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Homeless Hippy Kid to Rock Star and Academy Award Winning Actor Jared Leto talks success and exceeding expectations

Jared Leto / MTV / Buzzworthy 6:04

Jehan Semper

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February 21, 2019

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He's a rock star, an Academy Award winner and, fame doesn't bother him because he's usually on tour. Everybody knows Jared Leto, but from where? Has he always been here?

Catalano. "Oh, yeah," he says with a well-worn laugh, "right." Is that really what everyone remembers? That might have been true before February 2014. "Whats true for you?" he asks.

Whats true for me is that Catalano won an Academy Award. Best Supporting Actor. "Yeah, I know," he smiles. "Isnt that something?" he asks as I silently ponder the significance of that event for what else could happen in a world we believed we understood.

Jared Letos made a lot of films. How many of them do you remember? "Me? I remember all of them," Jared says.

I've seen several of Jared's films, but the one that I remember is Mr. Nobody. "You're the only person that's seen that film," he smiles. Something about a guy named "Nemo" who marries three women. An emotionally unstable blonde mired in memories of the past; a proper, respectable Asian whom he does not love; and the other one? Well, I can say this much. When he found himself and his car submerged in the lake after sailing off a cliff during his drive at the end of the day to their marital home, "Nemo" tried his best to overcome those circumstances.

With choices like "Mr. Nobody", it seems like a mystery that Catalano persists in the cultural memory. "It's just one of those things, you know? I'm okay with it. It's almost as though people know me, but they've forgotten how they came to know me," he muses. Until now. "Right," he agrees.

Jared Leto / Shannon Leto / Constance Leto / 2014 Academy Awards
Jared Leto / Shannon Leto / Constance Leto
2014 Academy Awards

It's not so much that the Academy Award was a big surprise. It's the where have you been factor. "Well, I hadn't made a film that anyone had seen for such a long time." But, that's not to say that he hasn't been busy. "I've been on tour, literally, for years. We've been touring the world for what seems like forever." "We" is 30 Seconds to Mars. A three-piece rock band consisting of Jared, his brother Shannon Leto and Tomo Milicevic. If you have not had the pleasure, their concert footage is worth having a look-see on It's about the fans, the multitudes of whom are referred to as "The Echelon". "Yeah, we have a pretty dedicated family of people who love and support us."

That could very well be the minimalist statement of our time. Face paint. Merch. Languages. "That's true, actually. Much of our audience is multi-lingual." What does that mean in the midst of the Academy Award, the arenas and Tomo Milicevic? "I don't know. You tell me."

Jared's brother, Shannon Leto, plays drums. "Shannon is the talented one," Jared says. Classically trained Tomo Milicevic plays guitar. How'd Catalano manage that? "Tomo's been with us for a long time. Tomo is someone we love."

Jared presents himself as relaxed and comfortable, very agreeable and cooperative, but I feel as though we are ever on the precipice of the answer to the real question: Where have you been all of this time?

"What do you mean? I have been where I have always been. Working," he insists with laughter.

Well, considering that we have all endured for so long from one visible incarnation of Jared Leto to the most recent visible incarnation of Jared Leto, the natural question would be: What are you doing now?

"I have been climbing mountains, taking photos, meditating and enjoying life." Artistic endeavours? "I've been working on a film in Toronto." Is this a film that we are going to see? "Yeah. It's one of those sorts of films," he says. "2016".

I ask him if this is a good thing--being in one of "those sorts of films". "It's an opportunity to do something different than what I usually do. It's an experience." An experience. That's how Jared describes a starring role in a DC Comics production of monumental summer movie opening proportions. "It's a new fanbase, that's very true." Merchandising. Possibly a new franchise. "Very true." A very different sort of life and career than an actor of "art house" films. I ask him if he's ready for the fans camping outside of his home. "I am usually on tour. It's rare that I am at home."

Rock star. Academy Award winner. And, fame doesn't bother him because hes usually on tour. "Does that make me sound like an asshole?" he asks.

I ask him if we can look forward to a My So-Called Life reunion. "I don't know," he says. "Do you know something?" The humour of that is pretty spectacular because it's obvious that whether anyone knows anything at all is a genuine question because Catalano won an Academy Award.

"Is it really that weird?" Jared asks. I stare at him with round eyes. He says, "Umm, okay."

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