Recently I watched a movie called ‘The outsider (2018)’ in which Jared Leto plays a gangster. I was blown away the way he portrayed the character. When I finished watching it I thought, what is so different about this guy. Every character he plays, he looks the character and not Jared Leto. There has to be a Jared Leto method acting, that allows him to make his characters so unbelievably amazing and different.
Everyone knows how good Jared Leto is. But what goes into his method of acting is not known, except the stories going around in the media about him being a nightmare for his co-actors. I wouldn’t try to scrap the dirt that media makes about him and stick to what we, as actors, can learn from the Jared Leto method acting.
5 Things That makes Jared Leto Method Acting Work
Identifying the Character
You have to admit, the kind of characters Jared Leto picks are interesting in themselves. Be it Rayon from Dallas Buyer’s Club or be it Harry Goldfarb from Requiem for a Dream. Those characters always stand out of from others.
Jared Leto is very good in identifying those characters. Not just identifying but understanding the objectives and obstacles they have.
Knowing objective and obstacles of your character is one of the first thing you must do when you take up a role. Every thing you need would be given by the script writer but it would be your sense and perspective that would make the character unique.
What I mean by making a character unique, is that if you put some part of yours into the character, audience will be intrigued. They would feel they have witness something new. For instance, take the characters Jared Leto has played, if some other actor would have played those character, they might have played it differently. Rayon wouldn’t same Rayon that we saw on the screen.
So, its important for any actor to identify the character and relate to it. Ask these question to yourself while taking up a new character:
- What is so interesting about this character?
- Do I relate to this character?
- What are objectives and obstacles of the character?
These simple questions will help get closer to the character. Or You can use Uta Hagen 9 questions in order to build character.
This is another great thing we can learn from Jared Leto method acting. He does experiments to experience the circumstances of the character. If media reports are to be believed, he has done some crazy things.
While working on his character for Requiem for a Dream, it was rumored that he gaven up sex for almost two months. For your information, he was dating the beautiful Cameron Diaz at the time. In addition, he lost 25 pounds for his character. Losing such kind of weight is not good for human body. You have to sacrifice your food for few months. Constant fasting every other day to shed pounds.
In one of his interview, he talked about how eating less caused his bone marrow to drop almost 400 points, even his liver was damaged.
Such stories teach how he approached his character. He liked to experience the circumstances of his character before filming for it. However, he might have done all these crazy things under supervision. I would advice you to do the same. You don’t want to hurt yourself for just a simple part.
Being the character
I found this one thing common among all great method actors. They all love to be in their character even while they are not performing. Daniel Day Lewis comes to my mind. He became Abraham Lincoln for whole duration of the film. Even the director of the film, Steven Spielberg, used to address him Mr. Lincoln.
Jared Leto has similar approach to his character. Will smith admitted in one his interview that while shooting for the Suicide Squad, he never met the real Jared Leto. even during breaks, whenever he tried to talk to Jared Leto, he received answers from the Joker; the character he was potraying inSucide Squad.
I am not advising you to be the character 24×7 but you as an actor must learn to stay connected with your character even when you are not performing. I have understood this from experience.
Whenever I attempted same monologue after few weeks, I felt I had no connection with the character. I had to take some time and prep for it before I could perform it again. So stay connected to your character until the project is not finished completely.
I have already talked to you about, how Jared Leto lost his weight during the requiem for a dream. It wasn’t the first time. With every new character he works on the physicality of the character. Its not just the weight, he works on looks, the walk and the talk. He creates specific mold for every character he plays.
In his recent movie, Blade Runner 2049, he played the role of Niander Wallace, who is blind. If you have observed any blind person, you would find they have a specific physicality. It is not easy to bring that physicality on the screen or stage with conviction. Jared hired a coach who himself was blind to teach him everything about blindness. He used thick lenses during the shoot, so he could really be blind.
Each and every character has their own physicality, you must make extra efforts to develop that. Observe those who resemble your character, try to learn why they look a certain way, or why they walk certain way and if they have any defects, how they cope with them. Practice that physicality over and over again, until it becomes part of you.
One of my favorite actor is Heath ledger. He believed, if you find the voice of the character, you find the character. Jared Leto method acting proves what Heath Ledger believed. Even he tries to find the right voice of any character he plays. The pitch, and the tempo is so unique for each character he plays.
The Rayon from Requiem for a dream had the voice of young boy, who is messed up by addiction and Nainder Wallace of Blade Runner 2049, had the heavy voice with slow tempo, in order to show control of his character over the circumstances in the film.
How he found the voices, the method is not known. But if we see his performance he did make extra efforts to find the voices.
You must also try to find the right voice for your character. Initially, work with many different voices, and see which feels right for your character. Never, use the dialogues from the script while finding the voice. Always have a normal conversation using character’s voice. Only after you are ready with your character as a whole, attempt the scenes from the script.
This is my view of Jared Leto method acting. Things that I have observed and learned from his performances and what he had said about his method acting. If you feel differently, you are free to experiment with it.