‘Suicide Squad’ Star Jared Leto Compares His Joker to Hamlet and Scarface
While most fans can agree that Suicide Squad looks like a fairly entertaining antidote to the usual blockbuster superhero fare, at least one part of David Ayer’s super-villain team-up remains divisive. You already know which part that is: Jared Leto’s tattooed, chrome-grilled Hot Topic take on Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker, aka the Clown Prince of Crime. However you feel about Leto’s Joker aesthetic, it’s certainly different from and incomparable to any previous iteration of the character — though Leto does have a couple of wacky comparisons in mind.
The Joker is the trickiest part of Suicide Squad, particularly following the late Heath Ledger’s incredible portrayal of the Batman villain in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Ayer and Leto really needed to set this version apart from the rest, and judging by the trailers, they’ve gone to the opposite end of the violently wacky spectrum. It remains to be seen how (or if) this Joker will resonate with audiences, but you kind of have to applaud their audacity.
The work that’s been done on this character by so many people before me has been so impactful, so incredible, so much fun, so profound, so risky, that it’s a very special thing to be asked to take on that responsibility.
Leto goes on to compare The Joker to other enduring roles that have been played by different actors in different adaptations, like, um Hamlet:
You just knew you had to do something different. You had to make it your own. That happens all the time. Whether you’re a composer working on a piece of music that was written a century ago, or you’re an actor on stage, reinterpreting a play, it’s very common these days. Directors take on great works of cinema, actors reinterpret roles, that’s been going on for a great deal of time. From Scarface to Hamlet. In some ways it’s really interesting to reinterpret, redefine.
The Scarface comparison seems more apt than Hamlet — The Joker isn’t exactly bursting with tragic Shakespearean prose, though I would pay a reasonable amount of money to see a Shakespeare in the Park-style performance of a Batman story.
That said, Leto and Ayer definitely succeeded in establishing a Joker of their very own, completely separate from Ledger and Nicholson’s versions of the classic villain. We’ll find out if that’s for better or worse when Suicide Squad hits theaters on August 5.
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