There are coworkers from hell—and then there's Jared Leto. The Suicide Squad actor's techniques for staying in character have been making headlines for months. Known for going Method–fully immersing himself in a character, even off-set–Leto might have been expected to take on some of the Joker's qualities, but...animal carcasses delivered by henchmen? Sending your co-stars anal beads? You'll forgive us for insisting that Leto take the office orientation program more than once before we let him share our cubicle.
But when you watch Leto's haunted, inhabited performances in movies that range from Requiem for a Dream all the way to this week's Suicide Squad, his Method acting ways start to make more sense, even if they still have you saying, "He did…what?" Here are 10 of Leto's biggest commitments to the pursuit of the perfect character.
1 | He gave his Suicide Squad Castmates bizarre gifts…
With The Joker being one of modern film's most famously replicated characters–Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger have both played the iconic role–it's no surprise Leto felt the need to go deep to stand out.
But staying in character for the entire shoot meant castmates bore the brunt of his Method ways. Leto sent Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn a love letter in a box with a live black rat; co-star Will Smith received an envelope full of bullets. Viola Davis said that Leto sent a henchman to drop a dead hog off to his castmates, and by Leto's own recent admission he sent "everyone" used condoms and anal beads. "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," he told E!. "The Joker is somebody who doesn't really respect things like personal space or boundaries.”
2 | And never spoke to them once…
As Will Smith told Beats 1 radio, Leto was so in character as The Joker that he never once broke from his role, even after the cameras were off. "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.”
3 | He gave up sex for Requiem For a Dream…
While playing drug addict Harry Goldfarb in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, it was rumoured that Leto, who was dating actress Cameron Diaz at the time, gave up sex for two months. Then, to recuperate and gain back the weight he'd lost playing Harry, Leto allegedly shaved his head and ate fish he'd caught on the beach in Portugal–but hey, who hasn't done that after a tough work week?
4 | And lost 25 pounds…
It wasn't just sex that Leto gave up–he also did a lot less eating. The actor dropped a shocking 25 pounds to give his character an emaciated frame. While his endurance paid off, with his performance garnering rave reviews, the actor told The Independent that it came at a price: "I was in a constant state of hunger. I started fainting when I was on the set." Health troubles ensued: "My bone marrow dropped 400 points. My liver fucked 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.”
5 | And lived on the streets for two weeks…
To really embody Aronofsky's vision of a drug addict lost in life while stumbling through Brooklyn, Leto tried living on the streets of Brooklyn. As Leto put it, "It was fascinating to get that close to drug addiction, and heartbreaking to see what people go through.”
6 | He gave himself gout while playing John Lennon’s killer in Chapter 27…
While preparing to play Mark Chapman, the disturbed Beatles fan who assassinated John Lennon, Leto gained 62 pounds via the usual pizza and pasta gut-busters, as well as melted pints of Häagen-Dazs ice cream mixed with olive oil and soy sauce for maximum bloat. While Leto's role was praised in an otherwise forgettable film, it came at a cost-including being in a wheelchair for the pain. As he told the Guardian, "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.”
7 | Then went on the Master Cleanse
Ah, the consequences of Method. To lose all the weight he gained playing Chapman, Leto went on a liquid diet, eating no solid food for the first 10 days. Master Cleanse proponents would immediately have recognised the particular concoction he took. As Leto told Jimmy Kimmel, "I've been fasting ever since. I've been doing this very strange, like, lemon and cayenne pepper and water fast. I didn't eat any food for 10 days straight; I think I lost 20 pounds that first 10 days.”
8 | He directed a music video using a pseudonym
When directing the music video for "The Kill," a song Leto recorded with his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, he first claimed that the video's director was "an obnoxious Danish albino named Bartholomew Cubbins." Leto would later tell YRB that his reasoning for using the name of a Dr. Seuss character was to protect the music video from his celebrity. "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 dropped weight again for Dallas Buyers Club
To play Rayon, a transgender woman, in his Oscar-winning turn in Dallas Buyers Club, Leto dropped 30 pounds (are we sensing a theme here?) and waxed his entire body from head to toe. Just as he's done on most sets, Leto stayed in character the entire time he played Rayon and maintained a strict grooming schedule. As Leto put it, "I waxed my legs. Oh yeah, man, I was a pro. I didn't want that stubble growing back. I waxed my eyebrows, too.”
From: Esquire US.