Everything You Need to Know About Jared Leto's Joker in 'Suicide Squad'

Everything You Need to Know About Jared Leto's Joker in 'Suicide Squad'

Aug 04, 2016

With Suicide Squad arriving in theaters this week, it's time to finally get to know the new Joker. How does he fit into the movie? Will Jared Leto's portrayal be as iconic as Heath Ledger's? We learned answers to these and other questions when we visited the set of the DC supervillain movie last year, and now we're permitted to share. 


Moving On From Heath Ledger

One thing fans have been asking since the character was first revealed to be a part of Suicide Squad is how can there be another Joker so soon after Ledger's Oscar-winning performance? "When you have someone as talented as Jared, and then you accept that Heath (Ledger) happened and that The Dark Knight happened, you just move forward," director David Ayer told us. "He’s the oldest, most well-known villain in modern culture. To leave him out I think would be a shame."

Ayer went on to address the importance of the Joker as a recognizable character. "We instantly know who he is," he said. "We know how he makes us feel. We know how he's going to behave. Just one little drawn picture of him, and a character that fantastically iconic and powerful almost emerges by itself. Once you start touching that character and playing with that character, he really does reveal himself in a lot of ways. He's so defined." 

At the same time, Leto is a totally new take on the character from what Ledger did and will maybe be just as memorable but in a different way. "Jared has done nothing short of utterly transforming himself," Ayer explained. "He's done an incredible amount of work with the mannerisms, his voice and everything. When he steps on set, you feel it. You feel the energy. The crew feels it. It's going to be, I believe, nothing short of a revelation.”

The Joker Means Business

So how is this Joker different?

He's still the prince of crime, Batman's archenemy and the ex-lover of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), but Suicide Squad portrays him with a fresh twist. “He's a business man,” producer Richard Suckle revealed. “He's crazy, of course, and he kills people, but he's running a business. If you could imagine the head of any successful corporation, he runs his business that way. He just happens to be a psychopath."

So he's not the gangster we saw in Tim Burton's Batman or the anarchist in Christopher Nolan's movie. He sounds flashier than the former and more socially and economically minded than the latter. And he apparently cares what people think of him. "He's very conscientious of his business and he's also very conscientious of the way he dresses," Suckle added. "Style is a really big part of this Joker. He sets trends, and I really think you haven't seen this version of the Joker ever before.”

His Body Art Is No Joke

Part of this Joker's striking appearance is his tattoos. Each represents something in particular, including the smile on his arm, which he lifts to his face to replicate the iconic "Joker smile" from the comics. “The tattoos were a big part of the design of the character,” Suckle explained. “I think you'll see a number of different designs. David (Ayer) found a really fantastically talented local tattoo artist, a guy by the name of Rob Coutts, who designed all those tattoos and everything you see that's on Jared. He was a great addition and a real blessing for us to find him.” 

He's Got His Own Squad Goals

So how is the Joker involved with the movie's titular supervillain team? “He’s not,” explained Suckle. "He gets jealous that Harley Quinn has joined the Suicide Squad and has a new set of friends. So he creates his own team of villains from a group of third rate criminals that include Jonny Frost (Jim Parrack), Monster T (Common), a man with a baby face and a character with a giant eyeball for a head."

Suicide Squad opens on August 5. Additional reporting for this article comes from Jami Philbrick.


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