Jared Leto Talks Following Heath Ledger As The Joker

Heath Ledger Jared Leto Joker

The Joker has a film legacy that rivals Batman's at this point, with two previous renditions of the character that have earned a great deal of praise from critics and fans alike. It's because of that lineage that David Ayer and Jared Leto's version of the iconic villain has been heavily anticipated, but with a healthy dose of caution.

Leto doesn't let that deter him, however, and in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the actor spoke about following Heath Ledger's stunning performance in The Dark Knight.

"Heath did an impeccable, perfect performance as the Joker," says Leto. "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."

He goes on to say that he only felt comfortable doing the part because it has such a long history in the comics and in other mediums.

"I think had it only been portrayed by Heath and it was never a comic book, maybe I would have felt that would be inappropriate," Leto says. "But I thought that given the history, it was OK. The good thing about other people having done this is that you know what direction not to head in."

Leto's method acting process is well noted, but even before he got to set, the actor looked to encompass the part in its entirety and watched hours and hours of violent crimes on Youtube.

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"The Joker is incredibly comfortable with acts of violence," says Leto. "I was watching real violence, consuming that. There's a lot you can learn from seeing it. Not every act of violence is committed with frenzy, either. I remember learning that. People can be calm. They've made their choice and go and do something, and it's not in a frenzy." His eyes have gone cold. "It's methodical and sometimes even hypnotic and deliberate."

Fans are eager to see just how different this Joker is from versions past, and we'll all get to find out when Suicide Squad hits on August 5th.