Text by: Luigi Locatelli
Jared Leto is 44, but he seems like he’s in his twenties, which is truly another of his diabolical – or angelic – performances. Maybe the most remarkable of this gentleman of many faces and many bodies who at least since the 1990s has walked on the wildest side of Hollywood and the cinema system, embodying and reincarnating variously damned and damnable characters, and astonishing everyone, admirers and critics, audiences and media. As if he had made his life itself into an endless script, deciding like a dandy to transform it into a work of art. Not of the aloof variety found in museums, but a postmodern, mutable, polymorphic creation, somewhere between Body Art and the practice of installation. Often with overtones of excess and deconstruction of normality. If it makes any sense to put an actor into the “punk” category, Jared Leto would be the one to whom to apply it. Disturbing, shape-shifting, always above or below average, if by average we mean a common sense of things: ever since he played a young junkie in the late 1990s in that masterpiece known as Requiem for a Dream, a film for which he lost 30 pounds, applying the tenets of method acting. Beyond the Peter Pan image he likes to convey for himself, Jared is actually an ironclad professional, dedicated to the point of obsession. He chooses the parts that convince him, not the mere career boosters. He is always ready to take the plunge in risky projects like Oliver Stone’s  Alexander, where he was the heavily made-up Hefaestion, the effeminate lover of the great commander. A flop that had a high price for all, especially for Leto, who got knocked out of the big leagues for quite a while because of it. But in the meantime, in his undiminished ability to morph into otherness, he changed his identity again, shifting into music with his group Thirty Seconds to Mars, leading to 15 million albums sold and live performances all over the place, including Italy. Then the return, the resurfacing, the triumph, in keeping with the cherished American paradigm – only those who fall can rise again. Jared rose with Dallas Buyers Club, where his transgender Rayon, infected with Aids, pierced the hearts of spectators everywhere, gaining him an Academy Award as best supporting actor. Total redemption. Leto becomes a denizen of magazine covers and talk shows, like that of the imperishable Ellen DeGeneres. Yet he has never succumbed to mainstream, because his love for freak characters keeps him out in the cinema badlands. Hence the latest metamorphosis, here and now, is in the blockbuster Suicide Squad as Joker, the mad-and-bad guy with a devilish leer already masterfully portrayed in the past by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. With other super-villains, Leto/Joker forms a special team hired by the powers that be to fight even badder bad guys, in a sort of replica of the Dirty Dozen for superhero sauce. And Leto steals the show with that face, decorated and deformed as in a Munch Scream. But just when we think we’ve finally got him pigeonholed in yet another oddity, he charges back, all cleaned up, driven by the best intentions, an ecological friend of nature, as the director of a series of short films called Great Wide Open, a tribute to the amazing beauty of America’s National Parks. This is the enlightened face of Jared Leto, out of the darkness, but still in the wild.

Jared Leto as Joker