If there’s one thing that’s become painfully obvious about Jared Leto’s approach to the “hallowed ground” that was the role of the Joker in Suicide Squad, it’s that he went method in ways which were previously unimaginable. To truly embody the character’s twisted charisma both on-screen and off, Leto pulled out all the weirdest stops. From gross gifts to his co-stars to freaky preparation rituals like sleeping in a prison to bringing his character out to spook unsuspecting members of the public who went to see his band, he was off the charts in-character at all times.
Even after everything we’ve heard about his bizarre Suicide Squad set life, the stories of Leto’s Joker games are still stacking up, and at this point, the commitment papers practically write themselves. For all intents and purposes, Leto efforted to actually become the Clown Prince of Crime, a villain who is, in his words, second only to the devil in terms of infamy.
For his latest attention to that pernicious process pile, he’s delivered up an in-character selfie image that is equal parts rattling and confusing. Leto shared this pic of himself donning the Joker’s signature green ‘do, thick eye makeup, prop tattoos, and lipstick, and he managed to capture his own sinister laugh in motion, so it has a dizzying effect which was, no doubt, purposeful. The only thing missing here are those metallic teeth caps, but otherwise? That’s our Joker right there.
The puzzling part of this pic is his emoji associations in the caption, which include a snake, a cactus, a battery, a green heart, and the eight-spoked asterisk. If anyone can make sense of that, by all means, do hit the comments with theories because it seems just as hectic and illogical a collection as anything else Leto’s been reported doing lately. But then, maybe that’s the point? As Heath Ledger’s version declared in The Dark Knight, “I’m an agent of chaos.“
All the effort the Oscar winner has put into embracing the craziness of the character is said to be well worth it because his co-stars have been unanimously singing the praises of his work as the cackling baddie. Will Smith (who plays Deadshot in the pic), for example, has said that Leto was so “all in” as the character on-set that he’s never even gotten to meet the real person behind the make-up yet. Meanwhile, Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) pegged his performance as “pretty impressive,” and Corina Calderon said she was “absolutely mesmerized” by what he accomplished as the character.
Mesmerizing is a good word to describe all of this, really, because even this picture of him is the kind of thing that you can’t quite get a grip on but still can’t look away from, even though it’s unsettling and unstable. Whereas Ledger’s Joker was utterly watchable and stole every scene, maybe Leto’s purpose here is to keep us all on edge and uncomfortable. That’d certainly be a new approach to avoid the whole rinse and repeat effect of picking up an iconic role so soon after it’s been done so well, wouldn’t it? One thing’s for sure: Leto’s managed to make his Joker a true centerpiece of this movie, despite there being so many others to watch for.
Suicide Squad opens in U.S. theaters on August 5, 2016. Next up on the DC Slate is 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 is currently without a release date.