When the dispatches out of the Blade Runner 2049 set remained focused on the actual movie and not some outsize shenanigans, we began to doubt Jared Leto’s commitment to method acting. Even though only he has a “small part” in Denis Villenueve’s sequel as Neander Wallace, the character seems to be deeply involved in the creation of replicants, so we naturally assumed that Leto would get a job at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Japan or something. Not only is Leto notorious for going to great, obnoxious lengths to get into character, but he’s a shrewd tech investor, having recognized the potential of Uber and Airbnb. At the very least, you’d think he’d mail Fleshlights to Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, you know, to get into the spirit of Neander.
Well, it took a while, but we finally have evidence of Leto’s dedication to his craft. In this fawning Wall Street Journal profile, we learn that while the erstwhile Joker didn’t pursue a degree in robotics, he went out of his way to portray a blind person. Leto ordered custom contacts that were entirely opaque, thereby impairing his vision, so much so that he apparently never laid eyes on the rest of the cast. So he presumably missed out on Ford shooting a “the fuck is this guy’s problem?” look at Gosling.
Some people would read or see that and think, “Okay, that’s just Leto,” and go about their day, or otherwise laugh in disbelief. But Villeneuve was so impressed by Leto’s purchasing of contacts and insistence on wearing them that he was moved to literal tears at the sight of him. From the WSJ article:
“He entered the room, and he could not see at all,” Villeneuve recalls. “He was walking with an assistant, very slowly. It was like seeing Jesus walking into a temple. Everybody became super silent, and there was a kind of sacred moment. Everyone was in awe. It was so beautiful and powerful—I was moved to tears. And that was just a camera test!”
The director says that while he had read stories about Leto’s methods and “how he transforms into the characters,” they “didn’t prepare” him for the actor’s messianic arrival. But Leto doesn’t think he quite lived up to his unhinged personality, telling WSJ he “didn’t dive as deep down the rabbit hole as maybe I’ve done before, but I stayed really focused.” And that’s a fair point—that’s a move out of costuming 101. It’s nothing like, say, giving birth out of his “prick hole,” which is how we got a Manic Panic Joker last summer. But that could have been the first part of a Holy Trinity of roles Leto’s setting up—it looks like we have the father and the son, so maybe his appearance in the forthcoming The Outsider will be the holy spirit.