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SYFY WIRE Peacemaker

Peacemaker's dad is the WORST! James Gunn & Robert Patrick dissect Episode 4's big twists

James Gunn & Robert Patrick breakdown just how bad Auggie Smith really is.

By Tara Bennett
Peacemaker Season 1 PRESS

Is Christopher Smith’s (John Cena) father the worst TV dad ever? This week’s new episode of Peacemaker, "The Choad Less Traveled," certainly makes a strong case against August "Auggie" Smith (aka White Dragon) being nominated for Parent of the Year.

In fact, writer/director James Gunn tells SYFY WIRE that two of the biggest challenges in crafting the series were writing Project Butterfly team member Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) as authentically as possible, and Auggie Smith as despicably as possible.

"There were some things that I was dealing with in this show that were a little bit different," Gunn explains. "It was writing a gay, Black woman as one of the leads, and really getting feedback from friends of mine and people who are lesbians, or Black, or both to make sure that all of that stuff was okay.

"And it was very hard to write Auggie, because Auggie is such a piece of s*** racist," Gunn continues. "I didn't want to pull back on who he was as a racist, and to make him this McDonald's-lite version of what a racist is, which is what you would normally see in television shows. But I didn't want to serve his bulls***, either. That to me was the most delicate stuff in the show that I really was careful about and tried to do the best that I could to be sensitive and also be authentic at the same time."

Auggie in all of his evil glory is brought to life by actor Robert Patrick, who knows plenty about embodying villains. He's played many, but was particularly effective in that role terrorizing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong as the T-1000 in Terminator 2. But even with that diabolical benchmark, Patrick tells SYFY WIRE that all others pale in comparison to Auggie.

"He's a horrible guy, which is really easy to play... which is odd," Patrick says with mirth.

Patrick cites one specific example from the episode that's the definition of evil: the scene where father and son sit down, and Auggie admits loving his other deceased son more, right to Chris’ face.

Because they shot that scene first for the episode, Patrick says he was able to lean on his long relationship with Cena to land the devastating impact. "We had a lot of things working in our favor," he remembers. "John and I had known each other for about 20 years, so we had a chemistry. And James did such a wonderful job of writing Auggie, so the scene just flowed. We shot the rehearsal and it just flowed from there."

Without lifting so much as a finger, Patrick says the moment pummeled Chris' heart. "I know enough that words hurt, so you just have to realize the impact you're having on somebody because you know how hurtful it is."

Actor Freddie Stroma, who plays Adrian Chase (aka Vigilante), also got to sit across from Patrick’s Auggie in this episode. In fact, Chase embarks on an ill-considered plan to get put into the same prison as Auggie so he can wipe out the hateful old man just to make Chris feel better. It doesn’t exactly work out as Chase intended, but Stroma says it was a meaningful moment to do that scene with Patrick.

"I mean, he's scary," Stroma laughs. "He could have just turned into mercury and killed me at any moment if he wanted to."

And when the big fight does kick off, Stroma says it was so much fun being able to have Chase walk into it from a position of looking like a lamb to the slaughter. "Knowing that he's Vigilante and he's a badass is quite a nice feeling going in," the actor enthuses. "I just know exactly where I need to go, and that's where I'm going to go, and I'm perfectly fine."

When asked to explain the effectiveness of Vigilante’s bizarro plan, Stroma says, "It's funny because it's hard to understand what is going on in Vigilante's head a lot of the time."

But in this case, Stroma says the scenario cements just how much Chase thinks of Chris and their friendship. "At that point, he is going to do whatever he can to help out Chris."

And just the mere mention by Leota of how awful Auggie is enough to prompt extreme action from Chase. "I'm like, 'Okay, best friend... off I go!'" Stroma laughs. "And it’s fun doing that because what you definitely know about Vigilante is that Peacemaker is everything to him."