Jared Leto’s performance as The Joker is one of the most highly-anticipated parts of this summer’s Suicide Squad. The character was last seen on the big screen in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, where he was played by the late Heath Ledger. The actor died of an overdose shortly after filming completed, but was awarded a posthumous best supporting actor award at the Academy Awards for the role, and in a new Rolling Stone cover story, Leto acknowledged the greatness of Ledger’s performance.
“Heath did an impeccable, perfect performance as the Joker,” Leto told Rolling Stone. “It’s one of the best performances ever in cinema. I had met Heath before. I didn’t know him well, but he was a beautiful person.”
At the same time, Ledger was far from the first person to adapt The Joker. Leto said the character’s many versions — brought to life in adaptations by Jack Nicholson, Caesar Romero, and Mark Hamill, among others — gave him the confidence to put his own spin on the villain without feeling overly indebted to Ledger.
One thing Leto has done differently than other Joker actors was his on-set antics, which were rumored to include sending strange objects to castmates and never getting out of character. Leto clarified that a bit in his Rolling Stone interview as well.
“The Joker became entertainment for a lot of the crew,” he says. “So I think we all kind of bonded, even though I was in this place.”
At the same time, Leto casually threw in a Joker reference that suggested what it might’ve been like to be on the Suicide Squad set.
“If the Joker did this interview,” Leto told Rolling Stone interviewer Brian Hiatt, “he’d definitely castrate you and make you eat your own testicles. Just for fun. That’s if he liked you.”