MLB Opening Day WWDC 2023 Dates Meta Quest Pro Hands-On Amazon Pharmacy Coupons iOS 16.4 Trick for Better Sound Narcan Nasal Spray 7 Foods for Better Sleep VR Is Revolutionizing Therapy
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

Peacemaker's Chukwudi Iwuji explains how James Gunn cast him in GOTG3

Peacemaker premieres Jan. 13 on HBO Max. Chukwudi Iwuji, who plays Clemson Murn, is on CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast to discuss his role and working with James Gunn.

Chukwudi Iwuji
If you're a fan of James Gunn, you need to get to know actor Chukwudi Iwuji. He stars in the upcoming Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as well as the new HBO Max series Peacemaker.
Charlie Carter

This story is part of I'm So Obsessed (subscribe here), our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.

One of my favorite films in 2021 was James Gunn's The Suicide Squad. A passionate cinematic retelling of the ridiculous DC comic of the same name, it was funny, action-packed and just wonderful. One of the characters in the flick is Peacemaker (played by John Cena), who's a misguided superhero out for justice no matter the cost. Starting Jan. 13, HBO Max premieres the series Peacemaker, which follows the character after the events of The Suicide Squad. The show was created by Gunn and also stars the Nigerian-British actor Chukwudi Iwuji, who's probably best known for his work as a classical actor.

Iwuji has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has won two Olivier Awards. He's also been in such shows and series as When They See Us, Designated Survivor and The Underground Railroad, and in films like John Wick: Chapter 2. In Peacemaker, Iwuji plays Clemson Murn, a dark ops mercenary who leads a team that includes the Peacemaker. Iwuji was on CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast, where he explained Murn.

"This guy's a former West Point graduate, probably went in with the best intentions into the black ops and stuff and came out the monster he sort of is," said Iwuji. "He's definitely the straight guy in a group of delinquents. It was a real challenge for me not to fall into the trap of having too much fun and just keeping this guy as true to who he has to be. But he also has a really deep emotional trajectory that surprises you, as the series goes on."

As Iwuji was rehearsing the opening sequence for Peacemaker, Gunn pulled him aside to offer him a role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Initially when Gunn approached him, Iwuji joked to Gunn that "this is when you tell me you actually had meant to hire Chiwetel Ejiofor." Gunn said no and explained why he wanted to cast Iwuji. When Iwuji went to do a screen test, it was unlike any audition he's attended before.

"I'm not competing with anyone but, in many ways, myself. By that point, me and him [Gunn] had thrown ideas back and forth, because he really wanted this character grounded. He said, 'The reason is I want you to ground this. And I want your imagination. I want you to ground him in someone human.'"

We have to wait and see who Iwuji plays in Guardians, but the internet has its own theories. Gunn in the meantime posted a picture of the cast of Guardians that included Iwuji, who he describes as one of the best actors he's ever worked with.

You can watch Peacemaker on HBO Max starting Thursday, Jan. 13. Listen to my full interview with Iwuji in the podcast player at the top of this article. Subscribe to I'm So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about work, career and current obsessions.