The third installment in DC Comics’ shared movie universe (referred to by Zack Snyder as the DC Expanded Universe, or DCEU) should prove to be a unique one, as it will focus on a team of supervillains rather than the heroes who oppose them. As momentum steadily builds towards the summer 2016 release of Suicide Squad, fans are eager for every bit of news concerning the film.
The A-list cast of Suicide Squad is set to take on an eclectic group of villains, with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and Deadshot (Will Smith) leading the way. Easily the most scrutinized character in the star-studded affair will be Jared Leto’s Joker, whose inclusion in the film was a source of controversy from the very beginning. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Clown Prince of Crime in The Dark Knight was beloved by critics and audiences alike, and by the time Suicide Squad hits theaters, it’ll only have been eight years since the character was last seen in theaters. Ledger earned a posthumous Academy Award for his work in the film, so it’s safe to say that Leto has a tall task ahead of him.
Outside of the brief glimpse at the character fans were given at the end of the Comic-Con trailer, we know very little about the Joker’s role in the film, nor do we know how well Leto has fared with his most high-profile role to date. Thankfully, Will Smith’s appearance on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 radio show earlier today gave us a bit more insight. After announcing updates on his upcoming world tour and discussing his career trajectory, Smith was asked about his first foray into the comic book world. Smith described the film as “insane” before going into further detail on his impression of Jared Leto’s Joker. Check out the full interview below (the Suicide Squad talk occurs around the 15:45 mark):
Here is the most interesting bit from Smith’s discussion about his co-star:
“I’ve never actually met Jared Leto. We worked together for 6 months and we’ve never exchanged a word outside of ‘Action!’ and ‘Cut!’ We’ve never said ‘Hello,’ we’ve never said ‘Good day.’ I’ve only ever spoken to him as Deadshot and him as the Joker. I literally have not met him yet. So, the first time I see him will be ‘Hey, Jared. What’s up?’
Not a single word exchanged off camera. He was all in on the Joker…I’m looking forward to meeting him.”
Smith’s comments on Leto’s method acting pretty much fall in line with what we’ve heard from co-star Margot Robbie, who said she was “petrified” of him. Though some may be concerned about an actor taking such an extreme approach to a role (keep in mind that director David Ayer actually employed a therapist on set), this seems to be an instance where such a level of dedication is actually a job requirement. The Joker is one of the most dangerous villains in comic book history, and quite possibly the craziest. In order for an actor to give a worthy portrayal of such a maniac, it makes sense that he would have to push himself so close to the deep end. And in a film where it seems that the Joker will be surrounded by crazies, this could be a great way for Leto’s star to shine.
With the release of Suicide Squad still a ways off, fans should expect to hear a lot more stories like this over the coming months. Leto’s “all in” portrayal of the Joker could very well make or break this film, but it should prove to be a memorable performance either way. Whether or not you approve of the new Joker, you can’t help but admire Leto’s dedication to the role.
Suicide Squad opens on August 5th, 2016.