Once thought of as a pet project for Warner Bros. and DC Comics, the first reports of certified stars being courted for Suicide Squad showed some surprises lie in store. But even with Oscar nominees in the mix, the idea that The Joker - one of the greatest comic characters in history - would be introduced alongside lesser villains was too much to swallow. But the negativity and skepticism ceased when it was confirmed Joker would appear - and that Jared Leto would be playing him.
Distinguished as one of the most devoted and talented actors to avoid the many roles being thrown at him, Leto's casting instantly made Suicide Squad a critical contender, as well as commercial. The actor has broken his silence on the film, crediting the character and quality of modern comics with drawing him to the role.
Leto follows fellow cast members Will Smith (playing Deadshot) and Margot Robbie (playing Harley Quinn) in offering the first hint of what to expect from the David Ayer-directed film. Speaking with Billboard magazine, the Oscar winner/Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman reveals that becoming the infamous Batman villain means a physical transformation, not just a cosmetic one:
"Do you mind if I eat a little?... I'm trying to gain a lot of weight. It means I have to eat every couple of hours -- and I'm terrible at eating a lot."
With production on Suicide Squad set to begin in April, we would doubt that Leto's Joker will be anywhere near his previous role in Chapter 27, for which the actor gained a staggering 67 pounds. Without clarification, it's hard to know if Leto is looking to gain fat or muscle in his role. But we're certain fans will have differing opinions on just how shabby - or how physically imposing - his Joker should be.
What is clear is that Leto has an image in mind for his version of the character, regardless of how small a part he will be playing in Suicide Squad ahead of a potential role opposite Ben Affleck's Batman.
Much of the overwhelming skepticism - or at the very least, unease - surrounding a new actor in the role of Joker is due to his last appearance on film, played by the late Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Beyond the fact that Ledger's Oscar-winning performance was seen by many to be the most impressive spin on the villain yet, his death before the film released led many to believe the public would shy away from a new version so soon.
The show must go on, however, and few actors could be seen as more capable of following the act - and crafting something entirely new - than Leto. The role was reportedly first offered to Ryan Gosling, who rejected due to the long-term commitment, but Leto claims that it's the depth of such an iconic character - and the strength of graphic novels today - that convinced him to take the part:
"The opportunity to take on this nearly Shakespearean character -- that's what graphic novels and comic books are becoming, right? [He's] this beautiful disaster of a character -- what a big challenge."
Leto is certainly off to a strong start in winning the remaining skeptics over to his side; as other cast members will no doubt cite the size of the production or taking part in any superhero film as a compelling factor, Leto singles out the "Shakespearean" characters that some modern comics craft as his interest. Calling the Joker a "beautiful disaster" is as apt a description as any, and it sounds like the actor is fully invested in giving a performance to remember.
What do you think of Leto adding on pounds to play the convicted Clown Prince? Are you interested to see whatever his "beautiful disaster" looks like in action, or do you have concerns about introducing the Joker alongside such a large cast? Sound off in the comments.
Suicide Squad will hit theaters on August 5, 2016.