Jared Leto Explains the Motivation Behind His Joker in 'Suicide Squad'

The actor is ready to shake things up.

Jared Leto Explains the Motivation Behind his Joker in 'Suicide Squad'
Empire Magazine

Why so serious?

Jared Leto posed with a stern face for the new issue of Empire Magazine and gave everyone the first head-to-toe look at his rendition of the Joker in the forthcoming Suicide Squad. The full costume is drastically different from those worn by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's Jokers.

Leto's slicked back green hair and no shoes and no shirt policy are definitely a unique take on the infamous Batman nemesis. The purple cane and snakeskin trench coat contrast well against his blue Arkham Asylum-issued pants. Despite Leto's withering stare and heavy collection of tattoos, his Joker still comes off as a more glamorized version of the notorious villain.

In the interview with Empire Magazine, Leto detailed the physical and psychological ramifications that came with depicting the Clown Prince of Crime. Although Leto is known for his method acting, constantly staying in character around his co-stars evoked a multitude of emotions he was not expecting. “There was definitely a period of . . . detachment,” Leto stated. “I took a pretty deep dive. But this was a unique opportunity and I couldn’t imagine doing it another way. It was fun, playing those psychological games. But at the same time, it was very painful, like giving birth out of my prick hole.”

Will Smith, who played Deadshot, discussed Leto's dedication to his role in Suicide Squad. “Not a single word exchanged off-camera. He was all in on the Joker,” he said in an interview with Beats 1.

Jared Leto Explains the Motivation Behind his Joker in 'Suicide Squad'
Empire Magazine

Of course, pranking his Suicide Squad cast mates was part of the fun for Leto. He called Jim Parrack— who played the Joker's henchman, Jonny Frost—with orders to fill a backpack with nails. “I was just thinking that the Joker would probably just say, ‘F— you,’ and hang up,” Leto stated in the same interview with Empire Magazine. He also sent Margot Robbie, who portrayed Harley Quinn, a black box with a rat, and Will Smith received some bullets.

Bringing a fresh take to the classic villain was essential for Leto. He wanted to do something unexpected and memorable. “I always get the sense that the Joker may be much older than people think,” he explained. “It’s something different. If you don’t break rules, you’re not going to strike new ground. I think I’ll be cooling down for the rest of my life.”

Suicide Squad will hit theaters on August 5th. What's your take on Leto's re-imagining of the Joker? Does it remind you a little bit of Prince?

Jared Leto Explains the Motivation Behind his Joker in 'Suicide Squad'

I'm the TV Editor at Zimbio. My interests include books, pop culture, and Colin Firth.