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

Movie Roles That Jared Leto Risked His Health For

Being a method actor sometimes entails putting the body through intense training and/or suffering so that the actor can better embody a character. From extracting wisdom teeth without anesthesia or selling all worldly possessions, there have been plenty of ways method actors have taken things too far, but things really start to get into murky territory when an actor puts their physical health in jeopardy

Jared Leto's no stranger to going the extra mile for a film role as long as it doesn't mean getting on Denzel Washington's bad side. Most notably, his antics behind the scenes when he played Joker for Suicide Squad made headlines when he reportedly gave his co-stars all kinds of bizarre gifts like dead rats and bullets, although the actor insists many of those details were exaggerated. The stories may have been weird, but at least no one got hurt during the proceedings. 

Suicide Squad may have been big news, but it's far from the most extreme measure Leto has taken to get inside the mind of his character. In other instances, he's literally put his health on the line all for the sake of looking a certain way for a role, dropping or gaining a ton of weight in a short amount of time. Such changes put a huge strain on your body and can have serious long-term side effects (via Livestrong). Leto seems like a healthy guy, but we're betting his doctor was more than a little stressed out during his time filming the following roles.

Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27

The assassination of former Beatle John Lennon shocked the world. The case became all the more notorious when his killer, Mark David Chapman, suggested songs from The Beatles inspired a rage within him, and there's the infamous connection to Catcher in the Rye. It all made for the perfect Oscar bait-y movie with Jared Leto playing the role of the deranged killer, which has become something of a specialty for the actor over the course of his career. 

As a heavier-set man, Chapman doesn't immediately stand out with any similarities to Leto, which is why the actor packed on over 65 pounds to adequately portray him. Reports after the movie was released point out how Leto gained that much weight by eating "microwaved pints of ice cream mixed with olive oil and soy sauce" (via The Hollywood Reporter). It proved to be too much too fast as a host of medical problems soon followed. 

Leto later suggested that all the additional weight caused him to get gout, which made it immensely difficult to walk (via Digital Spy). He even said he had to use a wheelchair because it was too painful to walk long distances on his own. Reflecting back, Leto said, "It took about a year to get back to a place that felt semi-normal. I don't know if I'll ever be back to the place I was physically." On top of all that, it was all for naught as Chapter 27 flopped at the box office and was critically panned upon release.

Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club

Back in 2013, Leto took to Twitter to state how he weighed 148 pounds, which is already on the lighter side for someone 5-foot-11 in height. It makes it all the more shocking that he managed to drop over 30 pounds from that to portray Rayon, an HIV-positive transgender woman who gradually becomes friends with Ron (Matthew McConaughey). 

For an interview with E! Online, Leto admits that he "basically didn't eat" in order to adequately portray someone struggling with HIV on top of a drug addiction. He even went on to compare the experience to other instances of him resorting to method acting: "I had done similar things with weight, but this was different. I think the role demanded that commitment... It was about how does that affect how I walk, how I talked, who I am, how I feel. You know, you feel very fragile and delicate and unsafe." 

His co-star McConaughey lost a similar amount of weight, and they both reaped the rewards this time around. McConaughey and Leto won awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, at that year's Oscars. Through all of this, Leto has maintained a strict regimen of veganism, mostly focusing on maintaining a low fat, high carb diet (via Joe). He also exercises regularly under normal circumstances, and for the sake of his health, hopefully his days of rapidly dropping and packing on extreme amounts of weight are over.