June 09, 2017

Oscar-winner. Rock star. Style icon. Is there anything Jared Leto can’t do?

Posted 15 hours ago

Jared Leto made a three-word resolution for 2017. ‘Don’t. Waste. Time.’ He raps his fist on the table to emphasise each word. He has been reading a book by the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca on the ‘shortness of life’, he explains, his turquoise eyes shimmering under the California sun. ‘It’s incredible that this guy lived a couple thousand years ago and you read it and it sounds like someone who’s alive right now. We’re on borrowed time. We only have so much energy. It’s important for me to spend it really wisely.’

If Leto, 45, has been pissing around up to this point, you worry what he might accomplish when he gets serious. He has spent a career diving head first into roles — as teen idol, oblivion-seeking hedonist, method actor, emo frontman, rock-climber, start-up founder, fashion plate — and always landing on his feet.

He won an Oscar for his turn as an HIV-positive transgender woman in The Dallas Buyers Club in 2014. Soon, he’ll add Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited Blade Runner sequel to a CV that includes Fight Club, American Psycho and Requiem for a Dream. His most acclaimed roles arrived after he disregarded all Hollywood counsel and spent four years touring with Thirty Seconds to Mars, the band that he started with his brother, Shannon, back in 1998. It stands out among actor side-projects in not being embarrassingly crap, selling 15 million records of pleasingly histrionic arena rock and entering the Guinness World Records for performing 300 shows in one tour. He’s currently mixing their fifth album. ‘It’s easy to write four songs a day, the real work is editing it all down,’ he laments.

Leto also serves as chief Instagram muse and confidant to Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, and managed to pull off a lilac violet dressing gown at its recent cruise collection show. Today he’s in Carrera ski shades (he’s the brand’s 2017 ambassador) and a ripped T-shirt by the cult Parisian label Enfants Riches Déprimés. He was an early investor in Uber, Airbnb, Nest and Reddit, and in 2011 founded the live-streaming service VyRT. He scales 3,000ft cliff faces in Joshua Tree National Park to wind down from this. And even his tomfoolery is next-level — he once sent some anal beads and a dead pig to Margot Robbie and the rest of his Suicide Squad castmates to get in the zone to play The Joker in the twisted superhero film.

You might put his industriousness down to his veganism or his recent disavowal of stimulants. ‘I do not dive lightly into the abyss any more,’ he says. He mostly credits his artist mother, Constance, who raised Leto and his brother with help from her own parents after their father walked out when Leto was a baby (he committed suicide when Leto was eight). His grandfather was in the US Air Force so the family moved around a lot — and Constance later joined various artistic communes. ‘She encouraged me that a creative path is a worthy one. It was really brave of her to do that. The creative path is one that is fraught with imbalance and uncertainty, self-consciousness, fear and doubt.’

It was also as a child that he first read Frederich Nietzsche. ‘The Will to Power is such a fascinating thing,’ he says. ‘I think we’re probably more responsible for the definition of ourselves than most of us would think. Probably. A great deal of the world thinks that… they may not have as much… authority in their own lives as they do.’ He chooses his words with exquisite care. ‘But I have found that we are… very responsible for our stories. Yep.’

Continue reading on ES Magazine.

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