Jared Leto Recalls the Negative Treatment He Received After Gaining 60 Pounds for a Role

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Jared Leto is opening up about his famous transformations. The 50-year-old actor covers the April issue of Men's Health, and talks about how dramatically changing his appearance for roles impacts his own life.

Leto has played everyone from The Joker to Paolo Gucci, always staying in character on set, and always adapting how he looks for the role.

While Leto's aware that his dedication to the projects won't actually turn him into the people he's playing, he tells the mag, "Your job is to bring to life the spirit of the person that’s depicted in the story, to serve the story... I’m thinking about the heart of the character, the soul, the spirit."

"Those other things," he says of the prosthetics, the makeup, the bodily transformations, "it’s the description."

In the end, he explains, the physical changes he goes through are less about looking like a particular person, and more about getting insight into how that person walks through life.

"How does it change the way you walk? How does it change the way you talk? How does it change the way people treat you?" he says of changing his own appearance for the sake of a role. 

"I gained over 60 pounds for a role once, and it was amazing. I remember asking someone for the time in New York and they, like, recoiled," Leto recalls. "I saw people I knew who didn’t know I was filming and thought... that I had 'not been taking care of myself.' They took it as a sign of something wrong in my life. It was a really wild thing to experience that."

Jared Leto
Jimmy Chin

His latest transformation is into that of disgraced WeWork CEO Adam Neumann for Apple TV+'s WeCrashed. When ET spoke with Leto at the series' premiere, he revealed that he got into that particular role by walking the streets of New York City barefoot, something Neumann was known to do.

"Walking down the street barefoot -- if you've ever lived in New York, you know there's one thing you don't want to do, is walk down that street barefoot," Leto said. "So, I think I got a little stunt pay that day." 

As for what it's like turning off the character at the end of a project after "working immersively" for so long, Leto told ET, "Look, when you make a commitment, in any way, when you let go, there can be a mourning process."

"Some of the things are physical. The way you move, the way you laugh, the way you talk, the accent. It can become habit. So, I think it's normal that there's a little grace period," he said. "You don't just all of a sudden, 'Hey, I forgot about the last six months of my life.' So, there's a little bit of time."

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