When actors go method, they go deep. That seems to be a running theme in Jared Leto movies – in most of his parts he’s undergone some kind of metamorphosis that changes his appearance or character completely, from his role as the assassin Mark David Chapman to his latest Suicide Squad appearance as Joker. We’ve picked out 13 of his most varied roles from right across his 25-year career to show how adaptable he really is.
1. My So-Called Life (1994-95) – Jordan Catalano:
Oh Jordan. Jordan, Jordan, Jordan. What a beautiful, moody bastard. As the love interest of Claire Danes' protagonist, Angela, he's one of the show's key characters. It's easy to go through the series thinking Leto's playing him as the strong silent type – then you realise Catalano is really just an idiot. But what a glorious idiot he is!
2. The Thin Red Line (1998) – 2nd Lt. Whyte:
Leto’s performance in this war movie lasts about five minutes in total, but it's sharp and memorable. He plays a minor officer in the US army during World War 2; Whyte is such a minor character that he isn’t even mentioned by name. The gum-chewing young officer is ordered to push his men into a frontal assault, and after two of them die, he orders his whole crew to rush in.
3. Fight Club (1999) – Angel Face:
The third recruit in Project Mayhem – the underground fight-club set up by Ed Norton's narrator and protagonist – pretty-boy Angel Face receives a savage beating from the protagonist after Brad Pitt’s Tyler marks him out as a favourite. Norton’s character beats Angel Face’s features into a toothless, rather less angelic pulp.
4. Girl, Interrupted (1999) – Toby Jacobs:
Here Leto is a totally unsympathetic character. The film stars Winona Ryder as Susanna Kaysen, a patient at a psychiatric hospital. As her uncomprehending and big-bearded boyfriend Toby, Leto tries to take her away, writing off her mental illness and saying they should go to Canada. Yep, he does douchey well too.
5. American Psycho (2000) – Paul Allen:
In interviews Leto has recalled being on set for American Psycho for just two days. His character, the stupidly superior Paul Allen, gets axe-murdered while drunk by Christian Bale's Patrick Bateman, after showing him his flouncier-than-thou business card. It's pretty brutal.
6. Requiem For A Dream (2000) – Harry Goldfarb:
In Darren Aronofsky's psychological drama, Leto plays a tragic junkie, Harry Goldfarb, whose heroin addiction pushes him to further and further extremes. In it, Leto moves convincingly from bliss to desperation and heartbreak: an early career highlight.
7. Panic Room (2002) – Junior:
Like Fight Club this is another David Fincher film, but it's a rather different beast: a thriller. Here Leto plays one of three criminals attempting to get at the valuable bonds left inside a safe in the house. Jodi Foster's character is hiding in the house's titular panic room, where the safe is. Leto's character is brilliantly petulant.
8. Alexander (2004) – Hephaistion:
Certainly not the highlight of Leto's career, but an interesting role nevertheless: he starred opposite Colin Farrell's Alexander as Hephaistion, friend and lover of Alexander The Great. He wore loads of eyeshadow and, for some reason, had to put on an Irish accent to match Farrell's – but he did it pretty well, to be fair.
9. Lord of War (2005) – Vitaly Orlov:
Nicholas Cage and Leto do almost look like they're related in the below picture. In this film about Cage's arms-dealer, Yuri Orlov, Leto plays his kind-hearted brother Vitaly, who becomes a feverish cokehead at the first sign of success and ends up feeling guilty about the effects of their arms-dealing on innocents.
10. Chapter 27 (2007) – Mark David Chapman:
For this role poor old Jared put on 30kg by drinking microwaved ice-cream with soy sauce and olive oil every night, and the film didn't even get a theatrical release. It was about John Lennon's 25-year-old assassin Mark David Chapman. Critics at Cannes Film Festival praised Leto's performance, but its focus on Lennon's killer still proved divisive and reviews were generally negative.
11. Mr Nobody (2009) – Nemo Nobody:
In this cult sci-fi drama, Leto plays three different versions of the 34-year-old character Nemo Nobody, who – Sliding Doors-style – had his future ripped into several strands based on a decision he made as a child. He’s also the 118-year-old Nemo looking back on his confused lives. It's a lot to get your head around but Leto makes it look easy.
12. Dallas Buyers Club (2013) – Rayon:
In the role that won him an Oscar, Leto plays the drug-addicted, HIV-positive trans woman Rayon, who sets up the 'Dallas Buyers Club' with Matthew McConaughey's Ron Woodroof, an initiative that supplied unapproved drugs to those battling HIV. Leto lost 13kg to play the role, worked on Rayon's voice "for weeks" and refused to come out of character during filming. The director, Jean-Marc Vallée said, "I don't know Leto. Jared never showed me Jared."
13. Suicide Squad (2016) – Joker:
The one we're all talking about. Leto's method preparation for this role built up a legendary level of hype around the DC Comics film about villains being forced to do good. His Joker was a maverick, a malicious and hazy presence loitering at the edge of the action. But when he was on camera, he did his job brilliantly, forging a new and intriguing new direction that differentiated him from Heath Ledger's Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight – this Joker was more lithe, more wacky and had a great laugh.