Actor and musician Jared Leto has never hesitated to physically transform himself for a film performance. Most recently, Leto shed upwards of 30 pounds for his role as a transsexual AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club. However, Leto did experience a much more extreme body transformation for another film part back in 2007.
For his role as Mark Chapman in the biopic Chapter 27, Leto put on a whopping 67 pounds to play the unhinged Chapman, who murdered John Lennon on December 8th, 1980. The film chronicles the murder and explores the damaged psyche of Chapman, who was motivated in part by an unhealthy fixation on the character of Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye.
The 42-year-old Leto recently admitted he may have gone too far for this particular role, and that the weight gain was excessive, causing a multitude of health issues for the talented actor. “Really, it’s a stupid thing to do.” Leto explained. “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.”
Leto further discussed what compelled him to accept such a part. “I had some reservations because I love everything John Lennon ever did. But in the end I wanted to explore a specimen embodying the total failure of humanity, just walk down this brutal path again.”
The 30 Seconds To Mars front man did eventually shed the excessive weight through a demanding touring schedule with the band, although he has suggested the risk to his health may not be worth it in the future.
Leto is clearly attracted to roles that require a certain amount of sacrifice and dedication. In addition to Dallas Buyers Club and Chapter 27, the actor also lost significant weight to play a drug addict in Requiem for a Dream.
The sacrifice has certainly paid off both artistically and critically for Leto, as he has been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and has already won a Golden Globe for his work in Dallas Buyers Club.
Leto recently engaged in a lively exchange with an unidentified woman at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival regarding his portrayal of the character Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. It was suggested that Leto did not deserve an award for his performance because he was a man playing the role of a transgender woman. The actor handled the heckling diplomatically, even inviting the woman backstage for further discussion.