It looks like Jared Leto’s run as DC villain Joker will have come to an end with only around ten minutes of screen time.
The Oscar-winning actor, whose credits include Dallas Buyers Club and Blade Runner 2049, tried to put in his all in Suicide Squad. Around the time of that film’s release word spread that Leto had gone all “method” with the role, even trying to mess with his cast mates by reportedly sending them bullets, a dead pig, anal beads and used condoms. … yeah. Well, it was an effort that clearly didn’t have the result he was aiming for. Not only was his part edited down severely, down to around 10 minutes on screen, but the DC movies kept on rolling without him.
Bringing us to the Todd Phillips-directed Joker, an acclaimed, hugely successful film that has earned Joaquin Phoenix Oscar buzz for his take on the Gotham antagonist. At the time of writing, the film has earned over $US737 million from an estimated production budget of $US55 million. It’s a big hit, and it’s one that Leto reportedly tried to stop.
According to a report by THR, Leto “not only complained bitterly to his agents”, he tried “to get Warners to kill the Phillips film.” The outlet’s sources claim that he tried to get his music manager at the time, Irving Azoff, to contact Warner heads and get the movie scrapped before it got off the ground. Leto’s camp is denying this.
Leto had reportedly been left “alienated and upset” by WB’s decision to get Phoenix to lead a solo Joker movie. Some reports say that Leto felt as though the studio was pulling him along with suggestions of a future with the character and franchise, which hasn’t resulted in anything after Suicide Squad.
At one point there were two Joker movies in the works: one that would continue Leto’s Joker after Suicide Squad and one that would serve as a more of an experimental one-off feature; the latter became Phoenix’s Joker film and the former seemingly just disappeared. There was even a Joker and Harley Quinn spinoff movie in the works at one point, which would have had Leto reuniting with Margot Robbie. That didn’t get off the ground, and WB instead focused on the Robbie-led Birds of Prey film.
This all reportedly fueled clashes between Leto and his CAA agents. THR’s sources say that Leto felt as though CAA “should have told him about the Phillips project earlier and fought harder for his version of Joker.” Furthermore, that “Leto had burned through four different teams of agents at CAA and there was little love for the actor there.” Leto left CAA and moved to competing agency WME last year.
It must be pointed out that there’s no word from official Warner Bros. on this and Leto’s camp is saying that the actor’s move from CAA has nothing to do with these Joker issues.
Time will tell if Leto ever reprises the role, but it doesn’t look likely. Phoenix’s Joker continues to rake it in, and you can safely assume that WB is looking at how best to capitalise in that direction.