I'm pretty sure everyone is familiar at this point with the 'controversy' surrounding Jared Leto's iteration of the Joker for the upcoming Suicide Squad. Picking up this role already comes with a lot of pressure given the origins of the character and the well-loved Heath Ledger version we saw in The Dark Knight back in 2008. It was always going to be a tricky move, but people weren't really all that annoyed about Leto's casting until the first promo photo was revealed and I think we all remember that.
Love him or hate him, like Heath Ledger before him Leto has chosen to really commit to preparing for the role through method acting, just as he did during Dallas Buyers Club and Requiem For a Dream. Method acting involves a total dedication to the role on and off-set, to the point where the lines between the actor and the character start becoming blurred.
You've heard of Daniel Day-Lewis, right? Method acting is his jam. When playing cerebral palsy-sufferer Christy Brown in My Left Foot, he spent the entire shoot in a wheelchair and demanded everyone call him Christy, even his daughter.
On The Shoulders Of Giants
Staying constantly in character as the Joker though? That can't be good for you. Ledger died tragically a few months after completing filming on The Dark Knight and, though it's probably inconsequential, there has been speculation about the toll the role took on his mental health.
In 2013, five years after his death, German documentary series Too Young to Die ran an episode entitled Heath Ledger - Liebling der Götter/The God's Favourite about his life and death. The episode featured his father, Kim Ledger, looking through the diary Ledger kept when he put himself in confinement in his apartment/hotel room for weeks to try get into the mindset of the Joker. His father describes it as the "Joker's Diary".
Suicide Squad wrapped last month, but during filming there were numerous reports about Jared Leto's aggressive approach to his method acting, remaining in character even when not on camera and scaring his co-workers. It may have resulted in an impressive performance, but some of the methods to his madness seem a little... intense.
Worst. Santa. Ever.
Adam Beach, who plays Slipknot in Suicide Squad, spoke about the now infamous gifts Leto sent to his co-workers.
"He sent [Margot Robbie] a nice love letter with a black box with a rat in it—a live rat. It was beautiful. Then he sent bullets to Will [Smith] with a letter."
He also sent the cast a video message alongside a - ah - dead hog. Nice. (Better keep that away from David Cameron there.) Apparently the video had a pretty profound affect on Beach though, as he went on to describe how Leto totally embodied the character.
"Basically, what [Leto] said was, 'Guys, I can’t be there but I want you to know I’m doing my work as hard as you guys'. The video he showed is in character. It blew our minds away. Then we realised that day, this is real.
He encompasses this beautiful man and he shows it in, 'Hello, how are you?' but in a instant, he goes to psychotic behaviour where you're in fear. But you love him because he has both sides."
Consistently In Character
Jai Courtney, who portrays the amusingly named Captain Boomerang, backed up Beach's take on Leto's characterisation, claiming that he's never seen him out of character the whole time they've been on set.
Additionally Scott Eastwood (who is playing a mystery character oooh) said he was afraid to go and talk to Leto, given the intensity of his character.
"I was sort of afraid to approach him Because I did not want to mess with his thing going on. But I knew him before. I met him before he was The Joker. I just met him as Jared Leto. So I did not know if I wanted to mess up his thing."
When Even Harley Quinn Is Scared, You Might Be Doing It Right
Meanwhile Margot Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn, is so used to Leto as the Joker that she gets scared of him when he's not in character. Which I guess says a lot about how far he's gone with his dedication to the role. Speaking to the NY Daily News last month she said:
"At first it was kind of confronting (to be up close) but now I’m so used to it, I think if I ever saw him out of makeup now I would be really confused. Actually, I saw him out of makeup once and I was actually petrified of him. I was too scared to go up and didn’t know who that person was, and when he got back into his makeup I was far more comfortable."
Jared Leto certainly seems to have impressed/terrified the rest of the cast, but will it pay off in theatres when Suicide Squad hits August 2016? What do you think?