Jared Leto Opens Up About Playing the Joker After Heath Ledger's Passing
Leto called Ledger's performance 'one of the best ever in cinema.'
Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight was the sort of performance that shakes you to your core, then pats you on the head and reminds you it's all fiction when the credits roll. His death had much the same effect in its surreality. So when Jared Leto found out he'd be the next actor tackling the role in DC's upcoming Suicide Squad, he wasn't immune to the legacy's weight.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, he addressed that weight head-on:
"Heath did an impeccable, perfect performance as the Joker," he said. "It's one of the best performances ever in cinema. I had met Heath before. I didn't know him well, but he was a beautiful person."
But, Leto said, the fact that the character was written in comics long before Ledger's Academy Award-winning performance made it okay:
"I think had it only been portrayed by Heath and it was never a comic book, maybe I would have felt that would be inappropriate," the 44-year-old explained. "But I thought that given the history, it was OK. The good thing about other people having done this is that you know what direction not to head in."
He also discussed the method acting that's gotten him into trouble with other cast members:
"The Joker is incredibly comfortable with acts of violence. I was watching real violence, consuming that. There's a lot you can learn from seeing it," he recalled. "Not every act of violence is committed with frenzy, either. I remember learning that. People can be calm. They've made their choice and go and do something, and it's not in a frenzy. It's methodical and sometimes even hypnotic and deliberate."