And he decided to take on the iconic supervillain Joker in the DC Comics thriller Suicide Squad. It's a brash move, but Leto says he loved the film's originality. "You can anticipate a lot of chaos and a hell of a lot of fun," he says. "And I think it's something completely different than other movies in the genre."

Jared Leto creates his own version of The Joker in Suicide Squad

An actor who also fronts a rock band (30 Seconds to Mars), Leto says he doesn't have a master plan, even after winning an Academy Award. "My career has had a nice slow burn," he says. "I never woke up one day and all of a sudden my life changed. And I'm grateful for that, because I think it has allowed me the time and space to adjust accordingly, to find out where and how I'm comfortable doing things. A little bit has been fate. Some of it's been design. Fame has never been a target for me."

As for playing the Joker in Suicide Squad, he was simply attracted to the role. "I've always been interested in leaders and rule breakers and artists and politicians," Leto says. "And I found it a real honour to be asked to continue the tradition of the Joker."

Was he daunted by taking on a role that brings so much history with it? "I don't remember much hesitation," Leto says. "I'm sure that I considered everything when I got the call. Number one, Heath Ledger: not only was he perfect as the Joker, there's not a single frame where he's not great. Not only was he perfect in that role, but it's probably one of the best performances on film, period. That's my opinion. And that was my opinion before I got the call. Then you have Jack Nicholson, one of the world's legends. Then you have Cesar Romero. And then you have Mark Hamill, who does this incredible voice acting. Then you have 75 years that the Joker has been written about and brought to life by artists.

"But in a way, the fact that it has been interpreted so many times gave me a great sense of freedom and permission to walk down a different path. On the one hand, I had an enormous amount of respect for what's been done before. On the other, this excitement about the opportunity to go and say something else, something new, something different."

Watch the trailer for Suicide Squad: