The Redemption of Jared Leto

DETAILS: You’ve said that when you were young you’d break into people’s houses and just sit in their living rooms. Why did you do that?
Jared Leto: My brother and I didn’t have many rules for ourselves and really didn’t acknowledge that there were any rules in the world. We would often break into schools. I assumed everyone did. I mean, we broke out of schools a lot as well. We were the kids that other kids weren’t allowed to play with. There wasn’t any deep ill intent, but we were compelled to do certain things. I think it was about experience, a feeling you get when you’re on the edge.

As Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life, you became an iconic nineties crush for sensitive, smart alterna-girls. Was there a downside?
I didn’t notice that stuff. I was just grateful to have the work. It was a very short period of time in my life. It was 17 episodes, and I barely spoke!

Your band, 30 Seconds to Mars, has this fantasy-fiction lexicon—your fans are the Echelon, for instance. You seem to be in touch with your dorky side.
Much more than people realize. I was never really the cool kid or the jock. I was always very much the lone wolf. If I could have ever figured out how to play Dungeons & Dragons correctly, I’d probably still be playing it.

What does music allow you to express that acting doesn’t?
I don’t think it has to be defined that way. Just because you like a sunset doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a sunrise. There are different things in life that are worth the pursuit. This has been the longest project I’ve ever worked on, the longest commitment I’ve ever had to any creative endeavor. We’ve been signed since 1998.

In concert you wear eyeliner, crazy hairstyles, elaborate outfits. Do you regard it as another acting gig?
No, no, no. As a musician, it’s about revealing more of who you really are. I’m not handed a script with dialogue; there’s no cinematographer or editor. I’m not so interested in creating a persona. There have been shows where I’ve been very plain and shows where I’ve worn a dress. I’ve got a skirt on right now. I was in Japan and all the busboys were wearing them.

You’ve gone out in public in drag.
I walked down Madison Avenue in a spaghetti-strap tank top and black-fringe wig, and I thought that I would pass with flying colors, but I didn’t. My shoulders were too big. My jaw was too big. I was just trying to disappear. It wasn’t like I was getting in touch with my inner transvestite.

You’re known as a ladies’ man. What’s the quickest you’ve ever gone from saying hello to someone to being in bed with them?
Well, you know, I’ve lived a life. I’ve certainly had my experiences out there, but I wouldn’t be so much of a gentleman if I talked about them. I would furthermore say, if you hope to have any respect at all, you probably shouldn’t talk about them.

You turn 39 this month. Any plans to settle down?
I don’t really believe in settling down. That term implies that the current path I’m on isn’t valid. It’s not always about living your life the way people have lived before you.

This article has been edited for The complete story appeared in Details Dec.2010.

December 1, 2010 | Interview | this post contains affiliate links