A History of Jared Leto's Most Extreme Transformations Over the Years

Known for his "immersive" approach to acting, Jared Leto, who turned 52 on Dec. 26, has drastically transformed for several of his latest roles, including WeCrashed and House of Gucci.

By Tierney Bricker Dec 26, 2023 11:00 AMTags

At 52 years old, Jared Leto still loves to play. 

The Oscar-winning actor has become known for his commitment to his roles, including losing weight, gaining it back and wearing prosthetics to become completely unrecognizable. Then there was that time he dyed his hair green and shaved off his eyebrows to go after Batman. And two of Leto's most recent projects—the much-delayed superhero movie Morbius and the Apple TV+ drama WeCrashed—join the long list of examples of the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman dramatically transforming himself for his work.

While some may call it method acting, Leto prefers the term "immersive," telling E! News in March 2022, "I've spent a career immersively and it's quite an opportunity."

Leto inhabits his characters so fully that even those working alongside him feel like they aren't really interacting with the actor. Though she spent six months playing his onscreen wife in WeCrashed, Anne Hathaway told E! News at the series premiere that she only met the real version of the Requiem for a Dream star in the last few weeks. 

All the Jaw-Dropping 2022 Oscar Movie Transformations That Blew Us Away

"He has a really immersive process," Hathaway explained. "So much so that I just kind of met Jared for the first time a few days ago. He's so sweet and playful. It's funny, I'm getting to see some of the things that he brought to his character."

Fabio Lovino © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc., Getty Images, Shutterstock

It might be because Leto feels deeply connected to his roles, the actor admitting to Variety that "for me, they're like living, breathing people. I know they're not, of course, but I get attached. It's a shame to never do it again."

From the drastic weight gain that caused a serious medical condition to the prosthetics that so convincingly turned him into a member of the Gucci fashion family that his co-stars didn't even recognize him, here are Leto's most dramatic transformations.


Leto could not resist the chance to transform into a living vampire as the titular anti-hero in his new movie that is set in Sony Pictures' Universe of Marvel Characters.

"I loved that it was the very first time this character was going to be on screen," Leto told Variety. "I've always been interested in transformation, and this was a way to explore that territory in a big Marvel film. It was impossible to say no."

While he did not drink blood or shave his teeth into fangs for the role of Dr. Michael Morbius, Leto did extensive research on the rare, incurable condition his character has, speaking with doctors and patients who live with the blood disease. He also learned how to walk with a cane, though he did not want to share the details of his preparation for that aspect of the character.

"For me, it's an opportunity to learn," he said. "I don't want to get too specific because I'd like to keep some of that for myself. But I leaned in—no pun unintended. I'm a sucker for a pun, but I didn't mean that. I worked with people who had this specific physical challenge and modeled it after that."


WeImpressed by Leto's committed take on disgraced WeWork founder Adam Neumann in the Apple TV+ series, which debuted in March. 

To portray the businessman, whom he met in-person prior to filming, Leto sported prosthetics and used an Israeli accent, which he admitted was challenging to nail. 

Leto hired a team of five Israelies to rehearse lines with and attended Shabbat dinners so he could "hear that voice all the time," he explained To Variety, adding that his accents for WeWorked and House of Gucci began blurring together at one point.

"A couple of times, strangely towards the end of shooting WeCrashed, Paolo's [accent] started to come out a little bit," Leto said. "It was very bizarre. I don't know if it's because I got tired or if Paolo was just demanding my attention, but that can happen."

For Leto's facial transformation, Oscar-winning special effects makeup artist Kazu Hiro used precise prosthetics to achieve a realistic look, with the actor telling Entertainment Tonight, "There were some things happening there. It's very hard to do subtle work. In this one, we have some subtle things going on."

House of Gucci

Leto spent six hours in hair and makeup to portray the overweight and balding Paolo Gucci in House of Gucci, with Oscar-nominated designer Göran Lundström using a 3D scanner to make the prosthetics he wore. 

With Leto preferring to remain in character as the outlandish fashion designer as much as possible, Lundström told Variety, "We usually apply makeup on set, but Jared wanted us to apply this at a separate location. So, he would show up on set as Paolo Gucci."

And the actor's physical transformation was so realistic that his co-star Al Pacino didn't recognize him the first time they met.

"I showed up for the first day of work in character and I went up and said 'papa,' you know, papa in an accent, and he looked over and kind of just skirted away from me," Leto recalled on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. "I said, 'Oh, maybe he is a little grumpy, I don't know.' I said, 'Papa, it's me Paolo,' and he basically shuffled off again like, 'Who is this creep?'"

The Little Things

As creepy murder suspect Albert Sparma in the 2021 psychological thriller, Leto wore a subtle nose prosthetic, fake teeth and contacts to change his eye color. Like the film's title suggests, Leto's look was all about the small details.

"I think a lot of people don't notice these things, but together, they all add up to the final product," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "I had a different nose, which nobody brings up to me."

Leto also revealed the hair team tested "about 20 different, really horrible wigs" before ultimately deciding to keep his natural hair.  

Suicide Squad

Leto chopped off his signature ombre locks, bleached his hair and then dyed it green while also shaving off his eyebrows for his time as the Joker in the 2014 DC superhero flick. Add in lots of tattoos, including the word "Damaged" on his forehead, and silver teeth and you have the most extreme (and divisive) take on the legendary character yet. 

But his transformation into the supervillain extended beyond his appearance, with the actor sending gag gifts like "used condoms" and "anal beads" to his co-stars, including Viola Davis and Margot Robbie. (There were also rumors of Leto gifting a dead rat.)

"I did a lot of things to create a dynamic, to create an element of surprise, of spontaneity, and to really break down any kind of walls that may be there," he told E! News at the premiere. "The Joker is somebody who doesn't really respect things like personal space or boundaries."

But in 2021, Leto clarified the reports of his gag gifts, telling Entertainment Weekly, "Any of the very few gifts that were ever given were given with a spirit of fun and adventure and received with laughter, fun and adventure."

He added, "I'm playing a guy called the Joker, it's okay to play some jokes. Nothing ever crossed any lines, and it's not up to other people on the internet to create those lines… I'm an artist at the end of the day. If I do something risky and you don't like it, basically, you can kiss my ass."

Dallas Buyers Club

For his Oscar-winning turn as a transgender woman living with AIDS in the '80s, Leto dropped more than 30 pounds to appear sickly thin. 

"I got down to 116 or something," Leto told E! News in 2013. "I just basically didn't eat. I ate very little."

"I had done similar things with weight, but this was different," Leto continued. "I think the role demanded that commitment…It was about how does that affect how I walk, how I talked, who I am, how I feel. You know, you feel very fragile and delicate and unsafe."

Chapter 27

In 2007, Leto gained 67 pounds to portray Mark David Chapman, the man who assassinated John Lennon. The extra weight took such a toll on the actor that he could no longer walk to set by the end of production and was later diagnosed with gout and advised to .

"I'm not sure it was the wisest choice," he admitted to The Los Angeles Times that year. "A friend of mine was recently going to gain weight for a film, and I did my best to talk him out of it. Just because you can lose the weight doesn't mean the impact it had on you isn't there anymore."

But Leto felt it was a necessary aspect of the character.

"The script didn't say, 'Page 1: You gain 67 pounds, and you're miserable for two months,'" Leto explained. "But as I started to research, I realized that the physical representation of this guy had so much to do with who he was."

(Originally published on April 1, 2022, at 3:00 a.m. PT)

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