Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker in Suicide Squad is already infamous and the movie hasn’t even come out yet. By now, his approach to playing everyone’s favorite sadistic bank robber clown may end up being more notorious than the performance itself. Leto allegedly never broke character, even off set, as evidenced by the weird “gifts” he sent his castmates when they weren’t on set together. While his methods may have been extreme, it’s probably important to remember that he had big shoes to fill. After all, the last man to play the Joker was Heath Ledger in 2008’s The Dark Knight — a performance for which Ledger won an Academy Award. Leto was obviously aware of the standard to which his portrayal would be held against and recently spoke with Rolling Stone about following up Ledger’s performance.
“Heath did an impeccable, perfect performance as the Joker,” Leto said, “It’s one of the best performances ever in cinema.” He didn’t stop with Ledger, though. Leto went on to discuss the effect of playing something of a legacy role had on the way he approached the performance. “The good thing about other people having done this is that you know what direction not to head in.”
It’s cool to hear Leto talk about making the performance his own. When previous performances of any role are iconic as they are, it’s important to do something to distinguish your take from others. It seems that Leto has, at the very least, made the role uniquely his. After all, it’s probably safe to assume that no other Joker actor has almost had a restraining order placed on him by Viola Davis.