Though Jared Leto is a fascinating pop culture icon to some, he’s a much more controversial figure to others. The actor and musician has also recently branched out into a more spiritual role, which has left a number of people uneasy about him. Gossip Cop noted how much animosity was aimed at Leto and we were curious as to why that was. Let’s just say, our research provided illuminating results.
While Jared Leto may seem like any other hunky Hollywood actor/singer, there’s a lot more going on with the handsome star than meets the eye. While other actors and bands have fans, Leto and his band 30 Seconds To Mars have a “cult.” That’s only a slight exaggeration since the band has often referred to their followers and themselves as a cult, though it all originally started out as something of a joke. Leto said as much during a New York Times Magazine interview in 2013, telling the outlet it was “a joke, a response to journalists saying, ‘You have such a cult following.’”
Jared Leto: Cult Leader?
From that joke, however, sprung what some people believe to be an actual cult. For instance, in 2019 the band hosted a retreat for fans on an island in Croatia. Photos of the gathering caused a stir online, especially since most of the people in the photos were wearing white and Jared Leto himself was wearing an all-white ensemble and looked eerily similar to Jesus.
The band didn’t really help their case by posting a series of photos from the retreat on Twitter with the caption, “Yes, this is a cult,” followed by a triangle emoji. Fans at the band’s concerts can often be found throwing up a hand gesture imitating the triangle as well.
A Pricey Fandom
Another way the band’s following resembles a real-life cult is all the money. These intimate retreats aren’t cheap, with Camp Mars, a two-night outdoor camping experience in Malibu held September 7-9, 2019, costing participants $999. That’s the bare bottom price, for which ticket buyers would have to bring their own tent. If event-goers wanted a more exclusive dorm experience, they’d have to fork out even more, with the high-end “VIPs” paying as much as $6,499 to have their own space. That’s not the only fan event that fans had to shell out exorbitant amounts of money to pay for. There have been claims that 30 Seconds to Mars has charged fans as much as $900 for meet and greet sessions according to one blogger who allegedly attended such an event in 2013. As a comparison, Rihanna charged $116 in 2015, and Taylor Swift has always made it a point to make her meet and greet events free. Fans don’t really seem to mind the high price tags, however, with some posting online afterward that though the price was a bit overboard, the experience was ultimately worth it.
Despite these fans’ experience, the band has been called out in the past for allegedly wearing surgical gloves during a meet and greet. Though such an action seems practical in this age of COVID-19, this photo was from 2013, where it was taken more as a slight against fans than a precautionary measure. Time really does change perspectives, doesn’t it?
Besides the whole “cult” thing, which really does seem more tongue-in-cheek than anything else, there’s Jared Leto’s intense dedication to committing to his characters even when he’s not on camera. Perhaps the most infamous example of this behavior occurred while Leto was filming Suicide Squad.
Leto’s Infamous Joker Gifts
He was cast as the Joker, one of the most challenging comic book character roles an actor can take on. For this role, Leto went straight method with his behavior and would send bizarre “gifts” to his costars. Will Smith received a box of bullets, Viola Davis received a dead pig, and perhaps most alarmingly, Margot Robbie received a live, black rat.
It was even rumored that Leto sent a used condom to one unlucky costar, but Leto himself refuted this rumor, though he was also likely the one who started the rumor in the first place. Of the rumor, Leto explained, “Most of it was total bullshit. Like that I was giving used condoms to people, which was not true. It doesn’t matter how loud you shout or hold up a sign with your pants off in Times Square — people will run the story that they want.” Even though he eventually denied the rumor, the damage was already done. People believed the disgusting, viral rumor and Leto’s reputation suffered a bit as a result.
It didn’t help that Leto’s interpretation of the Joker was widely disliked by both hardcore comic fans and more casual moviegoers. Much of the criticism has nothing to do with Leto’s actual performance, however. The costume design, which featured a tattooed, grill-wearing “gangster” version of Joker, didn’t inspire much praise. Joker’s role in the film was also just to be part of the sub-plot and was quickly disposed of by the film’s protagonists, which seemed to waste the character’s potential. Suicide Squad largely bombed at the box office, and critics were not gentle in their reviews of the film, but it’s unfair to place the blame solely at Leto’s feet. Although the movie boasted a star-studded cast, it just couldn’t overcome the combined weight of a “muddled plot” and “choppy directing.”
It’s more than true that Jared Leto is a strange character, but the idea that he’s supposedly a maniacal cult leader who delights in committing disgusting pranks on his co-stars is pretty laughable. People can love him or hate him if they want, and even spend thousands of dollars to hang out with him for a few moments if that’s what makes them happy. All in all, Leto is a fairly benign, if kooky, character, which is probably an aspect that is highly appealing to fans. If he starts building a compound, we might start to worry.