Jared Leto. Picture: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian
Leto not just a pretty face
Film’s favourite male model Derek Zoolander might describe Jared Leto as “really, really ridiculously good looking” but don’t write off the actor, musician and director as just another pretty face (with amazing hair).
Three weeks ago his passionate and eloquent speech when he collected the best supporting actor Oscar for his stunning performance in Dallas Buyers Club proved that the 42-year-old is no himbo.
That keen intellect shone through when Leto sat down for a chat at a West Perth hotel this week before his band, US rock trio Thirty Seconds to Mars, kicked off their Australian tour at Challenge Stadium on Tuesday night. The group also features his older brother Shannon on drums and guitarist Tomo Milicevic.
Leto admitted he was “so f…ing grateful” his brain worked at the Oscars. “That spotlight is so bright it blasts any signs of intelligence right out your ears,” he told AAA. “That moment really is the prize. It’s not the statue, it’s not the pats on the back, it’s being able to stand on stage in front of the world and say something that means something to you and other people.
"That’s the trophy; that two minutes you get to talk to the world."
His impressive speech paid tribute to “all the dreamers” struggling for independence in places such as Ukraine. In between the Oscars and flying to Australia, Thirty Seconds to Mars toured Eastern Europe, including an “unforgettable” concert in Kiev, where the rocker visited Independence Square.
"Kiev is intense," Leto said. "You land at the airport and there are militia, there are roadblocks, makeshift barriers … there are monuments to people that have lost their lives."
The world tour in support of latest album Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams stretches beyond 165 shows. That’s a walk in the park compared with Thirty Seconds to Mars’ previous tour, a record-breaking odyssey of more than 300 concerts around the globe in 2010-11.
Given Leto takes a hands-on approach, directing music videos as well as the 2012 documentary Artifact, about the band’s battle to free themselves from a $30 million lawsuit filed by their record label, it’s amazing he finds time to act.
Dallas Buyers Club was his first film role after a five-year hiatus. Leto described his movie work as a mixture of “sadistic and masochistic” performances that usually see him undergo a remarkable transformation. While he lost weight to play the drug-addicted HIV-positive transsexual Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, Leto gained 30kg to play John Lennon’s killer in the less successful 2007 film, Chapter 27. After playing Claire Danes’ love interest in TV teen drama My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, Leto has found work in “dramatic, darker” films where his characters often come to a violent end. He was bashed beyond recognition in Fight Club, murdered with an axe in American Psycho and disfigured in Requiem for a Dream.