Now, when Jared Leto was announced to be playing The Joker in the upcoming Suicide Squad, many fans were a little concerned about an actor so well known for his good looks playing a character largely defined by the absence of them. The Joker is, after all, a twisted, disfigured psychopath - so a certain amount of concern about the distinctly handsome Leto playing him isn't too surprising.
However, as the weeks and months have passed since the announcement, more-or-less everyone seems to have slowly but surely warmed to the casting. After all, Heath Ledger was largely known for his looks before taking on the role in The Dark Knight - and look how fantastically that worked out. What's more, Leto's career has largely been made up of insanely committed performances - suggesting he's more than capable of bringing the necessary dedication and intense, Ledger-like preparation to The Joker.
In a recent interview, though, Leto revealed that that preparation for the role might just be a little...unexpected. Specifically...
Leto Is Gaining a Whole Bunch of Weight for the Role
Yup, that's right - as Leto told Billboard:
"I'm trying to gain a lot of weight. It means I have to eat every couple of hours -- and I'm terrible at eating a lot."
Now, Leto is no stranger to embracing extreme body alteration for a role, having dropped a huge amount of weight for Dallas Buyers Club...
...and previously having gained a huge amount for Chapter 27 (so much, in fact, that he reportedly developed Gout)...
...but despite his proven track record with doing potentially dangerous things to his body, this still raises a pretty big question about his portrayal of The Joker...
Why Is Leto Gaining So Much Weight?
After all, the comic-book Joker has traditionally been pretty darned slender, with even Jack Nicholson's older portrayal keeping the villain relatively slim...
So, why is Leto planning on gaining so much weight?
Well, it seems to me it's most likely one of two things:
1. Leto Is Trying to Seperate His Portrayal from Heath Ledger's Performance
After all, there's really no competing with Heath, so perhaps he's planning on playing The Joker in a sufficiently distinct way to avoid most comparisons.
2. Leto Is Gaining Weight - But Only to Get Muscular
After all, his Joker is widely expected to be imprisoned at the start of the movie - could he be gaining weight in order to build up his muscle mass, giving his Joker a more physically intimidating, prison-yard sort of look?
Either way - it's going to make for an intriguing performance.
One which, thankfully, seems set to be influenced by the fact that
Jared Leto Totally Gets How Much The Joker - and His Comic-Book Heritage - Matters
As he told Billboard:
"The opportunity to take on this nearly Shakespearean character -- that's what graphic novels and comic books are becoming, right? [He's] this beautiful disaster of a character -- what a big challenge."
Which is...pretty much exactly what I want to hear from him - an understanding of both the mythic importance of the character, and the vital (and central) role in modern culture that comics now take.