“You become a detective of sorts,” describes Oscar winner Jared Leto of his acting process. In the early preparation and research phase of accepting a role, the actor says “I just start asking questions” about the character. Those questions lead to ample experimentation before settling on the defining characteristics of the role. That experimentation was imperative for Leto’s latest creation in the Warner Bros. and HBO Max film “The Little Things.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
The film, written and directed by John Lee Hancock, also stars fellow Oscar champs Denzel Washington and Rami Malek as two detectives hunting the same serial killer. Leto plays the prime suspect, Albert Sparma. The film keeps the audience guessing as to whether Sparma committed the crimes or not. Leto’s performance is suitably ambiguous when it comes to the character’s guilt.
“Albert Sparma was basically a blank canvas,” claims the actor. “Just from the name itself, you know he’s different.” As such, Leto adopted a new physicality, down to his walk and center of gravity, and speaks in an unnervingly calm tone. “He thinks he’s quite in command of his faculties,” says Leto, “but there’s also a part of him that kind of keeps people off balance.”
Perhaps the greatest example of Sparma’s ability to get under the detectives’ skin is an explosive interrogation scene between the three main actors. Sparma flashes a wicked grin when presented with grizzly crime scene photos and acts cavalier when accused of murder. The viewer has the feeling that the suspect is simply toying with the men holding him captive. “There’s always an objective,” Leto suggests of the unpredictable sequence, “but part of that was to serve up some chaos.” His Sparma unnerves the detectives to such an extent that Washington’s Deke loses his cool. It’s a result of Sparma’s ability to “enjoy that uncomfortable silence or space that other people might avoid.”
Sparks were much more readily available thanks to the professional atmosphere set by Washington, whom Leto refers to as a personal hero. The pair entered an unspoken agreement where they “saved all of our energy for that time when the cameras were rolling,” explains Leto. “It made the moments even more charged up.”
The actor won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn in “Dallas Buyers Club” in 2013. He looks back on that event as an “unforgettable time.” But Leto notes that the highlight was sharing the experience with his family and friends who had long supported him. “That was the best part,” admits Leto,” to take the light that shines your way and redirect it.” The films that followed his win have been satisfying too. “People tend to come to me with roles that are challenging,” describes Leto. “I appreciate people’s faith that I can try to take something and something worthy, make something meaningful from it.”
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