In the long-awaited sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049, Leto stars as Niander Wallace, a manipulative and menacing manufacturer of androids who are nearly identical to humans. The character is shrewd, intense and happens to be blind.
To get into character as his vision-impaired villain, Leto decided to once again turn to method acting and spent the entire shoot trying to live without the benefit of sight.
According to an interview with WSJ. Magazine, Leto opted to wear specially designed contact lenses that made his eyes look opaque while simultaneously prohibiting visibility. It also required the Oscar winner to be guided around the set.
According to director Denis Villeneuve, Leto's reputation for intense method acting preceded him, but the level to which the actor took his character transformation still came as something of a shock.
"We all heard stories about Jared, how he transforms into the characters. But even this didn’t prepare me for what was to come," said Villeneuve, who characterized some of Leto's acting decisions as "insane."
However, the Sicario director had nothing but praise for the results, sharing, "He really created something. Every time Jared came on set, it was a boost of energy, tension and excitement."
Villeneuve revealed that the performer was going to impressive lengths to get into character before principle photography even began. During his first camera test, the director said Leto came into the room already in character.
"He could not see at all. He was walking with an assistant, very slowly. It was like seeing Jesus walking into a temple," he recalled. "Everybody became super silent, and there was a kind of sacred moment. Everyone was in awe. It was so beautiful and powerful -- I was moved to tears."
For Leto, however, his level of commitment to playing Wallace didn't even compare to the intensity of some of his previous experiments in method acting -- like when he spent time with heroin addicts to get ready for his role in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, when he lost 30 pounds and shaved all the hair off his body for his Oscar-winning role in Jean-Marc Vallée's Dallas Buyers Club, or when he put on 67 pounds to play Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27, and ended up coming down with gout in the process.
"I didn’t dive as deep down the rabbit hole as maybe I’ve done before," Leto said in the interview. According to the star, he tried to live as a blind person, but never thought of himself as really blind. "I’m crazy, but I’m not insane."
One of the deepest rabbit holes Leto seems to have gone down during the course of his career was when he played the iconic Batman villain The Joker in David Ayer's Suicide Squad. According to reports (and his co-stars), the actor spent the entire time on set as the maniacal Clown Prince of Crime, and refused to speak or spend time with his co-stars between scenes.
Fans will get a chance to see if Leto's extra level of dedication pays off when Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters on Oct. 6.
Check out the video below for a look at the long-awaited sci-fi epic, which stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Dave Bautista and Robin Wright.