As a villain who often has little to no backstory, The Joker can take a variety of different forms when portrayed by a variety of different performers. With such a blank slate to work with, actors have often looked to real life personalities to inform their portrayal of the legendary bad guy. With Suicide Squad debuting this weekend, Jared Leto revealed the unlikely rockstar that served as a major inspiration for his take on the white-skinned, green haired gangster. He said:
We discussed David Bowie a bit — not necessarily the music of David, but his class, his elegance, his timelessness.
Jared Leto spoke to NME during the Suicide Squad press tour to explain how the late, great David Bowie served as a major inspiration for the latest incarnation of the Clown Prince of Crime. Obviously this version of The Joker doesn’t go around singing “Space Oddity” at any point during the run of Suicide Squad, but Bowie still provided a fantastic persona to inspire and craft this take on Mr. J. Leto brought a sense of gravitas, theatricality, and flamboyance to the character, all of which seems to clearly share the same DNA as Bowie’s own stage presence.
Those of you who have seen Suicide Squad might not have picked up on that inspiration, as Jared Leto does not even have that large of a part in the film. Numerous Joker scenes from Suicide Squad ended up on the cutting room floor, and as such our hopes remain high that the home release of the film will feature a ton of deleted content that further shows off this new Joker’s rockstar persona.
Of course, Jared Leto is far from the only actor to ever apply a famous musician to a take on The Joker. Heath Ledger similarly looked to the world of music for inspiration when crafting his own version of the Clown Prince of Crime, even if the artist used was far different from David Bowie. One look at Ledger’s performance in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight will instantly invoke the unique personality of singer-songwriter Tom Waits. We’re not quite sure what it is about The Joker, but he clearly lends himself to the rockstar treatment.
Now that Jared Leto has come out and explained his inspiration for The Joker, it’s going to be hard to watch the film without thinking about David Bowie’s influence on the character. Of all the icons one could use to inform a character, we can think of few better choices than Ziggy Stardust himself. Suicide Squad is in theaters now; make sure to check it out.