Joking Around With Suicide Squad’s Jared Leto

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(PCM) When Jared Leto stepped into the shoes of the Joker, it was no laughing matter. The 44-year-old is stunning and terrifying as the iconic comic book character in “The Suicide Squad,” while making his mark on a role that had previously been nailed by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger.

The Warner Bros. film, which opens on Friday, [August 5], is about a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super-Villains, who are sent off on an impossible mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity.

Best known for his Oscar-winning role in “Dallas Buyer’s Club,” and his role in television’s “My So-Called Life,” Leto is a bit of a chameleon, as an actor.

Leto’s other films include: “Requiem for a Dream,” “Fight Club,” “Panic Room,” “American Psycho,” “Girl, Interrupted,” and “The Thin Red Line.”

At the heart of the movie, is taking a group of renegade criminals being blackmailed into doing a job deemed too difficult for the government’s deepest government agents.

Among the Super-Villains is the Joker’s girlfriend, former psychiatrist, the bad-ass Harley Quinn, perfectly played by Aussie actress Margot Robbie. Clad in girlish pony tails and skimpy outfits, and wielding a baseball bat, the colorful character dubbed ‘Daddy’s Lil Monster,’ provides important comic relief.

“Suicide Squad,” is a fantastic and fun-filled spectacle, with a wild and edgy pulse.

The film is a true thrill ride and a must-see summer blockbuster. It does not get better than this cast led by Leto, Robbie and Will Smith.

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Writer-director David Ayer has brought together a group of award-winning actors and let them loose to transform themselves into a tightly-knit ensemble. The rest of the stellar cast includes: Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman and Carla Delevingne.

The writer of “Training Day,” and writer-director of “Fury,” Ayer also used some unique techniques to get to the heart and soul of these bad-ass bad guys. What ensues is a wild, weird and wicked ride for these anti-heroes who had already found themselves in some insane adventures that landed them shackled in an impenetrable prison.

During a recent press day in midtown Manhattan, the director said it was a challenge to write the Joker, a lunatic who so easily takes to the asylum. “The Joker is a fascinating complex guy, but it was terrifying to work with this character because he’s one of the best-known villains in Western fiction.”

Ayer said that he needed to “be respectful of the legacy of the Joker” and everything that came before. “To understand the core of that character, and not tamper with that, yet at the same time, reinvent the Joker for the new film. Jared beautifully pulled off that high wire act.”

Robbie, who endured both physical and emotional hardship for her role as the Joker’s girlfriend, said that the “emotional stuff” was definitely more difficult. “I was trying to figure out why Harley was so devoted to the Joker, a guy that tries to occasionally kill her,” she said. “That was difficult to get my head around.”

Q: What was it like bringing these characters to life, especially since you seemingly had the most difficult acting job in the whole movie?

Jared Leto: It’s kind of like giving birth out of your pr**k hole.

Q: Obviously, you’ve got my attention, please continue.

JL: I felt I had permission to break all the rules and challenge myself and everyone around me in a way I had never done before. For me, it was absolutely the role of a lifetime. I had so much fun playing the Joker. I could easily just play the Joker a few more times and retire.

Q: So, how do you see the Joker?

JL: He lives in between reality and another plane. It is a truly intoxicating role.

Q: Does the Joker truly love “the adorable and vexing” Harley?

JL: The Joker has a very strong attachment to Harley. No one else really matters very much, but why would they when you’ve got her? What’s the rest of the world? It’s just a game. We’re sharing a wicked dream and having a good laugh.

Q: Some feel you are courageous stepping into the Joker’s shoes?

JL: The Joker is an iconic legend. He’s been around for 75 years, and there are so many variations on the story. The Joker is Mount Everest; one of those impossible ideas where you most likely can’t achieve what you set out to do. It was terrifying and exciting and a total honor to take on this role.

Q: I hear there was a real process and technique to getting you and the other actors into these larger-than-life characters.

JL: Yes. It required some manipulation.

Q: How so?

JL: I was isolated from the others, while the rest of them were bonding and becoming this rather dysfunctional family. I was off steeping myself in the comics, as well as psychopaths and psychiatrists – so that Joker felt deeply different.

Q: How do you put humanity and humor into this movie, which has its dark, comic book and campy elements?

JL: Our director, David [Ayer], was really brave because from the beginning it was clear that he wanted to do something different, he wanted to do something special, he wanted to make something that we would all be really proud of. So, I could get the sense from him that he was willing to go to all lengths to get that, and that was both a little scary, but also very exciting

Q: Tell me more.

JL: David is not only the director, but also the writer of the film, so I was surprised by how much freedom that he gave to everybody to go completely crazy. [Laughter]. But what I thought was really genius about David was that he was always looking for the accident. He was always looking for the mistake and embracing that, and for Margo and I there was a lot of humor, there was a lot of things that I thought were funny in a sick and twisted way and he was really wonderful in that way.

Q: Please take me back to when you found out you were chosen for the role of the Joker.

JL: I remember when I got the call. I had this simultaneous feeling of excitement and dread. As soon as I heard the word “Joker” I knew that I was going to have to dive really deep and go to a place I had never gone before. He’s been interpreted so beautifully, they should almost put a cap on the well and just call it a day.

Q: But you decided to take on this great challenge.

JL: Yes. There was the other side: what else could I uncover? What could I do that hadn’t been done? The side of me that likes exploration and adventure was immediately set on fire by this. So it changed me forever. It was such an immersive, challenging, unique experience going into that rabbit hole. I never thought in a million years that I would have the chance to play a role like this.

Photo credit: Paula Schwartz

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