NEW YORK — For the second time in the 2000s, an actor has savagely, insanely and brilliantly brought the Joker to life as the ultimate villain in a comic book movie. First it was Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight; now it is Jared Leto in Suicide Squad.
Ledger famously and tragically won a posthumous Oscar for his performance in the second film of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Leto makes his Joker debut Friday when David Ayer’s Suicide Squad opens — and the 44-year-old Leto is jacked up, wildly excited and totally apprehensive about the fan reaction!
“I hope it’s an introduction (of the Joker) … and not the end!” Leto says in an exclusive one-on-one interview — the only interview he has granted this day to any journalist from the U.S. and Canada. “Because I could easily just play the Joker a couple more times and then retire. Because it’s so fulfilling and so creative and it’s so imaginative. It’s really difficult to think about doing anything else!”
Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment has yet to make pronouncements. But Leto has his own singular goal — getting The Joker into the proposed standalone Batman movie starring the current Dark Knight actor, Ben Affleck.
“I think it would be incredible to see Batman and the Joker go head-to-head! This Batman and this Joker. I mean, I don’t know, that might be too much! But that would be fun.”
The Louisiana-born Leto had a lot more to say about the fun of playing the character and the fate of the Joker in the DC Extended Universe. “You are my first interview since I played the Joker,” Leto says. He has been bursting at the seams about it since spending more than five months rehearsing and then shooting Suicide Squad in Toronto in 2015.
During the entire shoot, Leto remained “method” and stayed in character on-set, starting with the rehearsal period. While I personally sat in the Joker’s fuchsia car one day (and only a stuntman could drive this thing because you could barely see over the dashboard), I never saw Leto as the Joker on-set. He kept away from all visiting media then in Toronto. Today, in the bowels of Moynihan Station in lower Manhattan, we are surrounded by a display of Suicide Squad costumes, artifacts and parts of the set shipped in from Toronto. But the actor has now shed The Joker and is all Leto — a thoughtful, articulate and quietly shy man with piercing blue eyes. Here is what he had to say:
Why is the Joker so iconic as a villain?
“I think the Joker is iconic for a number of reasons. He was the perfect villain from the start for Batman’s hero. You obviously wouldn’t have the success of the Joker without Batman. They are two sides to a coin. Batman is the stoic, restrained, thoughtful, black-and-white character, figuratively and literally. He is stiff, a suit of armour without colour and much celebration. And the Joker is the complete opposite of that!”
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