Jared Leto admits to being “a bit of a snob when it comes to film.”
“If it wasn’t for Marvel films, I don’t even know if theaters would exist,” he says. “It doesn’t seem like there’s room for everyone, and that starts to become a little heartbreaking.”
COVID-19 has only accelerated the moviegoing trend in favor of superhero spectacles and away from (mostly) everything else. In the past year, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Venom: Let There be Carnage” and “Black Widow,” which all feature Marvel characters, were pandemic-era box office hits. At the same time, acclaimed movies in other genres, like “West Side Story,” “In the Heights” and “The Last Duel,” fell flat in theaters.
“I also have gratitude for these movies because they’re keeping cinema alive,” he says in reference to comic book adaptations.
“Morbius,” a superhero tentpole set in the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters, opens on April 1. It’s the third movie starring Leto to play on the big screen since the pandemic, following Ridley Scott’s starry crime drama “House of Gucci” and the neo-noir mystery “The Little Things” (which debuted simultaneously on HBO Max.)
“It’s a privilege to be part of a couple of movies in a row that are supporting cinema,” he says.
Leto refers to himself as a life-long cinephile and fondly remembers childhood trips to independent theaters with his mom. He later worked at a multiplex, but he was fired for “selling dope out the back door.”
“I know how important that was for me as a kid… escaping to the movies. That cultural experience was quite informative and impactful,” he says. “I saw movies in theaters that changed my life.”
Leto was drawn to play Morbius — whom he describes as “a bit of a dark horse, an outsider” — because of the character’s dark and disturbing transformation. When audiences first meet the renowned biochemist Dr. Michael Morbius, he’s dying from a blood disease. But after an attempt to cure himself goes wrong, he turns into an otherworldly bloodsucker with an unquenchable thirst for the living.
“He’s not the quintessential superhero,” Leto says.
Morbius is not Leto’s first attempt at dramatizing a comic book villain. He played the Joker in the 2016 film “Suicide Squad” and again in Zack Snyder’s “Justice League.” He allows that he’d be open to reprising Batman’s notorious nemesis if Warner Bros. came calling.
“Never say never,” he says. “It’s such a great cliche, but I heard Conor McGregor say it again recently. And I said, ‘You know what? You’re right, Conor. You never say never.'”