Jared Leto Calls Heath Ledger's Joker "One of the Best Performances Ever"

Wednesday, 27 July 2016 - 2:27PM
DC Comics
Suicide Squad
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 - 2:27PM
Jared Leto Calls Heath Ledger's Joker "One of the Best Performances Ever"
Jared Leto is about to debut as one of the most iconic comic book villains of all time--The Joker--in Suicide Squad next week. And it's all the more intimidating considering that he's following Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award. In a new interview, Leto paid tribute to the late actor's take on the character, calling it one of the best performances of all time.

Opening quote
"Heath did an impeccable, perfect performance as the Joker," Leto told Rolling Stone. "It's one of the best performances ever in cinema. I had met Heath before. I didn't know him well, but he was a beautiful person."
Closing quote

Leto seems to understand the responsibility of taking on the role right after Ledger, who died shortly before the movie came out, but says that he feels better since the character has such a long history in both comics and film:

Opening quote
"I think had it only been portrayed by Heath and it was never a comic book, maybe I would have felt that would be inappropriate," Leto said. "But I thought that given the history, it was OK. The good thing about other people having done this is that you know what direction not to head in."
Closing quote

Leto has an infamously method attitude towards his acting roles, and in the case of the Joker, that included watching Youtube videos of actual violent crimes, "until he had to stop himself."

Opening quote
"The Joker is incredibly comfortable with acts of violence," said Leto. "I was watching real violence, consuming that. There's a lot you can learn from seeing it. Not every act of violence is committed with frenzy, either. I remember learning that. People can be calm. They've made their choice and go and do something, and it's not in a frenzy. It's methodical and sometimes even hypnotic and deliberate."
Closing quote

As a result of his method acting, Leto was famously frightening to work with, playing pranks on his fellow cast members involving boxes of bullets, live rats, and dead pigs, to the point that Viola Davis wanted to pepper spray him. But, as Leto says, it could have been worse, at least if they had been working with the actual Joker:

Opening quote
"If the Joker did this interview," said Leto, "he'd definitely castrate you and make you eat your own testicles. Just for fun. That's if he liked you."
Closing quote

Suicide Squad hits theaters on August 5.
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