×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Jared Leto got ripped to play the Joker and Morbius

Whether he's touring with his band Thirty Seconds to Mars or giving it his all in an Academy Award-winning film, Jared Leto can't do anything halfway. No matter what he's doing, he's putting in everything he's got — this isn't a guy who holds back or feels satisfied with a mediocre performance. Leto's intense dedication to his craft has made him a force on stage and on screen, and he's particularly known for taking on roles that require him to push his body to its limits.

Before playing Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream, Leto lost 28 pounds and lived on the streets of New York City to get into character. When he signed on to play Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27, he packed on over 60 pounds and ended up in a wheelchair. And for the iconic role of the Joker in Suicide Squad, Leto got into incredible shape and focused on building serious muscle definition. Now, he's hitting the gym again to get ready to star as the title character in the upcoming Spider-Man spinoff film, Morbius. Here's how Leto totally altered his physique to play the Joker, and what he's doing now to prepare for the role of a living vampire.

He practiced sparring

The personal training sessions for Suicide Squad were no joke. These workouts were not for the faint of heart, and the entire cast came in ready to get into top physical shape before shooting began. Director David Ayer decided that he wanted the cast to practice sparring. Not only would it help them get into shape, he also felt that it would help them get to know each other, build camaraderie, and get them into the right mindsets to play characters who were, well, out of their minds.

The cast worked with renowned Kempo Karate instructor Richard Mesquita, and he did not go easy on them. Will Smith ended up tearing his calf muscle, and Joel Kinnaman actually blew out his knee. By the time these sparring sessions had concluded, Leto and the rest of the cast all earned their yellow belts. Sparring may not be part of Leto's typical workout routine, but it certainly helped him prepare to play the Joker.

He trained like a bodybuilder

Leto's workouts for Suicide Squad went beyond sparring practice. Under the guidance of trainer Brendan Johnston, the entire cast got fit together while staying at a training facility in Toronto for what they described as "boot camp." Although they all attended workout sessions together, Johnston also had specific exercises in mind for each cast member, depending on what their character would be doing on screen.

Johnston wanted Leto to look like an MMA fighter by the time he was done working with him. How did he achieve that? For starters, Leto's regular workouts consisted of plenty of bodybuilding exercises and weighted calisthenics. He also practiced boxing, and Johnston noted that Leto was "throwing a lot of punches throughout the day." However, it wasn't all about lifting — Leto's regular routines also included some daily cardio. The cast typically got one day off after every four days they spent in the gym, so there was also some mandatory rest time.

He did yoga

So, how did Leto make the most out of his time outside the gym? He certainly wasn't laying on the couch when he had days off. Instead, he incorporated gentle, low impact exercises that would get him moving while still giving his body the chance to rest and recover after long training sessions.

When Leto had a day off, he typically took some time to practice yoga. Stretching and holding yoga poses improves both flexibility and muscle strength. It can be as easy or difficult as you want it to be, but a slow yoga flow is a great way to get your blood flowing when you can't hit the gym. After all, becoming the Joker wasn't all about throwing punches and lifting weights. Leto also had to focus on the mind-body connection to get into the mindset of his character. Taking time to slow down and relax is an essential part of any good fitness routine.

He eats a plant-based diet

Leto is living proof that you don't need to eat meat in order to build muscle. He began his journey to veganism as a teenager, when he decided to stop eating meat. He gave up dairy shortly after, and now, Leto has been vegan for over two decades. He typically eats a relatively low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. Clearly, it's working out pretty well for him, as he credits his vegan lifestyle for his health. A vegan chef comes on tour with Thirty Seconds to Mars — even when the band did their "Carnivore Tour" with Linkin Park, Leto was still fueling up on fruits and vegetables backstage. In 2014, he was even named PETA's "Sexiest Vegan."

Leto says that his favorite vegan foods include popcorn, veggies, vegan hot chocolate with almond milk, and buckwheat pancakes. However, he does admit to cheating every once in a while and indulging in treats that contain milk or eggs. But he draws the line at consuming meat, even on special occasions.

He packed in the protein shakes

Obviously, protein is essential for building muscle, and this was one of Leto's primary objectives when he was getting ready to play the Joker. But as a vegan, he had to get a little more creative than the other cast members. He couldn't exactly rely on red meat and eggs for his protein needs, and he wasn't about to start putting whey protein or collagen into his shakes and smoothies. He managed to stick with his plant-based diet and still get into fantastic shape.

Leto focused on eating plenty of plant-based protein throughout the day while training for the Joker. After every single workout, he drank a vegan protein shake. His recipe, as prescribed by Johnston? Water, ice, vegan protein powder, almond butter, fruit, and a little bit of Stevia just to sweeten it up. Sure, this sounds tasty, but drinking it multiple times a day for months at a time had to get boring. Regardless, Leto definitely got the results he was hoping for.

He ate every two hours

To get ready to play the Joker, Leto had to eat every two hours throughout the day. In order to get through those intense workouts, Leto had to consume extra calories to fuel up. Plus, Johnston advised the cast to eat every two hours in order to keep their metabolism working hard.

It was especially important that Leto eat frequently, since plant foods are not as calorie dense as animal products. One of his favorite easy meals in between training sessions? Vegan tacos. Leto admits that he is "actually terrible" at sticking to meal plans that require him to eat constantly. This is one reason why he discourages other actors from signing on to roles that require them to gain a lot of weight. The process has been so tough on his body in the past that he doesn't like seeing his co-stars go through it, too. As Leto gets older, he might end up stepping away from roles like this so that he can stick with his normal health and fitness routines.

He was inspired by his role models

How did Leto motivate himself to get through all of those tough training sessions and stick to his diet plan? While he spent a ton of time training with the rest of the cast in Toronto, he also did many of his pre-Joker workouts in his home gym, which he decorated with pictures of the comic book Joker as well as photos of Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Looking at those two champions would probably inspire anyone to push themselves a little bit harder during their workouts! Many people need a little extra boost of encouragement to motivate themselves while they work out, and Leto is no different from the rest of us in that regard.

Leto describes himself as a bit of a homebody, and he clearly spends a lot of his time at home in his gym. When he was training with his co-stars, they also encouraged each other to finish strong. Working out with the cast meant that everyone had to strive to keep up.

He always gets enough sleep

So, what is Leto's number one fitness secret? Believe it or not, it isn't going vegan, drinking protein shakes every day, or working out with other people for motivation. Nope — Leto says that his primary piece of advice is something that seems so obvious, yet many people still underestimate its importance. When it comes to getting in shape and looking your best, Leto told Rolling Stone, "I would tell everyone to sleep as much as you can."

With his crazy schedule, Leto knows that it's crucial to get that full eight hours of sleep every night. From concerts to the gym to the recording studio to the set of whatever film he's working on, he needs to be able to perform at his best every moment of the day. Some people assume that musicians and actors would rather go out every night than crawl into bed early, but for Leto, this isn't the case.

He meditates daily

Leto doesn't just focus on improving his physical health when he's getting ready to take on a new role. He also understands the importance of mental health. Leto says that he meditates every single day. Meditation is a non-negotiable part of his daily routine, but like many people, just sitting in silence can be challenging. Instead, Leto follows guided meditations from an app. This is also an easy way for him to make sure that he stays on track with his mindfulness practice while on the road.

It's no surprise that an actor and musician like Leto would focus on meditation and incorporate it into his routine. Leto says that meditation helps keep him creatively inspired. In order to get in the right headspace to play so many different characters, it's important for him to be able to block out all of the distractions around him and just focus on his role.

He is totally sober

It's easy to assume that an actor who dives deeply into their roles like Leto might be experimenting with some illicit substances off screen. After all, Leto did live on the street with addicts to prepare for his role in Requiem for a Dream. But even then, Leto didn't partake, and he says that at this point, he has been totally straight edge for many years. He doesn't even drink alcohol anymore.

Leto admitted to getting into some trouble in his younger days due to his previous alcohol and drug use. However, he eventually changed his ways, and he knows that he made the right choice. "I guess at some point, too, there's a decision: Is this going to be my life?" Leto told Rolling Stone. "I made a choice to pursue other dreams… the risk versus reward is out of line. I just saw too many examples of what not to do."

He loves rock climbing

Rock climbing is one of Leto's favorite hobbies. Whether he's trying to get in shape for a particular role or not, he always makes time for rock climbing. It's not just a workout for him — it's also stress relief and a way to stay balanced in the chaotic world of Hollywood. "Any day I have at least a few moments in nature, I kind of feel better," he told Rolling Stone.

One of Leto's favorite climbs is the 3,600 foot-tall El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He loves to challenge himself and guide his friends through difficult climbs — the more the merrier on the trail. As evidenced by his Instagram posts, he's been scaling cliffs quite regularly lately. There's no doubt that rock climbing will help him get in shape again to play Morbius. But if you're a fan of Leto, don't bank on running into him while he's in the mountains — he doesn't share the locations of his climbs!

He's doing cardio

Leto has not yet given any specific details away about his workouts for Morbius. However, he does post pretty frequently on Instagram. So far, it looks like he's been working out on his elliptical, and he also says that he's been going for daily morning bike rides — even while he's on tour! Now that's dedication. Of course, touring is probably a workout in itself. Although he hasn't posted about any bodybuilding workouts yet, he's most likely sticking with a lifting routine as well.

Morbius isn't due out for release until July 2020, with shooting having commenced in March 2019. Once production has wrapped, fans will probably start getting some more details about the film. Until then, we'll be in the dark about this vampire flick, but with his unmatched commitment to his work, Leto is sure to deliver as the star.