Over the next few months, we’re looking forward to finding out more and more about Jared Leto’s approach and method acting-based research for his role as the Joker in Suicide Squad.
Because of his on-set exploits and behaviour now becoming the stuff of legend, his take on the classic Batman villain is undoubtedly the most anticipated movie performance of the year. The actor recently opened up about his experience of bringing the Joker to life with to Entertainment Weekly.
“There are a lot of things. It’s probably better to not get into it but to the Joker, violence is a symphony. This is someone who gets an extreme reward from the act of violence and manipulation. Those are the songs he sings and he is very in tune with what makes people tick.
Leto explained that his depth of research warranted him spending time in psychiatric hospitals, interviewing doctors and spending time with people who had committed ‘horrendous crimes.’
“I did meet with people that were experts, doctors, psychiatrists that dealt with psychopaths and people who had committed horrendous crimes, and then I spent some time with those people themselves, people who have been institutionalised for great periods of time. I guess when you take on a role, any role, you become part detective, part writer, and for me that’s my favourite time of the entire process, the discovering, the uncovering, and the building of a character. Yeah, it’s really fun.”
“It was challenging but it was also fun. He has a great sense of humour, depending on who you ask. [Laughs]”
Leto did admit that he became consumed by the character, suggesting that the lines between Leto the actor and the Joker became increasingly blurred.
“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. You have permission to break rules and to challenge yourself and anyone around you in a really unique way.
“I first started at the beginning, educating myself, researching, reading as much as I could, going back to the source material. And then at a certain point, I knew I had to stop doing that. Because the Joker has been redefined, reinvented many times before. 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.”
Due to being completely in-character the entire time, Leto was unable to participate in some rehearsals, but director David Ayer ensured that his presence was well and truly felt, arranging to have his henchmen drop by unexpectedly and deliver some, uh, gifts…
“I think in the beginning it was important to set up and define our relationship, so to speak. [laughs] There were a lot of things. It was fun. You’ve got to remember doing these things isn’t just about the result, it’s the process. It’s working with Mr. Frost, who is the Joker’s henchman. It’s making the choice and the decision of how am I going to introduce the Joker to the very first people who will meet him.
“So it becomes an exercise as much for me as it is for anyone else. And it’s as much about the process as it is about the results. How do you go about these sorts of things? How do you work with the people around you? It was a lot of fun. The attention to detail and the process that we went through helped to bring a life to the character for me. Those actions and those gestures—the Joker loves a grand gesture. Those were really important. And they were fun. The Joker is someone who doesn’t take things too seriously.”