In order to prepare for his widely-panned performance as the Joker in 2016's Suicide Squad, Jared Leto sent his castmates “gifts” of live rats and dead pigs in order to get into character. But perhaps the most method thing he could have done was throw a temper tantrum and launch a doomed-from-the-start plan to kill a project that had nothing to do with him.
Luckily, a few years after his failure to effectively portray a villain, Leto has reportedly gotten to the core of the character type and is now able to very successfully understand the point of view of a megalomaniac who inconveniences a lot of people because of a petty personal vendetta. A recent Hollywood Reporter story claims that Leto was so upset by Todd Phillips’s new Joker film, he allegedly attempted to have his people kill the project, and when they failed to do so, he fired them:
“According to sources familiar with Leto’s behavior, when the Oscar-winning actor learned of the Phillips project, he not only complained bitterly to his agents at CAA, who also represent Phillips, but asked his music manager, Irving Azoff, to call the leader of Warners parent company (it’s unclear whether it was Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes or AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, depending on the timing). The idea was to get Warners to kill the Phillips film.”
Sources also told the Hollywood Reporter that Leto believed CAA should have let him know about the Joker film sooner and subsequently fought harder for his own Joker project, which would have been some sort of lighthearted Joker and Harley Quinn murder rom-com. But while the studio was not initially on board with Todd Phillips’s vision for the Joker, they were not happy with Leto’s gifts to his castmates or, ultimately, his take on the character:
“It turns out that the studio wasn’t thrilled with these efforts, says a source with knowledge of the situation. And it seems the director wasn’t that pleased with the resulting performance: In the final cut of David Ayer’s ensemble antihero movie, Leto’s Joker got only about 10 minutes of screen time.”
Watching Jared Leto confidently assume he could easily parlay his Oscar win into a reputation-cementing turn as the joker only to have the public and, apparently, even the studio respond with a resounding “What the fuck is this?” was its own fascinating origin drama of hubris and self-defeat. With his outsized amour propre and closet full of zany costumes, Leto has been a bumbling supervillain in the making for years. And I, for one, am quite ready for the next installment.