At this point, it’s probably no surprise that Jared Leto did some very, very weird things to get into the mindset of the Joker for Suicide Squad. And yet, every time he talks about it, things get grimmer.
Rolling Stone has a profile of Jared Leto which covers his whole life as well as his movie and music careers. While it’s full of vaguely infuriating things about Leto — like how he would cheat on his veganism if someone’s mum offered him a homemade cookie and he didn’t want to be rude — the real nonsense is, as always, Joker-based.
There’s a nice moment, where he praises Heath Ledger’s performance: “Heath did an impeccable, perfect performance as the Joker.” He also says that the fact that it was a role with a history of many different actors helped him decide to say yes. And then things get terrifying:
Predictably, Leto’s process got weird fast. He started watching footage of actual violent crimes on YouTube, until he had to stop himself. “The Joker is incredibly comfortable with acts of violence,” says Leto. “I was watching real violence, consuming that. There’s a lot you can learn from seeing it. Not every act of violence is committed with frenzy, either. I remember learning that. People can be calm. They have made their choice and go and do something, and it’s not in a frenzy.” His eyes have gone cold. “It’s methodical and sometimes even hypnotic and deliberate.”
Well, OK then. It’s never unsettling when a man consumes large quantities of real violence and then has “stop himself”. Why would anyone on set — a set where they had to call him by his character’s name at all times — be worried?
Or how about the fact that Leto sent what he calls “used condoms” to the cast? Which, by the way, director David Ayer disputes. (They were apparently just unwrapped condoms.) Ayer still didn’t like it, telling Rolling Stone, “And, of course, I was mortified. Like, ‘Jared, put that stuff away — get that out of here, what are you doing?'” So the man who made his cast punch each other was upset by Leto’s behaviour. Let that sink in.
And yet, the part of the article that is the most uncomfortable is early on where, apparently with no prompting, Leto says, “If the Joker did this interview, he’d definitely castrate you and make you eat your own testicles. Just for fun. That’s if he liked you.”
There’s a point at which this stops feeling like method acting and starts sounding like a man using acting as an excuse to screw with people. Viola Davis should have pepper sprayed him when she had the chance.