SUICIDE SQUAD writer/director David Ayer talks about Jared Leto's Joker

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Yes, we’re still buzzing over that insanely cool trailer for Suicide Squad from Wednesday (SKARAMOOSH! SKARAMOOSH! SHALL WE DO THE FANDANGO!). The trailer was so damn good, that it even made Jai Courtney appear interesting. And that, boys and girls, is a sentence I never thought I would type. But if writer/director David Ayer could take a human equivalent of soggy white bread like Courtney and actually give him personality, then I wonder what he could do with a properly talented actor?

Actually, I don’t have to wonder, as he’s done just that with Jared Leto, who of course plays arguably the most unsettling version of the Joker we’ve ever seen on-screen. Whereas Jack Nicholson was a gangster clown, and Heath Ledger was just chaos personified, Leto’s incarnation, with his weird fashion embellishments, no eyebrows, herky-jerky laugh and freaky line delivery, just feels plain and simple creepy.

And that’s something that even Ayer felt on the set, as he explained to USA Today that the Oscar-winning actor went “full method”, staying in character all the time and even “gifting presents” like rats to fellow cast mates:

“I love helping actors find what methodology works best for them. It’s like tailoring a suit — it’s not one size fits all. But it really made an event when he would show up on set. There was almost a pageantry to him, which did translate into the character and the power on screen he has.”

“People kept their distance [from Leto]… The hairs stand up on the back of your neck.”

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Zack Snyder, who is directing Batman v Superman as well as Justice League (where you can maybe expect a Joker cameo) and has also sort of become the main architect of Warner Bros’ DC Comics cinematic universe, also had nothing but high praise for Leto’s performance.

“The commitment to the role, you’re going to see that really shine through in a way that you’re not used to seeing actors in movies really go all the way with (in) every little moment and every little breath. You’re going to get taken on a journey with Jared that I don’t know that everyone’s ready for but I think it will be amazing.”

Leto has some massive shoes to fill of course, coming after the late Ledger’s posthumous Oscar-winning turn as the Clown Prince of Crime in Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Of course when Nolan first unveiled that the “pretty boy” Ledger would be playing the Joker, many fans initially balked at the casting until they eventually saw the deranged genius of what Ledger had done with the character.

With Suicide Squad it was kind of the opposite, as Leto’s casting – fresh off his Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club – was mostly met with excitement… until people saw the tattooed, grilled apparition that was to be the Joker, but who just looked like he was trying to hard to be edgy. Since seeing him in action in trailer and clips, fans – like myself – have warmed up to Leto’s Joker much more, but it’s still an uphill battle to try and break the mold, so to speak, with such a beloved character. And Ayer and co are fully aware of just how much the Joker means to so many fans.

“It’s a scary character to tackle. This iteration of him, people will realize there really is a continuity of history — there is a lot of respect for what the Joker represents, who he is as a character. He is the best known villain in fiction so there’s an incredible responsibility there to also be faithful to what he is but at the same time push him into this next world, next time, next phase.”

“If you’re a Batman fan, you have to love/hate the Joker because he’s the best nemesis ever. Just to have him on one of my film sets, it was a very memorable thing for me.”

For me personally, when it comes to Leto’s Joker I’ve already started flip-flopping from WTF?! to OMFG! and the more I see of it, the more I’m loving. But I could just be as crazy as… well, the Joker.

Suicide Squad is scheduled for release on August 5, 2016.

 

 

 

Last Updated: January 22, 2016

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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