Following in the maniacal footsteps of Heath Ledger was never going to be an easy task for Jared Leto. But as the Joker in Suicide Squad, he's been doing his darnedest to turn the killer comedy up to 11, with antics like delivering a dead pig to his fellow cast members and sporting a wild new look.
In an interview with EW published last week, Jared Leto and director David Ayer revealed some of the method behind the madly controversial new getup of the latest Joker. Ayer said:
“The Joker has a lot of different looks, sort of built from the looks throughout the history of DC Comics but with a new sort of flair and flavor on him so he does feel like a modern-day gangster, because…he’s always been a gangster.”
He was attempting to pay homage to the morphing of the Joker's costume throughout the ages. There's no shortage of these; the criminal mastermind has had countless reconfigurations in graphic novels, on TV and in movies since he first appeared in the comic book Batman in 1940.
Leto expanded on what Ayer said by crediting him with the idea of the inky etches that crawl up his torso and over his forehead. He said:
"You know David was specific with tattoos. They were his idea but there was a lot to play with. Who knows what will end up in the final film?"
"David had some very specific ideas. As far as the look of the Joker, it was a collaborative process. There were things I brought to the table and things David brought to the table and it was a mashup of both of our sick and twisted minds. There were specific things that he liked and wanted and I was there to help bring them to life in the best way I could."
So there you have it. The tattoos were Ayer's idea because he wanted the Joker to look like a modern criminal.
I'm not sure which heavily tattooed 21st century mobster Ayer had in mind but it is true that tattoos have become de rigueur in the last few decades. In 2006, 40 percent of US adults aged aged 26 to 40 had at least one, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Other than his inkings, Leto revealed in rather nonspecific terms how he approached the character.
"We knew we had to strike new ground. There had been such great work that we knew we had to go in a different direction. So you had a kind of direction from the very beginning, knowing that you can’t go that way, so you have to head this way. That was really helpful. But the Joker is fantastic because there are no rules. The Joker operates from instinct.
"He became a real person. I don’t know if person is the right word. I think the Joker lives in between reality and another plane. Kind of a shaman in a way. It’s a very intoxicating role to take on."
The tattoos have polarized fans. They include: "Damaged" stamped on his forehead; a jester image on his chest; a robin on his right bicep; a deck of cards on his left collarbone; "J" on his left cheek; a smile on his left forearm; and "ha ha ha" everywhere. Dissenters created GIFs like this beauty:
"I think the fun thing about it is when people have done it in the past, there is some spirit of the Joker essence that they keep, but they either build upon something or tear something down and start again at the beginning.
"For me, I knew once I had gone through the process of educating myself, I had to throw everything away and start from the beginning and really build this from the ground up. It was a transformative process. There was a physical transformation. There was a physical conditioning."
The permanence of the character's tattoos show how his insanity is indelible, incurable, and that he will continue to wreak havoc until the end of his days.
Watch The Trailer:
'Suicide Squad' will be released on August 5.
Do You Love Or Hate The Joker's Tattoos?