Jared Leto takes his acting jobs very seriously. And not serious in a sense where he is just putting in long hours on his craft like most actors do and going home at the end of the day. He technically never leaves his craft. His role as the Joker in the upcoming Suicide Squad film is one of the most anticipated characters for 2016. Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger have also played the iconic Joker character, so Leto knew he had big shoes to fill.
According to the New York Daily News, many of Leto’s co-stars believe that they have never met the man yet, despite working with him for the past six months on the movie. While Leto has been there in the physical sense, the cast and crew never got a glimpse of the 43-year-old from Bossier City, Louisiana. Instead, they got the same Joker between takes and on breaks that audiences will see when Suicide Squad is released August 5, 2016. Leto’s co-star, Will Smith, who plays Deadshot, spoke on his relationship with Leto.
“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. So, the first time I see him will be ‘Hey, Jared. What’s up?’ He was all-in on the Joker.”
While it may make for strange conversations on set and after filming, this kind of devotion often leads to outstanding performances. According to EW, Heath Ledger kept a journal as the Joker when preparing for the Dark Knight. According to Ledger’s father, Kim, this was a crucial part of getting ready for the role.
“He pretty well locked himself up in a hotel, in his apartment, for a month or so, to sort of galvanize the upcoming character in his own mind. That was typical of Heath on any movie. He would certainly immerse himself in the upcoming character. I think this was just a whole new level.”
Whether or not Leto can match Ledger’s iconic performance remains to be seen. While Leto was certainly not his usual charming self, he did attempt to bond with his co-stars as the Joker would. He sent co-star Margot Robbie a rat, which she is apparently cherishing and keeping as a pet. He also sent Will Smith a letter with some bullets. While the contents of the letter are not available, it can be assumed that it is probably pretty creepy. The purpose of the gifts was to show his co-stars that he cares about them and is happy to be working with them, in his own way as the Joker.
While Jared Leto has taken his roles very seriously in the past, it remains to be seen how his role as the Joker ultimately affects him mentally. For his role in the Dallas Buyers Club, Leto apparently lost 40 pounds and did not break character during filming. Co-star Matthew McConaughey claimed that he never met the real Leto until the premiere.
Before Ledger took the role of the Joker in the Dark Knight, former Joker Jack Nicholson apparently warned him about the part, according to Fox News. While Nicholson has never really elaborated on what he meant, it is apparent that he may have went down the same dark path that Ledger did while preparing for the part. The preparation and transformation into the Joker ultimately caused Ledger to have sleeping problems, for which he took prescription pills. He eventually died of an overdose.
Since Jared Leto has gone through difficult transformations in the past for roles, he is likely to bounce back just fine after his difficult role as the Joker.
[Images via Victor Boyko, Jan Hetfleisch, Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images]