Jared Leto is a chameleon actor, but when he decided to sign on to Sony’s Spider-verse, he, oddly enough, did not choose Spider-Man’s actual villain Chameleon. In January 2022, the ex-Joker will star in Morbius, bringing the webslinger’s famed villain-turned-antihero to life for the first time. And in a new interview with Variety, the actor says the part was a big change for him. Instead of disappearing into the role, Morbius turned out to be a lot like his real-life persona. To be clear: Morbius is a vampire.
“It was hard for me in some way, because I’m not used to playing roles that are a little bit closer to who I am, day in and day out,” Leto said. “Dr. Michael Morbius is a little closer to the way that I talk and the way that I behave.”
Michael Morbius, Ph.D. and M.D., was introduced in 1971’s The Amazing Spider-Man #101. As most of his stories go, Morbius was born with a rare blood disease, and like many scientists in the Spider-verse, his efforts to cure himself resulted in minor catastrophe. Experiments left him with vampiric powers, including superhuman strength, agility, and enhanced healing, plus a lust for human blood. It’s unclear if Leto shares any of these powers with his new character.
The funny quote is quite reasonable for Leto, who is known for fully immersing himself and disappearing in a role. The actor underwent extreme weight shifts to play John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 and Rayon, an HIV-infected trans woman, in Dallas Buyers Club (for which he won an Oscar). He donned some freaky makeup effects in Blade Runner 2049 and his new film, this week’s The Little Things. And who could forget his turn as the Joker in Suicide Squad? “Going there” meant not just bringing the chaotic energy on set, but behind the scenes. Considering his filmography, a doctor who transforms into a vampire is kind of normal for Leto! Early trailers for the film suggest Dr. Morbius looks, sounds, and moves like the actor when he’s not method acting. Not a bad thing, once in awhile.
“I was interested in this role because he goes on this journey from dying to finding a cure for this disease and becoming incredibly healthy, and then having things change in a way that he becomes monstrous,” Leto said. “You start with a hope and a dream and an idea of something, and you all try to work as hard as you can, in this given amount of time, to make it as good as it can be. And I think it’s the first time I’ve ever starred in a big movie like this in my entire career, so it was new territory. I generally hide out in the shadows.”
Vampires also like the shadows...