Tick tock! Tick tock! The countdown clock is officially on with only four more days until Suicide Squad is unleashed. And as much as you might think that Jared Leto would be nervous, or at least feel the pressure of seeing his tattooed portrayal of the iconic Batman villain, The Joker, debut on the big screen… he seems anything but.
The actor may be completely aware that the Joker character may be 75 years old, and portrayed by such legendary actors as Jack Nicholson and the late Heath Ledger, but Leto explained that – at least in this incarnation under director David Ayer – there are “no rules,” when playing him.
It might sound like the opposite of what fans would expect, but Leto explained at the film’s premiere in New York City that as famous and iconic a villain as he may be, the insanity of Joker means almost every decision is a valid one for the actor in the part:
“This is a character that… has absolutely no rules. You can do whatever the hell you want to [and] there is no good or bad take. There is no right or wrong answer. [That’s] really really rare and intoxicating.”
Still, there are some expectations that come with the role. Before set photos and trailers revealed the new look(s) of the Joker in Squad, Leto seemed to be viewing the villain with the respect he deserved, referring to him as a nearly-Shakespearean antagonist. But with the character now revealed, and the film set to release, Leto breaks him down to the basics – and what fans can expect when they hear that signature laugh for themselves…
“The character is completely insane [and a] madman with green hair and a great smile. I think the Joker is so much fun. That is what is infectious about [him]… When I got asked to play the joker I didn’t really have a big gregarious laugh personally, so I was a bit terrified. This is a guy who’s laughing, and is laughing in a way that is very unique. So I worked on it, worked on it, worked on it and came up with something that is… very strange, I have to admit.”
Few would disagree with that description, since nearly every single glimpse of Joker seen in marketing, or his pained, strained laughter has intrigued fans more than it’s given them apprehensions. But if there’s one thing that seems to be dividing Leto’s fans – or those with feelings on ‘method’ acting in general – it’s his decision to remain in character, even ‘tormenting’ his fellow cast members with strange, disturbing, or disgusting gifts. While those reports might be exaggerated, Leto did reiterate that the ‘gifts’ weren’t a way for him to antagonize the cast as much as Joker may oppose them in the film… it was just to develop some interaction with them. Or, as Leto puts it: the gesture was “a chance to create a dialogue with all these crazy people… we had a lot of fun with it.”
The comment helps clarify just how much energy Leto put into finding the character of the Joker, since his strange gestures an hand-written poems helped him understand how Joker felt about each of the other characters. It clearly worked, since Leto stayed in character for the entire shooting of Suicide Squad, and now seems more than ready to play the role again in a solo Batman movie or Suicide Squad sequel. That kind of enthusiasm and dedication doesn’t disappear overnight – a fact driven him by Leto in a single statement: “Yeah… [the Joker] changed me forever.”
Fans and critics will be united in their hope that the result was worth the effort, and the possible sequels and appearances that may come as a result. And the time remaining to find it out once and for all is shrinking by the hour…
Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash and Batman solo movie are currently without release dates.