Jared Leto has evolved into one of Hollywood's most interesting stars.
Actor, rockstar and perhaps future Oscar winner, Jared Leto has gone from early 90s teen idol status to one of Hollywood's most dedicated, critically acclaimed actors. The now 41 year old star has had a career evolution over the past 20 years with more than a few surprises along the way.
Jared Leto star of Dallas Buyers Club could take home the Oscar next month
Leto’s breakthrough role was opposite Claire Danes in the 1994 TV show ‘My So-Called Life’. Although the series was short lived, running for only one season it was critically acclaimed and would later gain a cult following. He landed his first big screen role in 1995 ensemble cast drama’ How to Make an American Quilt’. After ‘My So-Called Life’ ended Leto was inevitably painted as a teen heartthrob, and although his film choices weren't always obvious, such as 1996’s 'High Kings ‘ and ‘Switchback’ in 1997, he was stil yet to land a major film role.
It was in 1997 that Leto’s first gained recognition for his methodical approach to acting. He was cast as the lead in 'Prefontaine', a biography of 1970s Olympic hopeful Steve Prefontaine. Leto already possessed a physical resemblance to the athlete, but further worked to imitate him completely, mimicking his voice and even his running style. Critics praised Leto’s performance and especially the depth and understanding he brought to the role. Next he experienced his first real taste of box office success with ‘Urban Legend’, a teen slasher movie, however critics were not so kind to the movie, and his next few roles would see the actor taking on more serious projects.
The next two years would see Leto take on smaller supporting roles alongside bigger Hollywood names. This included parts in ‘Girl Interrupted’ playing Winnona Ryder’s ex boyfriend and a small part in ‘Fight Club’ as Angel Face. Leto then took on the lead role in Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Requiem for a Dream’, where he could once again play a character in which he could fully immerse himself. To play the role of heroin addict Harry Goldfarb Leto lost 28 pounds, he was told by Aronofsky to avoid sugar and sex during the filming to have a better understanding of addiction He would also often stand by the food table and watch people eat. The role would leave an effect on the actor who described the experience in 2002 as ‘"dark and personal, masochistic and questionable at times. Just physically it took a really long time to get back to where I was, as a normal human being.”
After achieving critical acclaim for ‘Requiem for a Dream’, Leto took a break from acting in 2002 to concentrate on his other love, music. He formed the band, 30 Seconds to Mars with his brother Shannon in 1998. Their self titled debut album was released in 2002 and they followed it three years later with ‘A Beautiful Lie’, which broke the band into the mainstream. Since ‘A Beautiful Lie’ the band have continue their success with two further albums, most recently 2013’s ‘Love, Lust Faith and Dreams’ which debuted at number 6 on the Billboard 200 and made the top ten in several other countries.
Jared Leto, the rock star, fronting 30 Seconds to Mars
Leto’s return to acting saw him take a role in Oliver Stone’s universally panned film ‘Alexander’, his follow up ‘Lonely Hearts’ was also not a critically well received film but his performance was praised. Perhaps physically, the hardest role to date came when he played John Lennon’s killer Mark Chapman in 2007’s ‘Chapter 27’. For the role Leto gained 67 pounds, his sudden weight gain caused him to suffer gout and be confined to a wheelchair due to the stress being put on his body. Although the film did not do as well as hoped at the box-office, his performance won him further praise and his dedication was noted. He would later admit he’d never gain weight for a part again due to the problems he suffered after ‘Chapter 27’. His next role would be in 2009’s ‘Mr Nobody’ after which he took another break from acting.
Jared Leto as Rayon and Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club
Now, in 2014, Leto has won a Golden Globe for his performance in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and is also enjoying his first Academy Award nomination for playing Rayon, a transgendered woman. Once again Leto physically transformed himself for the part, losing 30 pounds to play the character who suffers from AIDS and drug addiction. Leto has once again proved himself as one of the most dedicated and well rounded actors of his generation. His transformation from early 90s teen idol to serious movie star is now fully complete. Whether or not Leto walks away with the Oscar on March 2nd is immaterial, the actor has more than shown his worth as a star of the screen, and his other career as a fully fledged rockstar makes him Hollywood’s modern renaissance man.