If you are looking for actors who are dedicated to their roles, there may not be a better example out there than Jared Leto. Leto has transformed his body and mind on several occasions, and as you'll read below, the results can truly be alarming. Like the time he ballooned up 60+ pounds to play the killer of John Lennon and then didn't eat solid food for 10 days, losing 20 pounds in those days.
If you think that was extreme, just wait until you hear about the things he did to truly get into the character of The Joker. In fact, when talking about it, co-star Will Smith said
"Jared went full Joker. The rule, generally, is never go full Joker, but he really set the tone. He wasn’t playing with it, he was dead serious. As an actor, he was going in… he really jarred [us].”
You'll learn what prompted that reaction, and much more about his time on Suicide Squad below.
But there is more to Leto than just an actor. Leto's band, 30 Seconds to Mars, has sold 15 million albums and he has no plans of slowing that avenue of his life down either.
Read below to find out 15 things that only true fans of Jared Leto know about him, and perhaps you'll gain even more appreciation for Mr.J!
15 He Didn't Talk To His Suicide Squad Co-Stars
Below you're going to learn more about the method acting that Leto put into transforming his personality into that of The Joker. But one of the main elements that Leto brought to the character, was the fact that he literally never broke character. Not when cameras were rolling, and certainly not when they were off for the night.
Will Smith recently did an interview with Beats 1 radio where he joked "I've never actually met Jared Leto. We worked together for six months and we've never exchanged a word outside of 'Action!' and 'Cut!' I literally have not met him yet."
When talking about the role, Leto said that "I did a lot of things to create a dynamic, to create an element of surprise, of spontaneity, and to really break down any kind of walls that may be there, The Joker is somebody who doesn't really respect things like personal space or boundaries."
14 He Gave Up Sex For A Role
If you want to sit down and learn the dangers of drug use, perhaps just watch Darren Aronofsky's haunting psychological drama Requiem for a Dream. The movie stars Jared Leto as a heroin addict, and knowing that he was a dedicated method actor, Aronofsky asked Leto to abstain from sex and sugar for 30 days so that he would have a better understanding of what a real craving was. Want to know just how hard this must have been for Leto? He was dating Cameron Diaz at the time!
When talking about his experiences at the time, Leto said "I was in a constant state of hunger. I started fainting when I was on the set. My bone marrow dropped 400 points. My liver f*cked up. I was miserable. It was a painful, dark place, but it was rewarding. I don't know if you've ever fasted, but there were a couple of moments towards the end where I had hallucinations. I'd look up at the sky, and I'd get a feeling of complete serenity."
If that wasn't dedication enough, Leto also lived on the streets for two weeks so he could better understand the life of a drug addict.
13 He Gave Himself Gout
Jared Leto is no stranger to being dedicated to his roles, so when he got the opportunity to play Mark Chapman, the fact that he needed to gain 62 pounds wasn't going to stand in his way.
Leto binged on pizza, but most importantly, melted pints of Haagen-Dazs ice cream that he mixed with olive oil and soy sauce. When talking about the experience with the Guardian, Leto said "Really, it's a stupid thing to do. I got gout, and my cholesterol went up so fast in such a short time that my doctors wanted to put me on Lipitor, which is for much, much older people. Again, though, a fascinating journey."
You can imagine he would have one heck of a life story by the time all is said and done.
12 His Preparation For Dallas Buyers Club
Jared Leto had an outstanding performance in the 2013 movie, Dallas Buyers Club. The movie required Leto to drop 30 pounds to take on the role of Rayon, a fictional transgender woman with HIV. Leto also waxed his entire body for the role, saying that it was arguably the toughest thing about the role. "I waxed my legs. Oh yeah, man, I was a pro. I didn't want that stubble growing back. I waxed my eyebrows, too."
Leto also stayed in character 24 hours a day for the role, leading director Jean-Marc Vallée to say "I don't know Leto. Jared never showed me Jared."
Leto (or Rayon we should say) was outstanding, taking home an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Matthew McConaughey, who also went through a dramatic transformation, took home the Best Actor award.
11 His Roommate Died Of AIDS
When Leto first moved to Los Angeles in 1991, he rented a room in a three-bedroom apartment, and one of the other occupants was a man who was dying of AIDS. Leto, as you just learned, got the opportunity to play a character with HIV in Dallas Buyers Club, and in an interview opened up more about the overall experience, saying "I didn't remember that until I was in the middle of the film and it hit me, I couldn't believe I had this experience with this man who was incredibly gentle. It was actually in the first week of filming that I recalled this and it really affected me in a deep way…He was a wonderful person."
Leto's goal for the role was to be able to create someone authentic, saying "It was my goal to represent a real person, not a cliché and not a stereotype but a real person."
We are sure there are many people out there who have been inspired by him and his portrayal.
10 He Directed A Music Video
Jared Leto has done a lot of impressive things when it comes to his musical career with his band, 30 Seconds to Mars. One thing that you may not know, especially because Leto tried to hide it, was the fact that he directed one of their music videos for the song "The Kill".
The video was a homage to The Shining and also brought in some of the similar visual techniques that Aronofsky used in Requiem For A Dream. When it first released, Leto said it "was directed by an albino Danish man named Bartholomew Cubbins." Dr.Seuss fans may know that this is the name of the main character of the book, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.
When talking about the decision to use the pseudo-name, Leto said "I really wanted people to be able to enjoy and experience the video without having any more preconceived notions or distractions, and just to let it be what it was. It wasn't important for me to lay claim to it in that way."
9 He Advises Against Altering Body For Role
While there is definitely no shortage of roles that Leto has done in which he has altered his body, you may be surprised to learn that he heavily recommends other actors do not go through the same process.
Leto, when talking to RollingStone, mentioned how "Once you gain 67 pounds or whatever I did [to play John Lennon's murderer in 2007's Chapter 27], you're never really the same, even if you lose it, it's really hard on your body. I've had actors and directors call me and say, can I ask you a few things about weight gain? The first thing I say is, don't do it. I'll spend 15 minutes on the phone with anybody, trying to talk them out of doing it. It's like, just put a pillow in your shirt."
Leto also went on to talk about how it is also an incredibly difficult thing to do mentally to yourself.
8 He Had A Movie That Was Direct-To-Video
If Jared Leto wasn't a big enough actor to make you do a double-take, how about the fact that the movie also starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Piven and Selma Blair! To make it even more fun, is it just me, or does Jared Leto look a lot like Zac Efron?
The movie, Highway, was set in 1994 and followed Leto who gets caught sleeping with his boss's wife, who just happens to be a Vegas thug. As a result, Leto and his best buddy (Gyllenhaal) decide to travel to Seattle, and it just happens to also be the week after Kurt Cobain died. Sounds like a movie that's going to be full of shenanigans!
While the movie finished filming in 2000 and was originally aimed to have a theatrical release, it ended up not being released until 2002 and on home video formats.
7 He Loves To Rock Climb
When Jared Leto isn't busy being a global rock star, or an iconic comic book character, you may be able to check him out a few hundred feet in the air as he partakes in one of his favorite hobbies, rock climbing. When doing an interview with GQ, Leto talked more about his hobby, saying
“You know, it’s like when you’re a kid and you see a tree, and you climb it. It’s really that simple. It’s kind of a base response, you see a wall and you want to climb it. You want to test your limits. I never really climb to get to the top. Getting to the top is nice. But I think I climb more because I want to see what I’m capable of.”
When asked if he ever gets afraid, Leto said he can, and added "But fear is good. It’s what compels you. It’s what pushes you up the wall.”
It is clear that he takes a similar fearless approach to his acting career.
6 He Felt Freedom With The Joker
When you get cast as The Joker, it is clear that people are going to compare you to Heath Ledger, and to a lesser extent, the outstanding performance of Jack Nicholson. When talking about the pressure, Leto spoke about Ledger as giving a perfect performance, but also highlighted the value of having a character that has been done so many times, saying "But in a way, the fact that it has been interpreted so many times I think gave me a great sense of freedom and permission to walk down a different path. [while he respected past actors] On the other, this excitement about the opportunity to go and say something else, something new, something different."
5 He Gets Inspiration From Post-Apocalyptic Dreams
To put together not only an incredibly successful acting career but also a music career, you definitely are going to be drawing your inspiration from different avenues.
For Leto, he said one of his main areas of inspiration is his dreams, which are often post-apocalyptic themed. When speaking in more detail, Leto said "It's insane. Things out of science fiction books. Or I'm flying or something over a city The wildest dreams. Hyper-real dreams. The first Thirty Seconds to Mars album was based a lot on dreams. It was about space and dreams. At the time there were so many people screaming about their dads and shit — It was like an indulgent me, me, me thing. There were other things to sing about. I was more interested in imaginative, conceptual stuff."
When you consider the success of his band, Leto's fanbase can only hope he gets a lot more sleep in the near future.
4 He Would Give Up Acting For Music
While you may fall even in more love with Jared Leto as an actor after seeing him in Suicide Squad, hopefully, you also love his music because if he was forced to choose between the two, Leto said there is no doubt in his mind that he would choose music.
This may not come as a huge shock. After all, Leto left the spotlight in the past to focus on his band back in 2000. When talking more about the experience of creating music, Leto said "I think I’m better on stage than almost anything I’ve ever done in my life. That’s where I excel the most. We’ve toured and played so many shows. Years and years and years of touring. I think that’s probably where I thrive the most."
Leto has also said in past interviews that the next album for 30 Seconds to Mars is approximately 80% done and should be due next year.
3 He'd Take The Role Of The Joker Again
If you're leaving the theaters after watching Jared Leto take on the iconic role of The Joker, one of the first thoughts you may be having is "Man, when is Leto going to get a chance to play that character again?"
You may be glad to hear then, that while he is not locked down for any future films, Leto would be ecstatic to take on the role again, saying "I could easily just play the Joker a couple more times and then retire. Because it’s so fulfilling and so creative and it’s so imaginative. It’s really difficult to think about doing anything else!”
He has also been open about the fact that he would love to have a solo film against Ben Affleck's, Batman.
Leto has been open about the fact that the fans' reaction to his rendition of the character is going to be crucial to if he's coming back for future films, so if he wins you over, be sure to show your support!
2 He Was Not Close With His Father
Leto did not have a strong relationship with his father, saying in the past that growing up "It’s really just always been my brother, my mother, and I. And as a kid, I never really knew any different. But when I look back on it, I can now see a single mother struggling and working hard and not having, you know, a lot of luxury around. There was a lot of homemade-gift giving around Christmas times and birthdays and stuff. But again, it was normal. It was the norm."
Considering Leto's brother, Shannon, is the drummer of 30 Seconds To Mars, you can imagine they're still incredibly close. Leto also admitted that he would often be the black sheep in town, but also said, "I never put up with being bullied. I would fight back. Even if I lost, I would fight back."
1 What He Sent To His Suicide Squad Co-Stars
By now, you are well aware of the dedication levels that Jared Leto put into his past roles. So why would his role as The Joker be any different? In order to properly get into the spirit of things, Leto sent his co-workers a variety of disgusting gifts throughout the course of filming Suicide Squad. One that got the most attention was the used condoms and anal beads that Leto sent out to everyone in the main cast towards the end of filming. As well as this, Leto sent Akinnuoye-Agbaje a sticky Playboy magazine, an envelope of bullets to Will Smith and a love letter and live black rat to Margot Robbie.
Leto also said he sent them all personalized poems, written in the mindset of The Joker.
When talking about the used condom, Will Smith said "Jared went full Joker. The rule, generally, is never go full Joker, but he really set the tone. He wasn’t playing with it, he was dead serious. As an actor, he was going in… he really jarred [us].”
Earlier you read that Leto was not afraid to push boundaries as the Joker, looks like he clearly succeeded at that.