Jared Leto felt ‘alienated & upset’ when Joaquin Phoenix was cast as Joker

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Hecate recently wondered if Jared Leto was in his feelings about the success of Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of the Joker. It looks like we have our answer! Several years ago, Jared Leto was cast as the Joker in Suicide Squad. Initially, the casting was big news because it was believed that the Joker would be the stand-out of the ensemble, and that people would be most interested in him. That’s the way they initially shot the film and worked the story. Then everyone realized that actually, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was the real star and so they reshot some parts and ended up severely editing Leto’s Joker. Leto didn’t help matters by acting like an absolute “Method” psycho to his costars, to the point where everyone just kind of hated him (or at least that was the vibe). It also didn’t help matters that Jared kind of sucked in the role?

So, Joaquin Phoenix did what he did and now his stand-alone Joker origin story is a huge critical and financial success and where does that leave Jared Leto, who was once promised that he could have a stand-alone Joker movie? According to an aside in the THR piece about Martin Scorsese’s involvement in Joker, Leto was not pleased:

Martin Scorsese was involved with Joker — which opened in the U.S. to $96 million over Oct. 4-6, an October record — as a producer when the project was first unveiled by Warner Bros. in 2017 with Todd Phillips directing. Although he eventually dropped the credit, his contribution has been a mystery. A source close to Scorsese tells The Hollywood Reporter he originally eyed Joker as a potential directing vehicle before Phillips approached the studio with his own take on the nihilistic villain. Warners declined comment, while Scorsese’s rep says he “had no intention to direct Joker” and only “considered producing.”

In 2016, Phillips pitched former Warners chief Kevin Tsujihara and former production co-president Greg Silverman his original idea that would stand alone from the interconnecting DC film storylines featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Toby Emmerich, now Warners film chief, loved the script co-written by Phillips and Scott Silver, but questioned whether it needed to live in the DC Universe at all, lest it be dubbed “dark” like the label that was then sticking to its movies.

Tsujihara and Emmerich greenlit Joker, which cost less than $70 million, leaving Jared Leto — who played Joker in Suicide Squad — alienated and upset by the move.

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

I’ll make fun of Jared Leto for a lot of things, but I can totally understand how he felt “alienated and upset” by basically getting thrown out of the DC universe. That’s exactly what happened – he was loosely promised a stand-alone movie and then they ended up doing this movie with Joaquin. That being said, I totally understand why the studio did what they did. Jared Leto’s version of Joker was unsuccessful on nearly every level! No one wanted him, he sucked, his portrayal was garbage and his costars disliked him. I mean… sh-t happens.

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Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

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38 Responses to “Jared Leto felt ‘alienated & upset’ when Joaquin Phoenix was cast as Joker”

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  1. Ye says:

    Jared Leto is a pretty great actor though. I feel like he was cast in a really crappy production and his Joker suffered for it. Thats the risk you take when choosing to do a movie. Personally I cant stand these ensemble movies. I couldnt take 15 minutes of Suicide Squad. I have zero interest in The Avengers. Too much action and too little character work. I am looking forward to The Joker, since it seems less busy and more character-centric.

    I’m sure he will shine in other roles.

  2. Eliza says:

    I think DC let him shape a character that was unsuccessful. He was awful on set because he’s “method” and overall it was a horrible uneven movie (not his fault). So, when a character actor with more gravitas swept up a role and is getting so much praise for it, I mean I’m sure it’s a huge blow to his ego. Mostly because he has a massive ego and probably still thinks his version is so great and people didn’t get it.

    I hated Suicide Squad, and have no interest in seeing a second rate The King of Comedy. But at least Joaquin’s character appears to be fleshed out and human, how Jared could think his version (Id say cartoon version, but that’s insulting to the animated series) was believable?

    • T says:

      Great actors can snap in and out of their character even when method acting. Jared has a massive ego and needs to stick to his comfort level.. acting as himself. That’s when he excels in roles. He’s not a character actor. There’s a lot of professional seasoned actors with awards that are method and are notorious for being amazing to work with and can snap in and out of character, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Idris Elba etc etc etc. Usually the actors that act like divas are compensating for their lack of acting skill. Also Jared is playing the joker in Suicide Squad.. a kids movie. Why be an asshole in a PG rated film meant for kids. It’s not an Oscar worthy film by any means it’s pure entertainment and a cash cow.

  3. Maria says:

    His Joker was fine. At least he did something different with it. Not my favorite Joker, but everyone getting up in arms about it is silly.

    • Isabelle says:

      He simply wasn’t as good as most of the Jokers on screen. He needs to realize his version of the joker was mediocre at best. A try hard joker. His version in no way deserves its own movie.

  4. stellalovejoydiver says:

    Anything that upsets Leto is fine with me, I can’t stand this pos

  5. Harla says:

    I really liked Jared’s Joker character. There was something in his eyes, how he could flip the switch between sounding “sane” and not that really got me.

  6. Lucky says:

    The first thing my wife said when she heard their was a Joker movie was “Ooh, Jared Leto for two hours?!” And I was like “nope they went in a different direction!” She was so upset. lol

  7. Lightpurple says:

    Suicide Squad was an absolutely horrible film that wasted an incredible amount of talent. Doubtful that Viola Davis, Will Smith or David Harbour count it as their finest work.

    • Lynne says:

      I agree…the best parts of the movie were used as the Promo trailer. I was excited to see it and almost fell asleep.

  8. whatWHAT? says:

    sort of off topic, and I hope this link is OK to post.

    read this yesterday, and it’s making me look at this movie a little differently.


  9. mew says:

    Joaquin’s performance was absolutely amazing on Joker. Leto could never come close to that.

  10. Piptopher says:

    This guy gives manson vibes and then what do you know, he actually is starting a cult. Could be tongue in cheek (not funny to those actually harmed by cultic behavior) but I’m wary


  11. Margo Smith says:

    I have second hand embarrassment for Jared. Like he thought everyone would be all “Woah he’s crazy! I love it!!!” But instead we were like, “dude, get a life.” Awkward AF.

  12. Eleonor says:

    Get over.

  13. TheOriginalMia says:

    He’s not the first actor to be replaced. Mark Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton within the Avenger universe. Ed got over it. So will Jared. Or he won’t and life will continue on.

    • Cali says:

      Too bad Mark was a downgrade though and Hulk has suffered, love Mark but he is my least favorite Hulk.

  14. D says:

    Can we just admit he’s not a good actor/musician yet? talk about mediocrity failing upwards

    • MC2 says:

      But Jordan Catalano!!! (sarcasm) He kind of reminds me of when that Partridge boy grew up…

      • Maggie says:

        I would totally watch a Jordan Catalano origin story! That is the only Leto I can take. My teen crush imploded when I was having a drink at the Rainbow on Sunset and he and Cameron Diaz- remember they dated? yikes- came out of the Roxy Club next door and she was glowing in a beautiful white tailored suit, waiting for him on a curb, to stop self promoting to all of the paps. It was gross even to watch. She was clearly the bigger star at the time, and he was this tiny, scrawny, unwashed man boy. Not the handsome 90s grunge heart throb who wore that shearling lined coat. The upside to that night was seeing Hefner and the Girls Next Door come out of a side door to a gigantic over the top Escalade Limo. (kind of a big deal in 2002 haha) Edit: I might have my Sunset Strip bars mixed up. That was a hazy time but I mean, I was 23. 🙂

  15. Veronica S. says:

    IMO, the real shot fired his way are the rumors they’re recasting the role for a different actor in “Birds of Prey” and either reusing footage or editing him out entirely. That is a pretty blunt statement on the part of DC, and I highly suspect it says something about Margot Robbie’s feelings about what went down on the set of “Suicide Squad.”

  16. Lady Luna says:

    Leto seems like an actor trying to play crazy, Joaquin looks freaking crazy trying to play normal. That’s the difference between them.

  17. Brooke R Greer says:

    The second pic kind of looks like Pete Davidson…

  18. KYRE says:

    Until just this very minute, I thought they were the same person. I still don’t think I could tell them apart. Arrogant white men who think they are super artsy and philosophical, so gross.

  19. Candikat says:

    Isn’t “alienated and upset,” like, Jared Leto’s default emotion?

  20. Loretta says:

    Jared Leto was an awful Joker. Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix were a completely different league.

  21. SM says:

    Well, evidently miracles happen and even men who are unprofessional sometimes do not get away with being a total tool on set. I am sure the fact that everyone hated his ass (Viola Davis shaded him hard) by the end of production was a contributing factor. Also if I was his PR I would recommend him to stay away from the lights Oscar hopefuls are pushed into. I am sure the “Jared Leto, the sexual predator” story is just waiting for a moment to happen. Long overdue, in my opinion. Not sure how he still gets away with it or him being pushed out quietly is a sign that he did not get away with it?

    • Bread and Circuses says:

      He also created a very off-putting character. Even fans found him grating, and–well–the Joker is supposed to be charismatic.

      I think the studios had aaaaaall kinds of reasons to quietly rid themselves of Leto.

  22. Lisabella says:

    Joaquin Phoenix IS an Actor… Leto is Not.

  23. Lex says:

    It is still too soon after Heath for any Joker movies. Give it a rest for a while

  24. serena says:

    I understand both sides, tbh. I hated Leto’s Joker.. he just seemed like a creepy pimp but I feel they needed some dark crazy versus his pysco neon crazy so yeah.