As the long awaited Suicide Squad finally arrived in theaters this weekend, fans and critics alike have been giving it mixed reviews. While many critics may have judged the film harshly, many fans of the DC Extended Universe and comic book movies in general have praised the movie, mainly for the film’s characters which include the new arrivals of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, and many more to the big screen. While fans loved the introduction of legendary DC comics characters who previously never graced live action movies, another aspect of the film criticized by many, whether positively or negatively, was the return of the Joker who was brought back to life by Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto.
Upon accepting the role as the Joker in Suicide Squad, Jared Leto was aware of high expectations fans would place on him as his performance would likely be compared to the live-action Jokers before him; Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and Cesar Romero. All previous interpretations of the Clown Prince of Crime have been hailed for their own reasons, and many can agree the most recent performance in Heath Ledger’s Joker was the greatest, setting a very high standard among fans for Leto’s Joker only eight years later. As a way of performing as this legendary character in the best way possible, Leto turned to method acting to ensure a great performance. While many actors and actresses have often used method acting to feel as if they are one with the character they are playing, Jared Leto used this method to feel as if if actually is the Joker, even while he is not in front of the camera.
Since Suicide Squad first began production many months ago, stories circulated the internet pertaining to Jared Leto and his method acting as the Joker on the set. Many cast members have mentioned Leto’s insisting of others on set to not refer to him as Jared Leto, but rather call him Mr. J or other names related to the Joker. Will Smith even went as far as to say while on set for six months, he never met Jared Leto- the only discussions on set were between Deadshot and the Joker. Most recently, Suicide Squad‘s costume designer, Kate Hawley, discussed Leto’s method acting during an interview with comicbook.com.
“There’s a sh–load of these characters for a start and when you’re having dialogue with people to protect in emails and things, you have a code and it goes onto call sheets and everything else like that. But then some of them end up with three. Even when Jared came, we had to refer to him as Mr. J or Mr. Smiley. It’s kind of entertaining and when you’re going ‘oh, we have to have a fitting with Mr. J.’ It’s like, should we put our bullet-proof vest on because he’s been totally method all the way through and it has provided a lot of entertainment and genuine fear. He’s brought a whole punch-like quality to it.”
As one can expect, it was likely frightening witnessing such an evil and terrifying character such as the Joker not only while in front of the camera but behind the scenes as well, while no filming is taking place. However, Jared Leto’s method acting while performing as the Joker is not the first time this has been done with the character. Before he began filming The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger spent approximately a month alone in a hotel room or his apartment trying to figure out the personality of his interpretation of the Joker. He would spend much of his time alone trying to perfect his laugh while also reading many different versions of the character in comics as well as watching many movies featuring psychopaths, such as A Clockwork Orange. During a 2007 interview with Empire, Ledger described his method of preparing to play the Joker, saying:
“It’s a combination of reading all the comic books I could that were relevant to the script and then just closing my eyes and meditating on it. I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices — it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath — someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts. He’s just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown.”
While both actors used method acting, although in rather different ways, it can be said both actors resulted in great performances as a result of their way of creating their own distinct version of the character and bringing him to life on the big screen. Heath’s Ledger’s legendary performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight earned him an Oscar, proving to fans it is possible for actors in comic book movies to receive high recognition. Taking into consideration the possibility of Jared Leto’s Joker appearing as the main villain in a Ben Affleck directed Batman solo film as well as Leto’s excellent acting skills and obvious dedication to the role, it is likely he will receive his own awards in the near future.
Fans can now see Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad, which is in theaters everywhere.