ByMissBooMissQuick, writer at

If we remember anything we must remember this: you don’t hire Jared Leto to play it safe.

Leto is the wild card, always. Even when he was 21, unsure of what he was doing in front of the camera, playing a mute boy who sometimes seemed to be on too many of his grandma’s pain pills, yanno, drifting in and out of precious self-awareness on “My So Called Life” -- Leto was and is a director’s actor.

The actor directors know will arrive on set and have a whole series of different contexts and elements to bring to his part - even the little shit bit parts. The actor who was almost too pretty to take seriously so he fucked himself up in a million different ways to show them and us that although his skin is basically poreless-porcelain that he will fucking tear out your heart if you let him and once he knows he has you in the palm of his hand he’ll go ahead and rob you of all your innards too.

Hiring him to take on The Joker meant he’s not gonna come on set to mimic someone else’s work. Or design. He’ll maybe steal some elements here-an’-there in respectful homage - but that’s not why you hire him. You hire him because he is the actor that will gain nearly 70lbs for a month or two to just capture the uncomfortable-in-his-own-skin-and-mind schizophrenic. You hire him because he is the actor that will sleep on the streets of New York, pal around with heroin addicts and junkies who would sell their own mother or their bodies for their next few hours of peace - just so he could be back in the mindframe of desperation and drug addiction. You hire him because he will literally subsist on a few tomatoes and a half of a cucumber - or literally nothing - in order to look & know what it is to feel as if he were dying at 40 (and probably actually, physically dying in the process) to bring life to a character struggling with self-hate, self-acceptance and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in her last months of life.

If we remember anything we must remember this: you don’t hire Jared Leto to play it safe.

That is the actor that’s willing to look at The Joker and develop an original performance that doesn’t reek of someone else’s work or feel like they’re treading lightly because they worry what people will think. I’m sure he does, to an extent, but I’m sure he also just doesn’t give a fuck. And he shouldn’t. The moment you start to give a fuck about outside impressions is the moment the Realness of the character dies for you and the very moment your performance becomes inauthentic. A spectacle.

So hire him because he’ll let you put as many tattoos as you want on him, load his mouth with an obscene amount of metal, scrub out all the lovely pink in his skin to leave him looking like a lab rat who hasn’t seen daylight in decades, shear off and bleach to shit only to turn radioactive all that gorgeous hair he’s been growing for two years that the world’s been coveting unabashedly for just as long - cause at the end of the day - yes that helps remind us, the audience, that this isn’t one of the most stunning individuals on earth before us but a madman. But while that physical shit is alarming and disarming and memorable - that isn’t what will define him in this for us. It’ll be the way he can emotionally and physically morph the feel of his entire being into some sort of new embodiment he’s devised of one of the most unreadable, unpredictable, unapologetic, unsalvageable - but iconic - sociopaths we have in modern pop culture.

Let’s remember too - the only constant in The Joker’s many iterations is his name. The character has been reinvented countless times throughout the decades - and no one reimagining is “wrong” or “terrible” - because each one has had its fans and its own vocal detractors - including Heath Ledger's. Prior to that performance winning him an Academy Award Posthumously and going on to become one of the most recent iconic performances in modern film history, Ledger was dragged across the internet. He had just been seen in Brokeback Mountain playing a gay cowboy and would now not only be working on the Nolan Batman Series - which was quickly becoming beloved within the Comic fanboy community, but taking on The Joker - a maniac with inexhaustible perseverance and a deathwish. The Fanboys could not picture one of the worlds Most Beautiful men giving life to such a delightfully disgusting man. However what he did within the part not only re-energized the franchise, it rejuvenated the idea of what someone could do with The Joker. They could color outside the lines a bit. There were shades of the character there - but it was also a performance entirely unique and charismatic. You could not look away. Ledger's work remains a performance still so highly-regarded that many actors would never be so willing to jump into the same character existing within cinematic folklore due entirely to a contemporary's performance -- unless they felt they could bring something to the character. Would you rather have the shoes of an over-the-top murderer with a fondness for flair and wit, played by some oatmeal actor who has been in a million action films - a cookie cutter, Gap model idea of a rebel - or would you rather have a legit renegade at the wheel? One who left acting for 6 years despite being one of the world’s most desirable men, only to return to the screen in a movie made for $4 million dollars, to come back in heels and a mini - skin and bones…? Come back and fucking slay.

Let’s let Leto do his thing - and know that yes, while unconventional - a forehead tat does not alone an icon make – nor have the capacity to destroy.


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