February 20, 2015

Billboard Cover: Jared Leto on Packing on the Pounds to Play the Joker, 30 Seconds to Mars' Success and Why He's 'Terminally Dissatisfied'

February 20, 2015 9:00 AM EST

"Do you mind if I eat a little?" Jared Leto asks. "I'm trying to gain a lot of weight. It means I have to eat every couple of hours -- and I'm terrible at eating a lot." Leto, 43, is sitting on a battered circular couch in a cavernous white room on the ground floor of his Hollywood Hills home. A takeout container filled with vegan tacos sits before him. Leto's accessorized with red-and-purple socks, a woolly ski hat and a red fanny pack, for a look that is more Phish parking lot than red carpet. His beard and hair extend to Old Testament length.

Leto's packing on the pounds because he has been cast as the Joker in the all-star comic-book supervillain movie Suicide Squad, which starts filming in April for a 2016 release. He gained more than 60 pounds to play Mark David Chapman (assassin of John Lennon) in 2007's Chapter 27 and starved himself to play a junkie in 2000's Requiem for a Dream. "It can be an incredibly rewarding, but also destructive, thing to do," he says of yo-yoing between weight classes for a role. "Your body changes forever." He has had a lot of actors call him for advice on extreme weight regimens, he says, "and I always try to talk people out of it.

Actors and musicians have long coveted each other's careers. But today, when they leverage their brands to break into the other field, these hopeful hyphenates do better than one might assume they have any right to: Jennifer Hudson has an Oscar, Jack Black's Tenacious D won a Grammy, and Carrie Brownstein might be the funniest person in the history of indie rock. Leto, however, is arguably the leading double threat. He won a best supporting actor Oscar in 2014 for portraying the transgender, HIV-positive Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. As a musician, he has led rock band 30 Seconds to Mars to 2.4 million albums sold in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. (The act, which has yet to re-sign with a label after breaking away from Virgin in 2014, is spending March playing 14 shows in Russia. "We do the same thing in Germany, Italy, France," Leto says. "We play 20 dates in 20 different cities.") He's also a director and a film editor, not to mention a tech entrepreneur who founded the video platform Vyrt and was an early investor in Nest, which Google bought for $3.2 billion in 2014. "Many, many actors have tried to cross over into music-land," says Irving Azoff, Leto's manager and chairman/CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment. "The reason Jared succeeded was he actually gave up his movie career. He's a rock star moonlighting as an actor. And he's got a work ethic unlike anybody I've ever seen." Says Leto, with a grin: "I'm terminally dissatisfied. That's probably part of being an artist."

Leto was born in Bossier City, La., in 1971. He and his older brother Shannon -- now the drummer for 30 Seconds to Mars -- were raised by their divorced hippie mother, who trotted the family around the globe, including Haiti, where they operated a free medical clinic. After a stint at the School of Visual Arts in New York to study filmmaking, Leto moved to Los Angeles at age 21, and soon won a role on the TV show My So-Called Life as Jordan Catalano, the bad boy beloved by Angela Chase, played by Claire Danes. A few years later, Shannon joined him in Los Angeles. Leto's epiphany: "No one has to give you permission to make music or make art."

Leto believes he has more skill as a musician, just because "I've been onstage more hours than I've been in front of a camera." And music has proved more lucrative than movies. "I've never made money from films," he declares. "It's a challenge to make money from music these days -- that's one of the reasons I've been really entrepreneurial."

He takes pride in 30 Seconds to Mars being self-sufficient, making videos and even issuing tickets with its own team. "All our digital marketing and social media was done in-house before people even knew what those terms were," he says. The band's fan group, which calls itself "The Echelon," holds an annual international convention (Echelon Conference: The Gathering) and has raised funds for disaster relief in Haiti and Japan. (Fans also mobilized in 2014 to vote more than 3 million times in Billboard's "Fan Army Face-Off," in which the band ultimately placed second.)

Continue reading on Billboard and be sure to buy this issue HERE!


Miran_LoveLife_ said...

I live in the Netherlands so i can't help you but know you can do this! Believe in yourself and your children! Your time will come! And your children will be proud of you and learn that If you want something you need to work for it! They will love you for that! I wish you all the best and have Faith in a better future! Your time will come! I know it! Love 💋 Miran_LoveLife_

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