Jared Leto Praises Heath Ledger’s ‘Perfect’ Performance As The Joker

Jared Leto had huge shoes to fill as he took on the role as the Joker in the Suicide Squad film. The film opens on Friday, so fans will get to judge just how well he does in following the late Heath Ledger, but it seems like Leto is well aware of the pressure that was put on him.

The actor, who has an Oscar for his turn in Dallas Buyers Club, recently praised the late actor’s portrayal in the villainous role. Ledger only appeared as the Joker in one of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films, but it was enough to make a lasting impression. Not only did the actor posthumously win an Oscar for the role, but he also exceeded fans and critics impressions of the Joker’s characterization, which was played by Jack Nicholson and cartoony in comparison.

In an interview with GQ Style, Leto said he didn’t remember “hesitation” in taking on the role, given the shoes he had to fill, but he went on to praise Ledger’s version of The Joker.

“I’m sure that I considered everything when I got the call. But let me say a few things… Heath Ledger: Not only was he perfect as the Joker — perfect.”

Leto didn’t stop there. In fact, he went on to explain just how perfect he thought the performance was.

“There’s not a single frame where he’s not great. Not only was he perfect in that role, but it’s probably one of the best performances, not just of a villain but maybe one of the best performances on film, period. Period. That’s my opinion. And that was my opinion before I got the call. It was a perfect performance, and those are very rare.”

The actor went on to say that he had an enormous amount of respect for the other iterations, but he did note that there was some real excitement in taking on the role. “On the other, this excitement about the opportunity to go and say something else, something new, something different.”

So how did he get into the role of the Joker? According to castmates, Leto was so into character that he wasn’t addressed as Jared on the set. In fact, Will Smith stated that he never met Leto, because he was so in character. That’s not all — the actor, who like Ledger, went method for his role, went on to gift his cast mates in character with disgusting presents that were meant for their characters.

For example, he sent cast members Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje anal beads, used condoms and a pig’s corpse. Smith, who plays Deadshot in the film, also received bullets from the actor.

Although Suicide Squad isn’t faring well with the critics, much like Ben Affleck’s Batman v Superman, many critics went on to say that Leto’s version of the Joker is a highlight in the film. With that reception, what’s next for the Joker? Many fans of the DC Universe want the Joker to go head to head with Affleck’s Batman, and that would make sense, given that these two are arch rivals. Affleck’s Batman does appear in Suicide Squad, so it would be a natural transition from one film to the next.

Leto also agrees with this push as he said that he wants his character to battle Batman.

“I think it would be incredible to see Batman and the Joker go head-to-head! This Batman and this Joker. I mean, I don’t know, that might be too much! But that would be fun.”

That said, we may see a bit of tension between these two early on than expected, as rumors circulated that Leto was spotted on set in London where Justice League is currently being filmed with Affleck.

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[Image via Warner Bros.]