Joker may end up taking the #3 spot at on the box office charts this weekend, but it stayed at the top for two weeks before that, and it’s already raked in over $619.5 million worldwide. People can’t stop talking about Todd Phillips‘ grimy, twisted origin story for Batman’s arch nemesis, for better or worse, and the awards buzz for the DC Comics movie is high. But if Suicide Squad star Jared Leto had his way, no one would have seen the movie at all.
Reportedly, when news broke of a Joker origin story in the works from Todd Phillips at Warner Bros. Pictures, Jared Leto tried to stop the movie from getting made. Not only did he ask his agents at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to stop the movie before it ever got off the ground (his agents just so happened to represent Phillips too), but he even went so far as to ask his 30 Seconds to Mars music manager Irving Azoff at Full Stop Management to call the head of TimeWarner/Warner Media and pull the plug on the movie.
The Hollywood Reporter has this story from unnamed sources and no comment from any of the parties actually involved. But their sources indicated that Leto felt that his agents at CAA made the mistake of not telling him about the existence of this Joker origin movie before the news was announced. Leto also supposedly felt like Warner Bros. possibly placated him by supposedly developing a standalone movie for his version of the Joker (which we heard about in the summer of 2018).
The reason for a lack of support for Leto’s version of the Joker appears to stem from two different issues. First of all, by the time the standalone Joker origin movie had been announced, Leto had already dispatched with four other teams of agents at CAA. That resulted in his then-current team not really feeling like going above and beyond to do as the actor requested. Leto’s music manager seemed to have felt the same way, because he never made the call that was requested. Since then, Leto has jumped ship to the William Morris Endeavor (WME) agency (though apparently it had nothing to do with the Joker situation), and he also left Full Stop Management.
Furthermore, Warner Bros. wasn’t keen on doing much more with Jared Leto’s take on the Clown Prince of Crime. Not only was director David Ayer said to be displeased with Leto’s performance (which would explain all of the cut footage that Leto said was even left out of the extended cut of the movie). Meanwhile, the studio also wasn’t happy with his highly publicized, in-character behavior during production that resulted in a live rat being sent to Margot Robbie, among other weird gifts he sent to the set of the movie.
Funnily enough, Warner Bros. didn’t think the Todd Phillips Joker movie was going to be a big deal. Because they were nervous about the movie’s dark nature and likely R-rating, the studios gave it a small budget with the hopes that it might actually discourage Phillips from sticking with the project. Even after the movie was greenlit, Warner Bros. ended up splitting the financing with Bron Studios and Village Roadshow. Unfortunately for them, that means they also have to split the profits now.
As for Jared Leto, it appears he may be done playing the Joker. The upcoming Birds of Prey movie with Margot Robbie reprising her Suicide Squad role as Harley Quinn does not have the actor back as Joker. The spin-off movie even has Harley Quinn supposedly breaking up with Joker and being very bitter about it. Plus, with Warner Bros. moving away from the DC Extended Universe established by Zack Snyder, and James Gunn stepping up to direct The Suicide Squad for 2021 without a role for Jared Leto, there doesn’t seem to be much room for his metal-grilled, Ed Hardy-esque take on the villain.
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