Jared Leto


Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

Grow­ing up around hip­pies and drug ad­dicts made me the ac­tor I am to­day. As a kid I was sur­rounded by hip­pies in a com­mune in the for­est. We cer­tainly weren’t think­ing of awards shows. But as I grew older I knew that I wanted to do some­thing that used my imag­i­na­tion. I had no con­cept of the word ‘fame’, or any no­tion of suc­cess or money. You have to do what is im­por­tant to you and pro­tect that. My mom [Con­stance] al­ways made sure my brother, Shannon, and I had ev­ery­thing we needed and made sure that we un­der­stood that what we want we must go out and get. [She] and Shannon are my rocks. My mom taught me to dream, work hard and fol­low my heart. Shannon is my best friend and it is the best thing to know that you’ll al­ways have some­one who will never give up [on you] and al­ways have your back. I’m an art-school dropout. But re­ally, I just wanted to be a cre­ative per­son who could make things, and that hasn’t changed, but I dis­cov­ered both act­ing and mu­sic to be things I felt ex­pressed a part of me. I am a per­former. There are al­ways go­ing to be people who don’t like you. There will al­ways be those who go, ‘F--k that guy, he shouldn’t make mu­sic, he makes movies’ – that’s a bizarre at­ti­tude. I just fol­low my gut. As Andy Warhol said: ‘La­bels are for cans, not people.’ I didn’t re­alise it had been so long since I was in a movie. I hadn’t read any scripts so I don’t know if there were any in­ter­est­ing ones around. I was busy with [our band] Thirty Sec­onds to Mars. Much to my sur­prise and the sur­prise of many oth­ers, our band re­ally worked. We never thought any of this would hap­pen the way it has.

‘I want to be part of things that are mean­ing­ful and re­ward­ing’

It’s some­thing you don’t even dare dream about, be­cause the con­ceit of that dream wouldn’t even feel right.You do what you do and hope only that it feeds your soul. Who re­ally cares what any­one has to say? Be­ing able to travel and play in all these dif­fer­ent places in the world and meet­ing so many people is a bless­ing. It’s quite [weird], be­cause some­times I am in a coun­try where I think that not many would show up for a show, only to find the con­cert has been sold out. As a per­former, it’s im­por­tant to look the part, so I try to do what’s best for the show. Pro­fes­sion­ally, I don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to ad­here to a cer­tain dress code. How­ever, I think that com­fort is cru­cial. Other­wise, you won’t be able to have fun and ex­press yourself. Whether I’m di­rect­ing, or act­ing in a film, or stand­ing on stage, it re­ally comes from the same place. It’s cre­ative prob­lem-solv­ing; mak­ing some­thing and shar­ing it with people. Star­ring on [’90s TV show] My So-Called Life was great for me: play­ing such an or­di­nary but com­plex per­son on a hit show led me to method act­ing and do­ing small films. You’re not just putting your work into them, you’re pour­ing your heart and soul into them. And when they don’t meet ex­pec­ta­tions, it can break your heart and your spirit. I have never been in a hurry to make a film just to work. I want to be part of things that are mean­ing­ful and re­ward­ing. The in­dus­try is a pool of lessons and bat­tles. I en­joy my life but Hol­ly­wood can take you for a ride – the cam­eras can some­times dis­tract you from what’s re­ally go­ing on. Crit­ics have slowed down on their crit­i­cism. It’s funny how af­ter win­ning a big award [an Os­car for best sup­port­ing ac­tor for his role in Dal­las Buy­ers Club], people pay more at­ten­tion or give you more of a chance. I work hard and that is all I re­ally care about.

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