Much like Heath Ledger, Jared Leto is a method actor. The Oscar winner commits to his craft like few others in his business. So when you cast him as The Joker, you don’t get the actor on set; you get the character, as wild and insane as he can be. To know that’s under your control is a daunting task, even for the most professional filmmaker, but David Ayer (Fury), the writer/director behind this week’s Suicide Squad, knew what challenges he faced, and he embraced the chaos. With his latest film finally coming out in a matter of days, Ayer’s revealed the process behind directing the super-villain —not the actor — in the upcoming film.
In an interview with JoBlo, Ayer’s said he directed Leto’s Joker “with caution.”
I’m directing the Joker … You do it with caution. You do it with a lot of respect. I called him Mr. J or Joker on the set. By going at it the way he did, he really raised the bar for the rest of the cast. It really helped make the movie kind of real for everybody involved.
While the process was “absolutely” intimidating, Ayer’s continued to praise Leto’s commitment, ultimately calling his performance “riveting” and “courageous.”
You’re trying to stand on the shoulders of giants. Heath is in the pantheon, it’s an incredible performance. You start with little baby steps. Jared was so courageous in being willing to tackle this. He’s a method actor, which means total commitment. He was one of the first guys to come onto the movie, and bit by bit, I started to see him channel the Joker, and finally when he showed up on set in wardrobe and make-up and in character, it was sort of riveting.
I was there when Margot opened the box and the rat came out. [Laughs] It was interesting. Joker is this anarchic character, the Clown Prince of Crime. These guys all know each other and everybody’s a grownup. It’s just a teeny portion of a much bigger process of bringing that cast together.
We’ll just have to wait until later this week to see if that’s truly the case. Suicide Squad comes to theaters starting this Thursday night, but review embargoes go up tomorrow. Early word of mouth is positive thus far, but the next few hours will be the true test. Incidentally, I see the movie tomorrow night. I can’t wait to see Leto’s performance, among other things, in the much-anticipated super-villain flick.