Jared Leto Recalls First Learning About the Coronavirus Pandemic After Leaving Silent Retreat

"It was like coming out to the zombie apocalypse," Jared Leto told Jimmy Fallon while recalling the moment he left a two-week silent meditation and first heard about the spread of COVID-19.

By Elyse Dupre Jan 26, 2021 1:21 PMTags
Watch: Jared Leto Had "No Idea" About Coronavirus

When Jared Leto walked into his two-week silent meditation, he never imagined he'd walk out to a global pandemic. But that's exactly what happened last March. During the Jan. 26 episode of The Tonight Show, the 49-year-old actor recalled resurfacing from the retreat and learning how much the coronavirus spread. 

"When I went away, there were about 150 cases," he remembered, "and just in that short amount of time, when I came out, there was a shutdown, a state of emergency and the whole world had changed." 

Because the silent meditation aimed to eliminate distractions, Leto didn't talk to anyone, didn't watch any TV and didn't have his phone for nearly two weeks. He also said the teachers didn't alert the students.

"They made a decision, 'Let's not disturb the participants,'" the Oscar winner said. "And I didn't turn on my phone until I went back to L.A. So, I drove the whole way trying to be, like, peaceful and zen, keep the feeling going. I got back, and I was, you know, kind of shocked. It was like Rip Van Winkle."

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While the Suicide Squad star felt like he had "this great tool" to "deal with stress" after leaving the meditation, he said he doesn't think anything could "quite prepare any us for what we all went through in the beginning" of the ongoing pandemic. As he put it, "It was like coming out to the zombie apocalypse."

Leto also captured what he was feeling at the time in an Instagram post shared in March. "Wow. 12 days ago I began a silent meditation in the desert," he wrote. "We were totally isolated. No phone, no communication etc. We had no idea what was happening outside the facility. Walked out yesterday into a very different world. One that's been changed forever. Mind-blowing—to say the least."

He then informed his followers he was still "getting messages from friends and family all around the globe and catching up on what's going on."

"Hope you and yours are OK," he concluded. "Sending positive energy to all. Stay inside. Stay safe."

Watch the video to hear him recall that exact moment.

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