Jared Leto on Resolutions, Method Acting and How His ‘The Little Things’ Character Is Like The Joker

Jared LetoDeadline Studio at Tribeca Film Festival, Day 3, Arrivals, New York, USA - 27 Apr 2019
MJ Photos/Deadline/Shutterstock

Academy Award winner Jared Leto credits his success in the entertainment industry to several factors – one being stubbornness. “I’ve been really fortunate, and you know, I’ve just been really stubborn,” he revealed on Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast. “I think eventually, people are like, ‘OK, well, fine. He’s here, we might as well just let them hang around for a while.’”

Leto, who has also found massive success in the music industry with his band 30 Seconds to Mars, joined the final Awards Circuit Podcast of 2020 to discuss his role in the upcoming thriller “The Little Things,” but also discussed whether he does New Years’ resolutions, Mars Island, his upcoming role in “Morbius” and whether we’ll see his Joker again. Listen to the podcast below!

“The Little Things” stars Denzel Washington and Rami Malek as detectives trying to track down a serial killer in a small town. Leto plays Albert Sparma, a local who may or may not be the killer. Leto admitted he initially wasn’t interested in the project.

“I thought I’ve explored this territory too much, time for new adventures,” he said. But a conversation with writer-director John Lee Hancock changed his mind. “I just kind of fell in love with a guy. I mean, he is an amazing person. And I’m with Denzel Washington and Rami Malek and John Lee Hancock; I thought, ‘How can I not be a part of this incredible opportunity?’ And I’m really glad that I did. Because it was it was an absolute adventure.”

Even after winning the Oscar for his turn in “Dallas Buyers Club,” Leto says he can still be intimidated by his co-stars, including Washington. “If he walked in the room,  it’s still ‘Denzel Washington’ to me. It’s not like, ‘Hey, what’s up Denzel.’ You know, he’s ‘Mr. Washington,’” Leto joked. “I just have a lot of respect for him. It’s not easy to do what he’s done. And what he’s done is he’s been great in every single movie he’s ever made.”

Leto also spoke about his run as The Joker in “Suicide Squad,” drawing comparisons to his current role. “There are a few very few characters that you play that have absolutely no rules, you know, that you could just go to town,” he said of the iconic DC role. “Sparma reminds me a little bit of that character as well in that he’s just a little outside the box. He’s someone who says everything that he thinks, basically. And he always is surprising. He’s very playful. And I found him actually quite funny as well.”

Leto added of Albert, “He could be a good guy or a bad guy, but he’s a fun guy!”

Playing such a role did require a lot of research on Leto’s part and for him to go to some dark places. Known for diving deep into his roles – he gained 60 pounds to play Mark David Chapman in “Chapter 27” and played multiple pranks on his “Suicide Squad” costars – Leto addressed how he feels about the term “method actor.” Though every actor has their own method, the meaning of the term can differ for everyone.

“I appreciate the term, I think it’s a little cloudy, the definition. And it, it could also be really pretentious as well,” Leto said. “I was thinking of it as my job to show up and do the best work that I can. It’s my job to show up, do whatever I can, to be over prepared. And to deliver. It’s also my job to show up and, you know, be a pleasure to work with. And, and, and, and to be collaborative, and to have a good experience on set.”

Leto is set to have a busy 2021, as he will also be appearing in “Morbius,” where he plays a scientist whose cure for a rare blood disease grants him a form of vampirism. “[It’s] a Jekyll and Hyde story that’s just big and fun, and sometimes is a little scary, which is, I think, different for that genre,” he revealed. “And I’m excited about it. That should be a big, fun popcorn movie.”

“The Little Things” comes out Jan. 29 in theaters and on HBO Max.

Also on this episode, “Miss Juneteenth” star Nicole Beharie and the film’s writer/director Channing Godfrey Peoples are interviewed by Variety film awards editor Clayton Davis. Godfrey Peoples’ feature directorial debut stars Beharie as Turquoise Jones, a former Miss Juneteenth pageant queen who carves out her own sense of freedom after her dreams to leave her Texas hometown were deferred once becoming a single-mother.

Godfrey Peoples explains how she was inspired to write the film and tthe two discuss the challenges and the educational component it serves now. They began by discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the film’s roll out this past June. “Miss Juneteenth” is currently available to watch on demand.

And finally, we end the year by checking in with Ken Jeong and Joel Mchale, the “Community” buddies who are hosting a New Year’s Eve special for Fox. 2020 was a dumpster fire, and Jeong and McHale hope to give it the send-off that it deserves. The year wasn’t all bad for Jeong, the “Masked singer” and “Masked Dancer” panelist who also hosts “I Can See Your Voice,” all for Fox. And McHale got in on the Joe Exotic frenzy with a “Tiger King” special for Netflix, and he has his own game show, “Card Sharks,” at ABC. Together, they also host a podcast, “The Darkest Timeline,” in which they reminisce about “Community” while talking about the shit show times we live in.

Variety’s Michael Schneider recently spoke to them about New Year’s Eve, and the interview was as big of a train wreck as you might hope. “Fox’s New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast 2021” airs live coast to coast on, you guessed it, Dec. 31

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, hosted by Clayton Davis, Jenelle Riley, Jazz Tangcay and Michael Schneider (who produces), is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every Thursday.

This episode is dedicated to the memory of Dave McNary.