Did Jared Leto Really Just Credit Drugs for His His Success?
Say what you will about Jared Leto (and most folks do), but you can’t say that he’s not committed – to both of his careers. Think about it. Who else has put on 67 pounds for a role and picked up a bout of gout and played enough shows during a single album cycle to make the Guinness Book of World Records? Of course, some folks aren’t very impressed by fattening up to portray psycho killer Mark David Chapman (Chapter 27), let alone playing 300 shows in support of a Thirty Seconds to Mars’ LP (This is War). In fact, those people believe Leto himself should be committed. But that’s really another story.
Or is it? Can Leto’s music and movies be separated from Leto the person? Should they be? If not, then where do we draw the line? Do we include accolades and accusations? After all, the guy’s won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and been accused of unspeakable crimes. If we include good deeds do we also include bad behavior? Do we also make room for rumors and innuendo?
How about drugs and alcohol? Leto’s never been particularly shy about discussing his substance abuse history. He’s never been particularly bothered by appearing to be under the influence either. So in that respect one would think all bets are off. Leto’s recent revisiting of the topic, however, might cause one to think again. Why? Well, because some say Leto seemed to be bragging as much about sobriety as was about using drugs.
Sourcing Jared Leto
We got the goods from Megan Johnson at Yahoo!Life, who in turn got ‘em from Zane Lowe on Apple Music. Leto had taken to the podcast in order to plug Thirty Seconds to Mars’ new album It’s The End Of The World But It’s A Beautiful Day. This being the band’s first new LP in five years means it’s kind of a thing. This being Leto means anything could happen.
Or not. Oh, it’s not so much that the chat was a yawn (though there was that); it’s more like Leto had decided to downshift to neutral in order to avoid any potential criticism. That’s all well and good (we suppose). After all, Leto is free to interview however he wants to interview. But to be blase blase about sobriety as well as drug use and addiction seems a bit beneath him. It’s most certainly beneath the subject. Remember, drugs have brought down hundreds of thousands in just the past few years; that includes some of Leto’s “very close friends.” One would think such a subject would rate more than an unequivocal ho-hum.
But it didn’t. Not on this day. And not in this interview. Oh, we did learn that “a moment of clarity” helped Leto to see his way clear of addiction. But we also learned drugs were responsible for Leto’s being there in the first place.
Drugs – Blame Them or Thank Them?
We kid you not.
“We wouldn’t be here obviously if we didn’t have that exposure to the arts, and creativity, and the drugs” he said, whispering the latter. It was almost as if he was embarrassed to be revealing a badly kept secret.
The way Leto subtly bragged about his capacity to identify the smell of marijuana long before his grade school (?) peers showed no such fake reticence. Neither did the way he jokingly spoke of studying to be “a painter,” “a professional drug user” and “not a bad [drug] dealer” during art school.
Listen, we get it. Drugs are part of your past. But if you’re going to go on record saying their continued use probably would’ve killed you, you might want to stop bragging about how cool you were to be using them in the first place. There are a lot of impressionable people out there. And Mr. Leto, don’t you lead a de facto cult?
Leto clearly holds sway over a good chunk of the populace. Must he lead them to believe rampant and frequent drug use will help them achieve their dreams?
Frankly, at the end of the day it’s hard to say whether Leto blames his nontraditional childhood for his early drug use or credits the drugs, the openness and the creativity for his success.
Drugs & Education
Like we said, Leto told Lowe he spent his college days “studying to be a painter and a professional drug user (and not a bad dealer).” Now doing drugs in college is no big deal; dealing drugs in college isn’t really that big of a deal either. A whole lotta college kids do both. It’s where Leto went to school that sets him apart from most Americans.
Leto’s education began at Emerson Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., a fabled institution that dated back to 1852, but which couldn’t survive COVID. (Sadly, it’s now shuttered.) From there Leto enrolled at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, but when he switched his focus to film and the school wouldn’t adjust its curriculum to fit his needs, he transferred to New York’s School of Visual Arts. Leto also attended the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, now a part of George Washington University.
It should be noted that all this was accomplished after Leto had dropped out of high school in the 10th grade, which shows tremendous pluck and resolve.
Then again, from the time Leto wrote, directed and starred in his first film while at SVA, it was clear he had ample pluck and resolve.
“I knew that I wanted to hopefully accomplish things in my life that I was proud of, to do something special with my life,” he told Lowe.
When the drugs started interfering with that trajectory, he dropped ‘em like the proverbial hot potato.
Was it a “spiritual experience?”, asked Lowe.
Well, “that phrase can evoke a kind of hokey thing…” Let’s call it “a moment of clarity.”
Kicking the Kicks
It’s hard to kick drugs; it’s even harder to forget them. In fact, the imprint drugs make on a user’s psyche is largely what makes recovery a lifelong process.
Psyche of course means soul. If there’s one addict out there who hasn’t in some way sold their soul to sate their addiction, well, they belong in a zoo. Because they’re as rare as a stigma-free habit. But the ex-addict who doesn’t occasionally think fondly of their drug use days is also a rarity.
In other words, we can fully understand Leto’s somewhat wistful remembrances. Implying drugs were the catalyst for your success though, well, that seems to be a bit much. Heck, a person would have to do enough drugs to kill themselves thrice over in order to achieve even half of what Leto’s achieved!
The Laudable Jared Leto
Indeed, Thirty Second to Mars’ new album isn’t the only thing on Jared Leto’s horizon. In fact, Wiki says Jared Leto has some serious action coming up, including Darren Aronofsky’s Adrift, and a sequel to 2010’s Tron: Legacy entitled Tron: Ares. Leto’s also rumored to be portraying both Karl Lagerfeld and Andy Warhol (albeit separately), as well as to direct the thriller 77 for Paramount Pictures (though that was announced in 2017).
And while Leto’s VyRT is no more, and his Adventures In Wonderland seems to be a bit murky and his Twentynine Palms seems to have stalled before it even really started, he’s sure to be back with some entrepreneurial something or other at some time or another. After all, Leto’s also a funder for Reddit and Robinhood Markets.
Then there are the good works, such as supporting the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, The Nature Conservancy and Habitat for Humanity. In fact, Leto and his bandmate have helped build Habitat homes in the Greater Los Angeles Area, as well as in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He’s also a global ambassador for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
To be fair, Leto’s Apple Music chat wasn’t completely disingenuous. In fact, there were occasions when his candor really showed through, i.e. when mentioning River Phoenix.
“River was incredible,” said Leto, with obvious sadness and utter respect. “He was incredible. I don’t know if I’d be an actor if it wasn’t for him, because he showed us all what authenticity was, what truth is.”
Now that’s the Jared Leto we like to see. That’s also the Jared Leto we’d continually like to see staying front, center, sober and on point.