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Suicide Squad: Jared Leto tried to reinvent Joker like actors do for Hamlet

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Jared Leto is the first to admit that he hasn’t quite pinned down his feelings about playing one of comic lore’s most iconic villains — the Joker in Warner Bros.’ coming DC Comics adaptation Suicide Squad. Leto puts a tattooed spin on the anarchic clown prince of crime, a ring leader of sorts for the group of baddies brought together to execute incredibly risky missions — ones that will most likely get them killed — in exchange for clemency. With the movie’s release months away, the actor and 30 Seconds to Mars frontman is still figuring out how to articulate his approach to assuming the mantle of Batman’s greatest foe. “I haven’t formulated a lot of my thoughts on this,” he tells EW.

One thing the Oscar winner is clear on, though, is the magnitude of bringing the Joker to the screen. The role, of course, was last brought to the screen by the late Heath Ledger in director Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight; the actor won a rare posthumous Oscar for his performance. Before that, it was Jack Nicholson who famously wore a broad grin in Tim Burton’s Batman.

“The work that’s been done on this character by so many people before me has been so impactful, so incredible, so much fun, so profound, so risky, that it’s a very special thing to be asked to take on that responsibility,” Leto says.

Before filming on Suicide Squad began, Leto knew he wanted to put his own stamp on the Joker. “You just knew you had to do something different. You had to make it your own. That happens all the time. Whether you’re a composer working on a piece of music that was written a century ago, or you’re an actor on stage, reinterpreting a play, it’s very common these days. Directors take on great works of cinema, actors reinterpret roles, that’s been going on for a great deal of time. From Scarface to Hamlet. In some ways it’s really interesting to reinterpret, redefine.

“It a weighty thing to do. But it’s exciting. The Joker is one of those roles. He was written brilliantly when he was first shared with the world 75 years ago, or something crazy like that. And I think I’m just really grateful I had the opportunity.”