C’mon, Jared. Why so serious?
Photo: Warner Bros.

Maybe he should send fewer condoms to people? Yeah, fewer condoms, Jared, let’s go with that.

Ever since Leto donned the #damaged tattoo and became Suicide Squad’s clown prince of crime, there have been as many rumors that he would get his own series of spinoff movies—whether it was solo projects or tag-teams with Margot Robbie’s far-better-received Harley Quinn—as there were allegations that Leto’s approach to method acting for the role saw him become a straight-up nightmare on set.

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As persistent as those rumors were, they’ve not really amounted to anything yet as Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have radically re-arranged their approach to DC Comics movies in the wake of Justice League’s successful-but-not-great box office arrival a few years ago. Batfleck? Out. Henry Cavill? Off stabbing monsters for Netflix. Gal Gadot? She’ll get back to us, eventually (god why is Wonder Woman 1984 still so far away in this cruel timeline). For now, we’ve got a swathe of far more experimental and tonally varied DC Superhero movies on the slate to deal with, from the earnest comedy vibes of Shazam! to the fun-dumb action spectacle of Aquaman.

Then there’s Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, a film that—whether you loved or loathed it—is unlike anything else to come out of DC’s cinematic slate so far. And it is huge, raking in as of this weekend, just shy of $738 million, and on set to swipe Deadpool’s crown as the highest-grossing R-Rated film of all time. A fact that has reportedly left Jared Leto very, very mad. Or really, just the very existence of the film itself.

The Hollywood Reporter alleged this weekend that Leto has been fuming over Joker for a considerable period of time at this point. The trade, citing sources involved with Jared’s former Hollywood agency CAA—as well as ones “familiar with Leto’s behavior”—claimed that upon learning that Warner Bros. had chosen to greenlit Phillips’ experimental origin story over a project involving his version of the Joker, Leto “bitterly complained” to his agency. Beyond that, he also apparently attempted to get his music manager, Irving Azoff, to contact the head of Warner’s parent conglomerate to try and get Phillip’s film not just delayed, but canceled.

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It’s not the first time that Leto’s...let’s say controversial take on the Joker has been subject to behind-the-scenes drama. Beyond the allegations of on-set antics like sending rats and even a pig carcass to his Suicide Squad castmates, Leto has long alleged that a significant amount of the scenes he filmed for the movie were removed from the final cut. Him acting out of sorts over a rival Joker project being made at the expense of investing in his own take on the character would be at the very least understandable, even if, y’know, we forgot about the nightmare condom situation.

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Whatever it was, Leto’s relationship with Warner beyond the Joker doesn’t seem to have been harmed—he’s still making films with the studio. Leto eventually departed from CAA over the summer, joining the WME talent agency, so perhaps his frustration was more directly with the agency (who Phillips himself was also contracted with at the time) more so than it truly was at Joker’s existence.

But there’s likewise been reports that part of the ongoing re-shuffling of DC’s movie slate at Warner (which now includes projects that have been trying to get off of the ground for years, like Black Adam, and bonkers new additions like Ava DuVernay’s New Gods) that Leto’s short-lived time as the Joker was already being wrapped up. Reports that now seem even likelier given that Joker, to the tune of several box office records, has immediately established Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck as a more compelling iteration for audiences to watch unfold.

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We’ll likely never know the full extent of Leto’s purported frustrations, but they don’t seem to have done anything to change the fate of his take on one of DC’s most iconic villains. Joker is dead, long live Joker.

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