Jared Leto. Is he a genius, forward-thinking actor who embodies method acting, illustrating extreme level of dedication to his craft? Or is he simply a self-indulgent narcissist who uses the term method acting to excuse deplorable behavior as an expression of art?
Although an actor who polarizes opinion, the answer probably lies somewhere between the two. There's no doubt his alleged antics on the set of Suicide Squad were both a marketing ploy and egocentric. Yet Leto's ability to go above and beyond is something that could make him the perfect casting choice to play art revolutionary Andy Warhol in an upcoming biopic, Warhol.
Casting Leto aside for a second, Warhol's story is certainly apt for the big screen. As enigmatic as he was accessible, a fame worshipper who was both extremely visible and extremely private, Warhol changed the art world forever throughout the '60s and '70s. His art centered around consumerism, his worldview focused on finding the beauty in the extravagant and the mundane.
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Despite being in the public eye, he was openly gay before the beginning of the gay liberation movement from the late '60s and mid '80s. His infamous workplace, named The Factory, was a hedonistic playground of partying, drugs and sex. It featured at the heart of Factory Girl (2007), where Sienna Miller portrayed the tragic Edie Sedgwick, with Guy Pearce portraying Warhol.
Sedgwick's rapid rise and fall wasn't the only tragedy surrounding Warhol. Most notably, in 1968, Warhol was shot by writer Valerie Solanas at his studio. The artist was fortunate not to die; doctors opened his chest and massaged his heart during their attempt to keep him alive, the impact of which he felt for the rest of his life.
Is Leto The Perfect Actor To Do Warhol Justice?
As well as standout moments, though, capturing the nuances of the man himself is paramount, bringing us back to Leto. Granted, the 44-year-old's behavior throughout the filming of Suicide Squad was abhorrent; the study of method acting doesn't give a free pass to send used condoms to colleagues, or dead pigs, or live rats. Talking about his role with Entertainment Weekly, he said:
"I knew I had to be committed as much as possible. I had to be committed beyond belief. And I did what I needed to do to deliver the best I possibly could. There was a lot on the line and I want to do justice for all the work that has been done before."It’s not a part-time job. It’s immersive. It takes over your life and that’s what I needed to do for myself. Other people can show up and are genius but I did what I needed to do to deliver. And we had a good time with it. I think it was exactly what was needed for me, at least."
In many ways, Leto's antics, as well as the recent obsession with method acting in Hollywood, has given skewed the view of what the technique entails. In its purest form — studied by the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Marlon Brando or Gena Rowlands — is about basing a character on truth, and the actor drawing from real life experiences.
That being said, Leto is undeniably a talented and committed actor who has thrown himself into roles his entire career. During the filming of Requiem for a Dream (2000), he took to the streets of New York with heroin addicts. More recently, Leto was outstanding in his role as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club (2013), staying in character from the moment he auditioned until the film wrapped. The performance earned an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.
Warhol certainly has a lot of potential. The talented Terrence Winter (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire) will write the script, having previously written the screenplay depicting ludicrous stock broker Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. Michael De Luca will produce, another with success with biopics, previously working on The Social Network (2010), Moneyball (2011) and Captain Phillips (2013).
If Leto gets it right, he could capture Warhol in a way never seen before. Let's just hope he avoids the used condoms.
Are you a fan of Leto? What do you think of his casting in Warhol?