In the decades of his existence, the Joker is a character that has undoubtedly made his mark on pop culture. Not only has he graced the pages of countless comic books, but he’s also been represented by a myriad of different actors in both live-action and animated form. Each time a new iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime hits the big screen, it’s a big deal.
Actor Heath Ledger put to film what many believed (and perhaps still believe) is the definitive live-action version of the Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT. In the film, Ledger portrayed what can only be explained as a psychopathic terrorist with a penchant for chaos.
When Jared Leto took on the role of the Joker, only eight years after Ledger’s unexpected death, there were some big shoes to fill. This was a fact that wasn’t lost on the rock star and Oscar-winning actor, and he expressed as such in a recent profile from Rolling Stone.
“Heath did an impeccable, perfect performance as the Joker. It’s one of the best performances ever in cinema.
“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. 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.”
Leto made a good point there. While both he and Ledger may technically be playing the same character, the reality is there are few crossover traits between the two versions. While Ledger’s version was more of a terrorist, Leto’s Joker is more of a gang leader — one who seems to be much less of a loner than THE DARK KNIGHT’s Joker. But if there was one common trait between the two, it would have to be the violent tendencies inherent in the character.
“If the Joker did this interview,” Leto told Rolling Stone, almost out of nowhere, “he’d definitely castrate you and make you eat your own testicles. Just for fun. That’s if he liked you.”
This wasn’t a tendency that came natural. In preparing for the character, Leto took to YouTube to watch random acts of violence that have become the cache for the character.
“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. 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.”
Known for his method acting, Leto became renowned on the SUICIDE SQUAD set for his on-set pranks, including giving what’s been reported as “used condoms” to his co-star Margot Robbie.
Director David Ayer has since clarified those claims, stating:
“Look, they weren’t used condoms. Let’s be real here. They’re removed from their packages, but it wasn’t actually used. And, of course, I was mortified. Like, ‘Jared, put that stuff away â€” get that out of here, what are you doing?’“
All in all, it seems to be a role quite fitting for Leto, a man who lives as both an actor and a rockstar.
“I think you have to have a little bit of madness to take on something like this,” Ayer said. “And his showmanship, knowing how to control a crowd, seemed like an interesting skill set to bring into the Joker.”
SUICIDE SQUAD hits theaters on August 5, 2016.
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SOURCE: Rolling Stone