Who Is Jared Leto?
Jared Leto's breakthrough role was on the show My So-Called Life (1994-95), starring Claire Danes. A film career followed, including roles in Fight Club (1999), Requiem for a Dream (2000), Dallas Buyers Club (2013) — for which he received an Academy Award for best supporting actor — and Suicide Squad (2016). Leto is also the lead singer of the popular band 30 Seconds to Mars, which he founded with his brother, Shannon.
Leto was born on December 26, 1971, in Bossier City, Louisiana. Leto's parents divorced shortly after he was born and his mother, a traveling artist, raised him. The family struggled financially, but creativity was emphasized and Jared and his older brother, Shannon, both developed a robust appreciation of the arts. Leto enrolled at Philadelphia's University of the Arts to study painting, but switched his focus to acting and transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he majored in filmmaking.
Film and TV Roles
'My So-Called Life'
In 1992, Leto moved to Los Angeles, California. His breakthrough acting role came when he was cast as Claire Danes' love interest, Jordan Catalano, in My So-Called Life (1994-95). Fans of the show were so rabid that Leto received a human ear and a box of pubic hair. Solidifying his heartthrob status, the actor was named to People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" list in both 1996 and 1997.
'The Thin Red Line,' 'Fight Club'
Leto appeared in his first film role in 1995, in How to Make An American Quilt. He later landed roles in The Thin Red Line (1998), directed by Terrence Malick, and Fight Club (1999), directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter.
'American Psycho,' 'Requiem for a Dream'
In 2000, Leto starred in Mary Harron's American Psycho, alongside Christian Bale, as well as in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, with Ellen Burstyn, Marlon Wayans and Jennifer Connelly. To prepare for his role as heroin addict Harry Goldfarb in Requiem, Leto reportedly lived on New York City's streets and abstained from sex with then-fiancée Cameron Diaz (the couple broke up in 2003). The actor showed similar dedication for his portrayal of John Lennon's assassin in Chapter 27 (2007), gaining 60 pounds for the part. He then earned more acclaim for his co-starring role in the sci-fi drama Mr. Nobody (2009).
Oscar Win for 'Dallas Buyers Club'
In 2014, Leto won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role as a transgender woman named Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club (2013). Leto lost 30 pounds for the role, which marked his return to acting after a six-year hiatus.
'Suicide Squad,' 'Blade Runner'
After another hiatus, Leto played the villainous Joker in the 2016 action-packed superhero release of Suicide Squad, alongside Will Smith and Margot Robbie. He then appeared in Blade Runner 2049 (2017), with Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, before taking on another starring role in the crime drama The Outsider (2018).
Band: 30 Seconds to Mars
Jared and Shannon Leto founded the band 30 Seconds to Mars (also stylized as Thirty Seconds to Mars) in 1998. Jared serves as the group's lead singer alongside Shannon on drums, with other musicians rounding out the lineup over the years.
In 2011, the group set a Guinness World Record for longest concert tour by a rock band by performing 300 shows. The following year, they released a documentary, Artifact, about their feud and $30 million lawsuit with record label EMI. The film was directed by Leto under the pseudonym "Bartholomew Cubbins," a Dr. Seuss character. Leto also uses that name while directing the band's videos.
In May 2013, 30 Seconds to Mars released their fourth album, Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams. Later that year, the group won the MTV Video Music Award for best rock video for the song "Up in the Air." They returned with their fifth album, America, in 2018.
The band has a loyal following, especially in Europe. Leto calls 30 Seconds to Mars' supporters "the echelon" instead of "fans."
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