Jared Leto’s Joker in ‘Suicide Squad’ Was Inspired by ‘Drug Lords on Instagram’
When Christopher Nolan first revealed Heath Ledger’s Joker for The Dark Knight, fans were pretty annoyed with the drastic departure from the classic depictions of the character. Reactions to Jared Leto’s version of the character from Suicide Squad were twice as intense thanks to that gold grill and his collection of questionable tattoos, which mostly left fans feeling baffled. If you’re curious about what on earth inspired David Ayer’s new Joker, the director has offered some insight into his influences — most of which you can find on Instagram.
Between his aggressive appearance and numerous reports of his bizarre behavior on set and the insane “gifts” he sent to his Suicide Squad co-stars, Leto’s Joker is already quite memorable. While Ledger’s Joker went on to become one of the more iconic versions of the Batman villain, we still have a couple of months before we’ll know if Leto’s depiction can measure up. In the meantime, Ayer spoke with Yahoo! about his inspiration for the character in Suicide Squad, which he says he found on Instagram, of all places:
A lot of it has to do with creating a character with some kind of history and footprint in our world. And not have this sacrosanct being outside of our continuum, our reality. If a guy like him really existed today, where would he come from? How would he do business? Who would he know? What would he look like? In my mind, I took a lot of inspiration from drug lords on Instagram. It’s a great way to understand the lifestyle of a villain.
Is there a #DrugLordsofInstagram tag you can browse? Do those guys participate in #Caturday? This explanation offers more questions than answers.
Ayer went on to reveal that Leto’s Joker tattoos and even his gold teeth tell a story, and that fans will find a few easter eggs hidden in his ink (some have already pointed out one tattoo that references Robin, for instance):
The tattoos tell a very specific story. And eventually people will decipher them and understand what’s going on, but obviously they’re contentious, any time you do something new it’s contentious. There’s very specific stories and easter eggs in those tattoos. And even his teeth, there’s an entire story behind that which is absolutely canon. It’s putting his history on his body. This Joker is a little more working class, who I believe could live in our world.
And despite Leto’s wacky behavior on set (which is a total understatement), Ayer had nothing but praise for the actor and his “methods”:
He constantly has to give birth to himself, he goes away, he comes back, he shoots, he goes away… The Joker is something you have to be, and you can see how exhausting and painful it is for him to be this character. But you can feel it when he comes to work, the crew feels it, everyone feels it. It’s like the birds stop flying. He’s f***ing terrifying.
So when you’re watching Suicide Squad on August 5, just remember that you’re really watching Jared Leto give birth to himself over and over, like a Russian nesting egg painted up to resemble a white gangster clown who probably listens to Macklemore and owns stock in Hot Topic. Enjoy!