Jared Leto, a versatile actor who starred in two back-to-back Oscar winning movies (Dallas Buyers Club and Suicide Squad), is a top-tier edgelord. He is the personification of Jughead’s immaculate, “I’m a weirdo, ok?” scene in Riverdale’s first season. He is a certifiable Prince of Darkness.
Leto’s made a name for himself for playing off-the-cuff roles. He played the weird dude with bleach-blonde hair and eyebrows in Fight Club in 1999, the Joker in Suicide Squad and the creepy CEO of a dystopian tech firm in Blade Runner 2049. All of his roles scream, “Look at what I can do,” which has led to a fair bit of criticism for the actor. People like to poke fun at Leto for his approach to acting and the roles he takes on, but that’s not entirely fair. He earned the opportunity.
In 2006, Fangoria, the iconic horror magazine, crowned Leto the “Prince of Darkness.” It was a period wherein Leto was celebrating his rockstar status, touring with band 30 Seconds to Mars and starring in Shining-inspired music videos. Leto has simply spent the past 12 years living up to that title.
Here are just a couple of roles that Leto has taken on or is rumored to appear in since winning the Prince of Darkness title, according to IMDB:
- The Joker (Suicide Squad)
- Niander Wallace (Blade Runner 20149)
- The Joker (Suicide Squad 2)
- Ares (Tron 3)
- The Joker (Untitled Joker-Harley Quinn Movie)
- Morbius, the living vampire (Morbius, the Living Vampire)
- The Joker (Gotham City Sirens)
Leto, who openly complained about his lack of screen time in Suicide Squad, is dedicated to playing the prince clown of darkness for as long as he can, apparently. The role changed Leto’s life, the actor told ScreenRant, who also admitted he was drawn to the character for a number of reasons. Leto said:
The character is completely insane [and a] madman with green hair and a great smile. I think the Joker is so much fun. That is what is infectious about [him]... When I got asked to play the joker I didn’t really have a big gregarious laugh personally, so I was a bit terrified. This is a guy who’s laughing, and is laughing in a way that is very unique. So I worked on it, worked on it, worked on it and came up with something that is... very strange, I have to admit.
Leto added that playing a character who can do whatever he wants without having to worry about consequences was an intoxicating offer. He’s a method actor, and that means parts of the Joker’s personality spilled over into Leto’s actual life while filming Suicide Squad. The actor reportedly sent condoms, anal beads and live rats to his costars as deranged pranks, allegedly harassed one of the actors he worked with by calling and ordering roses painted black and generally acted like a bit of a jerk on set. All in the name of acting, naturally.
It’s a total Prince of Darkness move. So is his decision to star in a movie about Morbius, a living vampire who first appeared in Spider-Man #101 in the late 1970’s. The antihero is described as broody and gritty, a madman trapped within his own condition. Think Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk when his heart rate gets too elevated, but with a much darker, lustier vibe. Leto’s not transforming into a monster; he’s becoming a vampire, a fantasy creature literally defined by the strange, seductive and dark vibe that Leto took on in the early ‘00s to win the Prince of Darkness award.
Look, Leto embraces his image. He has a coffin in his living room, and he can’t entirely recall how it came into his possession. His home is decorated with statues dedicated to A Clockwork Orange and Stephen King novels. He defines himself by his “outsider” status, referring to himself in an interview with Variety following his Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor in Dallas Buyers Club as a “dark horse.”
“I always feel that way,” Leto said. “I always feel like the outsider. Even now.”
The persona trickles down to his home, his personal aesthetic to his film choices. The fact that Leto is playing a living vampire haunted by his own monstrosity and stuck inside a world he fears he doesn’t belong to is entirely on brand. He’s an incredibly talented actor and musician — a performance artist as Matthew McConaughey referred to him once — but he’s not walking away from the gritty, tormented characters he loves to play anytime soon. How could he? Off screen he’s a Prince of Darkness, too.