GOLDEN BOY

Jared Leto’s dra­matic turn as a trans­gen­der in Dal­las Buy­ers Club her­alded his come­back to act­ing. Will the ac­tor snag an Os­car for his ef­fort?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By RuBEn V. nEPALES

Jared Leto dis­ap­pears com­pletely as a trans­gen­der in Dal­las Buy­ers Club. In a per­for­mance that makes him a strong Best Sup­port­ing ac­tor con­tender in the up­com­ing Os­cars, Leto is rayon, a trans­sex­ual who forms an un­likely al­liance with a fel­low aIdS pa­tient, ron Woodroof (an equally com­pelling Matthew McConaughey), a real-life char­ac­ter whose story about learn­ing al­ter­na­tive treat­ments in Mex­ico and smug­gling them into the United States in­spired this film di­rected by Jean-Marc Vallee.

It’s a ca­reer-defin­ing role that got Leto to act again af­ter be­ing busy with his band, Thirty Sec­onds To Mars, where he’s the lead singer.

and what a re­turn to the big screen it is.

“When I first read the script, I thought there was a great op­por­tu­nity here to por­tray and bring to life a real per­son,” he ex­plained. “We see these char­ac­ters and usu­ally they are cliches. They are stereo­types – the drag queen dancing on the ta­ble, who al­ways has the punch­line and is run­ning out of the room at the end of ev­ery scene. I didn’t want to do that. That has been cov­ered and some­times re­ally fun and well – from Toot­sie to what­ever. There have been in­cred­i­ble per­for­mances out there.

“But I wanted to bring to life a real per­son – this young woman who was find­ing her­self. The things that I ad­mired about the char­ac­ter were ex­actly what I was brought up on. She was in­cred­i­bly com­pas­sion­ate, open, gen­tle, kind and emo­tive. I am not like that all the time. I can be guarded and I liked that side of the char­ac­ter. I hope that I am able to keep some of those char­ac­ter­is­tics that I re­ally ad­mired.”

asked what helped him give a stun­ning per­for­mance, Leto an­swered, “I think it was a com­bi­na­tion of things – script, role, fel­low cast mem­bers, and there was some magic there. But you know what the most im­por­tant thing was? Good old-fash­ioned, hard f***ing work. That’s what does it. It’s el­bow grease, dig­ging in, work­ing, work­ing and work­ing some more. That’s how you get that. I am a big be­liever in the re­al­ity and a dream is just work. I am a worker. That’s what I do.”

Com­pli­mented that he makes one pretty woman, Leto broke into a wide grin and re­marked, “Well, thank you very much! I am a very beau­ti­ful woman, un­like dustin Hoff­man. He had nice calves but I think my an­kles put him to shame.”

On whether he agreed with Mel Gibson who said that he had no trou­ble pulling on the pan­ty­hose for a scene in What Women Want, Leto was em­phatic in his re­ply: “I am go­ing to dis­agree with Mel Gibson. I found pan­ty­hose to be the worst thing to wear. It’s worse than heels. Your circulation is cut off. I had to wear two pairs of tights some­times. They were so tight. Oh my God, that was not fun. That was not the most com­fort­able. I didn’t feel free.”

a bit flirty, Leto con­ceded that there were “re­ally nice” as­pects about be­ing a woman on the set. “People treated me very well. It was al­ways in­ter­est­ing on the set. It was al­ways the big­gest, tough­est, strong­est team­ster who was a lit­tle bit flirty. He wanted to hold my hand when I got out of the van and said, ‘right this way, ma’am.’ People re­ally for­got it was me be­cause I was in char­ac­ter the whole time. It was in­cred­i­ble.”

Stand­ing up and then walk­ing like a woman, he shared, “a cou­ple of times, I would walk down and see a team­ster walk by, check­ing me out.” Leto demon­strated a team­ster turn­ing around and look­ing at him. “It was great.”

But he ad­mit­ted that he didn’t al­ways get amorous re­ac­tions.

“When I was shoot­ing this film, one day I went to Whole Foods. It was im­pos­si­ble not to be no­ticed. I thought I made a pretty good woman but not ev­ery­body thought so. People stared. Be­ing that thin, I got a look of cu­rios­ity and an­other look of judg­ment.”

The role is a big come­back for Leto who was get­ting ma­jor roles but de­cided to con­cen­trate on his mu­si­cal ca­reer in the last few years. Leto re­mem­bered the first time he moved to La to try his luck as an ac­tor and how that helped him por­tray rayon.

“When I first moved to La, I rented a room in a lit­tle apart­ment that a woman owned, and she also lived there. It was a three-bed­room unit. I had a bed jammed into a closet. That was af­ter I had slept on the beach for a while. But that’s a dif­fer­ent story.

“There was a man who rented one of the rooms. He was in his 40s and dy­ing of aIdS. I had never seen any­thing like it. I watched him wither away week af­ter week. We would some­times walk, get lunch to­gether or go to the gro­cery store. He was al­ways busy mak­ing shakes from veg­eta­bles – some­thing I had never seen be­fore. This was way be­fore Jamba Juice. He was an amaz­ing hu­man be­ing. He had an in­cred­i­ble sense of hu­mour, grace and hu­man­ity and taught me a lot. I was able to learn some of those lessons, and have greater un­der­stand­ing and em­pa­thy.”

On sleep­ing on the beach and other places while he was try­ing to

make it in LA, Leto re­vealed: “There were a cou­ple of times in my life when I was home­less. One of those times wasn’t so bad. It was when I came to LA for the first time with a back­pack and a cou­ple hun­dred dol­lars in my pocket. I ended up sleep­ing on Venice Beach. I was young and healthy and I knew it was just for a short pe­riod of time. I was in­tent on mak­ing a new life for my­self.

“I ended up stay­ing in a crack mo­tel for a few nights and then in a youth hos­tel. Even­tu­ally, I got that apart­ment that I talked about. That was my be­gin­ning in Los Angeles, not too dis­sim­i­lar from prob­a­bly a lot of other people.”

These days, Leto is mak­ing sure to ap­pre­ci­ate the raves he’s been earn­ing and not think­ing of his next ca­reer move.

“I haven’t made any plans to make an­other film. It would have to be very spe­cial, es­pe­cially af­ter this. This was a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and it continues to be.”

He has no re­grets. “I am re­ally proud of the choices that I’ve made. I fol­lowed my gut, heart and dreams. And I had this op­por­tu­nity.” — Philip­pine Daily In­quirer/Asia News Net­work

Ex­plor­ing a new side: ac­tor Jared Leto gave a stand­out per­for­mance as trans­sex­ual rayon (top) in dal­lasbuy­ers Club.

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