Birthdate: December 26, 1971
Birthplace: Bossier City, Louisiana, USA
The evolution of Jared Leto’s (birthname: Jared Joseph Leto) acting career—one he didn’t intend when he jumped into the film business—is from being a mere actor to a chameleonic screen presence. His first phase, which runs from 1995 and his feature debut in How to Make an American Quilt to Lonely Hearts in 2006, involved Leto establishing himself as an interesting supporting actor with the visible potential for leading status.
That came in 2007 when Leto played John Lennon’s assassin, Mark David Chapman, in Chapter 27, and continued with Leto top-lining Jaco Van Dormael’s ambitious fantasy, Mr. Nobody. Quite often, actors who win an Oscar experience a career dip; it even happened to such greats as George C. Scott after Patton (1970). Not for Jared Leto. His flamboyant performance as an ailing gay man in Dallas Buyers Club (2013), for which he won a flurry of awards including the supporting actor Oscar, catapulted his worldwide status and visibility.
He joined The Suicide Squad (2016) as The Joker, the first time that character appeared in a movie not featuring Batman, then followed with a string of starring and supporting characters living on the dark side—Nick in the Yakuza-themed The Outsider (2018), killer Albert Sparma in The Little Things (2021), his reprise of The Joker in Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) and his controversial turn as Paolo Gucci in The House of Gucci (2021), which garnered both serious awards talk as well as a Razzie for worst performance of the year.
Jared Leto has steered a second career as band leader of a busily touring unit known as 30 Seconds to Mars (including directing and performing in over a dozen of the group’s music videos). He has a third career as an entrepreneur specializing in minority and majority investments in high-tech startups and diversifying in such brands as Blue Bottle Coffee, exemplifying one of the ways in which the current generation of movie stars have learned to expand their business away from the movies themselves.
Before he had movie ambitions, Jared Leto desired to be a visual artist. This led him to study at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, but his efforts to transfer to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts failed when he was turned down. His education ended after he transferred to New York’s School of Visual Arts, from which he soon dropped out.
At this point, he set his sights on a movie career in Los Angeles, determining that doing some acting would train him on being a director. Leto’s first two years in Hollywood were in the TV business, most notably in My So-Called Life opposite Claire Danes (1994-1995). He stayed away from TV for the next 26 years until 2022, when he appeared as Adam Neumann in the streaming series, WeCrashed.
Leto is solidifying his position as a leading man with Morbius (2022), a dark-tinged entry in the Marvel Comics Universe, and as the star of Darren Aronofsky’s thriller, Adrift (2023). It marks Leto’s reunion with Aronofsky, who directed him in Requiem for a Dream in 2000.
Jared Leto was born in the small Louisiana town of Bossier City to parents Connie (Metrejon) Leto and Tony Bryant. When Leto was 12, his family lived briefly in Haiti where his mother Connie worked for a medical charity organization. He attended Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. He was engaged to Cameron Diaz from 2000 to 2002. Jared Leto has provided financial and physical aid to survivors of the disastrous 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Leto’s height is 5’ 11’’. His net worth is $90 million. He has never married and has no children.
O baby: Jared Leto was born at midnight.
Beautiful: Early in his career, in 1995, Leto was selected as one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People.
AKA: Leto uses the pseudonym of Bartholomew Cubbins, inspired by Dr. Seuss, as a director of music videos and short films.
What’s in a name? : He adopted the surname of Leto from his adoptive father.
Music Man: Jared Leto leads his own band, 30 Seconds to Mars, with his brother Shannon Leto.
World Record: Leto’s band, 30 Seconds to Mars, is entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for performing the longest concert tour—300 shows across two years.
Extreme measures: Leto lost 28 pounds preparing for his role in Requiem for a Dream and 35 pounds for his Oscar-winning role in Dallas Buyers Club, but gained 62 pounds for the role of Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 only to lose that weight with a liquid diet.
No joke: Jared Leto is the fourth actor to both win an Oscar and play the role of The Joker, following Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Joaquin Phoenix.
Near miss: Leto nearly never played the role of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, for which he won the Oscar for best-supporting actor. He had wanted to devote time to his band but then changed his mind to pursue the role.
Method man: Leto can use extreme measures to get into a character, such as watching endless hours of real-crime footage on YouTube in preparation for Suicide Squad.
Auto-didact: Jared Leto has done no actual acting training.
Businessman: Leto was an initial investor in home security company Nest before Google bought it, has been invested in over 50 high-tech firms and other companies such as Blue Bottle Coffee and owns four startups, including VIP experiences company, Adventures in Wonderland. These firms are organized under the umbrella company, The Sisyphus Corporation.
High-end tattoos: Leto’s many tattoos, all of them thematically connected to his band 30 Seconds to Mars, have been done by legendary tattoo artist Mark Mahoney.
Sexy: PETA named Jared Leto the sexiest vegetarian in 2014.
Minister: Leto is an ordained minister in the Universal Life church.
Model actor: He has served as the face of luxury brands Gucci and Carrera.
Home base: Leto’s 50,000 square-foot, 1.7-acre Los Angeles home is a former Air Force base homestead property on Lookout Mountain.
A new look: Leto started growing his hair long in 2016 to prepare for The Outsider, and hasn’t since cut his hair to its previously shorter length.