Jared Joseph Leto was born December 26, 1971 and is an American actor and singer-songwriter.
He was born in Bossier City, Louisiana, to Constance Leto (née Metrejon). His mother has Cajun ancestry. “Leto” is the surname of his stepfather. His parents divorced when he was a child, and he and his older brother, Shannon Leto, lived with their mother and their maternal grandparents, Ruby (Russell) and William Lee Metrejon. His father remarried, and committed suicide when Jared was eight. Leto moved frequently with his family from Louisiana to different cities around the country. Leto has two younger half-brothers from his father’s second marriage.
Constance joined the hippie movement and encouraged her sons to get involved in the arts. Leto stated that he was raised around a lot of artists, musicians, photographers, painters and people that were in theater. Leto started playing music with his brother at an early age and his first musical instrument was a broken-down piano.
After dropping out briefly in the 10th grade, Leto decided to return and focus on his education at the private Emerson Preparatory School in Washington, D.C. He was interested in large-scale visual art and enrolled at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After developing an interest in filmmaking, he transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York City. While he was a student there, he wrote and starred in his own short film, Crying Joy. He also attended the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, a part of George Washington University.
In 1992, Leto moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in directing, intending to take acting roles on the side. He found minor roles on television shows but his first break came in 1994, after he was cast opposite Claire Danes as Jordan Catalano, her love interest, in the short-lived but well-reviewed ABC teen drama My So-Called Life. The show was praised for its portrayal of adolescence and gained a strong cult following, despite being canceled after only one season. The same year, he made his television film debut starring alongside Alicia Silverstone in Cool and the Crazy, and landed his first film role in the 1995 drama How to Make an American Quilt. He later co-starred with Christina Ricci in The Last of the High Kings (1996) and got a supporting role in Switchback (1997).
Leto formed the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars in 1998 in Los Angeles, California with his brother Shannon. When the group first started, Jared Leto did not allow his position of Hollywood actor to be used in promotion of the band. Their debut album had been in the works for a couple of years, with Leto writing the majority of the songs. Their work led to a number of record labels being interested in signing Thirty Seconds to Mars, which eventually signed to Immortal Records.
Leto played supporting roles in The Thin Red Line (1998), Fight Club and Girl, Interrupted (1999) and American Psycho (2000), as well as the lead role in Urban Legend (1998), and earned critical acclaim after portraying heroin addict Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream (2000). He later began focusing increasingly on his music career, returning to acting with Panic Room (2002), Alexander (2004), Lord of War (2005), Lonely Hearts (2006), Chapter 27 (2007), and Mr. Nobody (2009). In 2012, he directed the documentary film Artifact. He then appeared in Suicide Squad (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
In February 2017, it was announced that Leto would direct the thriller 77 for Paramount Pictures. Following the release of Suicide Squad, Leto expressed interest in reprising his role as the Joker in future DC Extended Universe installments. In August 2017, it was confirmed that Leto will reprise his role in multiple films in the shared universe, including Gotham City Sirens, and an as-yet untitled film centered on the Joker and Harley Quinn. In October 2020, it was reported that Leto would reprise his role of the Joker in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
In November 2017, Sony Pictures announced plans for a film adaptation of Morbius, the Living Vampire, which will be part of Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters.
In August 2020, it was announced that Leto would star as the character Ares in the yet-untitled Tron 3 film, the sequel to 2010’s Tron: Legacy.
Leto has been active in several charitable pursuits. He has been volunteering at the charity Art of Elysium, which helps children with serious medical conditions. He has supported the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, a program specializing in type 1 diabetes research and care. In 2006, he created the cover art for the album 97X Green Room: Volume 2, which proceeds from the sales benefited The Nature Conservancy. In June 2008, he joined Habitat for Humanity to work with Thirty Seconds to Mars on a home being repaired and renovated through the Greater Los Angeles Area’s “A Brush With Kindness” programme. He also supported Habitat for Humanity in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Leto has supported Aid Still Required, a non-profit corporation committed to bringing attention and humanitarian aid to areas suffering from natural disasters or human crises. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, he released a book of photographs taken during his trip to the Caribbean country in 2011, in a bid to raise funds for the earthquake-ravaged country. He has connected with and helped various organizations since arriving there, including J/P Haitian Relief Organization. Leto spent a year in Haiti during his childhood, and returned there in January 2011 to “reconnect” with his former home following the tremor of January 2010. On September 30, 2014, Leto hosted the event Haiti: The Journey Is the Destination in New York City, benefitting those affected by the 2010 earthquake in the Caribbean country. In February 2015, Leto was named a global ambassador for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), supporting online fundraisers and leading one for his 47th birthday in 2018.