Christopher Smith (otherwise known as the titular superhero). “Peacemaker” is set after the events of the film, in which Cena reprises his role as the superhero with a heart of gold, alongside co-stars Danielle Brooks, Freddie Stroma, Chukwudi Iwuji, Jennifer Holland, Steve Agee and Robert Patrick.
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Fans flocked to the series when it premiered on HBO Max earlier this year, with viewership increasing with each episode leading up to the season finale, which broke the record for the highest single day viewership of an HBO Max original episode ever. “Peacemaker” has also received overwhelmingly positive reviews, scoring a coveted “fresh” rating of 94% at Rotten Tomatoes, with the website’s critical consensus reading, “John Cena’s still in solid form as Peacemaker, leading a bloody good time that gives writer-director James Gunn full permission to let his freak flag fly.” The huge success of the first season prompted the streamer to renew the show for a second season, for which Gunn plans to write and direct all of the episodes.
The series opens with Peacemaker discharging himself from hospital after recovering from the injuries he suffered during the events of the film. He joins the mysterious A.R.G.U.S. black ops squad “Project Butterfly,” who are on a mission to identify and eliminate parasitic butterfly-like alien invaders who have taken over human bodies around the world and appear hell-bent on global domination. Over eight blood-splattered and wickedly profane episodes, we learn more about Peacemaker’s origin story, his flaws and insecurities, while also getting to know his newfound family of misfits. It’s a riotous adventure full of laughs and some unexpected heartfelt moments in between, culminating in a thoroughly satisfying finale in which Peacemaker saves the day.
The visual effects team led by Paterson navigated months of pre-visualization and post-visualization work to help build the world within the series, including the animated gorilla, the all-CGI character Eagley (the loyal bald eagle and Peacemaker’s best friend) who needed to look as photoreal as possible, and the impressive butterfly aliens and their enormous sacred “cow” creature.