Though he was reportedly gunning for the job of leading Marvel’s Doctor Strange, it appears that Jared Leto might be filling even bigger shoes when he makes his comic book movie debut. The Wrap reports that the actor is being eyed to play The Joker in director David Ayer’s (Fury) DC Comics adaptation Suicide Squad, which also has Tom Hardy, Will Smith, and Margot Robbie in various stages of negotiations to star. So, yeah, that might be happening. More after the jump.
Per The Wrap, Leto is circling a key role in Suicide Squad “that could prove to be The Joker.” Not the strongest of language there, but the report does add that when Ryan Gosling was mentioned in connection with Suicide Squad, he was being sought to play the part of The Joker. Gosling wasn’t keen on signing a deal with options for multiple movies so he passed, but it appears that his loss just might be Leto’s gain.
It’s no secret that Leto really wanted the leading role in Marvel’s Doctor Strange, with many reports saying he was pursuing the part. Joaquin Phoenix was initially in talks for the Marvel picture, but when he dropped out Leto once again entered the conversation. Now that Benedict Cumberbatch is in talks to lead Doctor Strange (Marvel reportedly wanted a “more established star”, though I don’t see how Cumberbatch is more established than Leto), Leto was once again out of the running. However, Warner Bros. came knocking with quite the role, should The Wrap’s report pan out.
For those unfamiliar with Suicide Squad, the DC comic revolves around a team of antihero supervillains who work for the U.S. government, undertaking dangerous missions in exchange for commuted prison sentences. The picture is set as the first DC adaptation after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Warner Bros. is obviously aiming high in the casting department. In addition to Hardy, Smith, and Robbie possibly taking on lead roles, we recently learned that Jesse Eisenberg may reprise his BvS role of Lex Luthor in the film as well.
Leto, of course, is coming off of winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar last year for a fantastic performance in Dallas Buyers Club. He took a lengthy break from acting in order to focus on music (he’s the frontman of 30 Second to Mars), but has been no doubt very much in demand following his Oscar win. With his interest in Doctor Strange and now Suicide Squad, it’s clear he’s keen on making the move to franchise pictures.
Heath Ledger casts a long shadow with his seminal portrayal of the famous Batman villain in The Dark Knight (for which he was awarded a posthumous Oscar), so if Leto is indeed eyeing the role of The Joker, he’s got a mighty challenge ahead of him. A recent rumor surfaced that Harley Quinn may also be in the film, so the Joker addition makes sense. It would also serve to further flesh out Warner Bros.’ DC Movie Universe, which will get a big jumpstart with the superhero-filled Batman v Superman and includes not only two Justice League movies, but also a Batman reboot.
The first draft of Suicide Squad reportedly did not include the character of The Joker, but The Wrap says Ayer is expected to include the character in his revision. This is a curious development to be sure, and I’m interested to see if we get some kind of official word soon. Suicide Squad is slated for release on August 5, 2016.