It’s not an easy task to describe Los Angeles. Unlike some cities that enchant at first sight, L.A.’s kind of beauty is strangely paradoxical — where the mainstream and off-kilter co-exist as strange bedfellows to create an irresistible and variegated whole. In a stealthy and seductive way, the place grows on you.
Though it is late fall, the season-defying California weather is all warm, blue skies and luminous sunshine in West Hollywood en route to Chateau Marmont for an interview with Jared Leto, on the eve of the Gucci Guilty party at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
After a smouldering turn in the 2016 #GuiltyNotGuilty campaign shot in Venice, co-starring models Vera Van Erp and Julia Hafstrom, the Oscar-winning actor and musician is reprising his role for the fragrance’s new chapter.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Jared Leto:
“Venice was magical and beautiful to be in the middle of winter…desolate. The campaigns are very different—one is very sensual and provocative, and the new one is more free-spirited with a sense of adventure, playfulness and nostalgia."
Making her Gucci Guilty debut with Leto in the new #ForeverGuilty campaign (you guessed right) set cannily in La-La Land is multiplatinum singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. Los Angeles denizens in real life, the protagonist pair frolic across the city’s lush and saturated landscape in the short video, channelling spontaneity and uninhibition while enjoying a natural connection in their own unconventional and eccentric ways.
His critically acclaimed portrayals and moving character studies are epitomised by the roles of the tragically troubled heroin addict, Harry, in Requiem for a Dream and AIDS-stricken transgender woman with a heart of gold, Rayon, in Dallas Buyers Club. The latter won him the pinnacle of all acting awards—an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2014, on top of 30-odd other industry awards for this role of a lifetime. Those hoping to catch him in a light-hearted romcom will most probably be waiting indefinitely for it.
As to the source of his success, he says, “Probably my mother I would credit the most,” whom he thanked in his inspiring Oscar acceptance speech for encouraging him to be creative, to work hard and to do something special, and for teaching him to dream.
Perhaps more than anyone else in modern-day Tinseltown, Leto rises above the fray as a master of fearlessness and creativity in his inimitable no-holds-barred way. This rings true in his successful transition from Hollywood actor to musician—a feat that has eluded others who tried—as the frontman-songwriter of Los Angeles-based Thirty Seconds to Mars, the rock band he co-founded with elder brother Shannon Leto in 1998.
“I think if you see me on stage with 30STM, it is probably the closest to myself that I ever am,” he says when asked where among all his creative endeavours lies the real Jared Leto.
Not content to take things easy and rest on their laurels, the band toured incessantly and received a Guinness World Record in 2011 for “Most Shows Played During An Album Cycle”—over 300 shows in 6 continents over a span of two years.
Leto is quick to acknowledge that hard work is the answer to achieving one’s goals. “Talent—I’m not sure how much that matters. I’ve never met a talented person who didn’t work hard, at least part of the time.”
Mastering a Fearless Style
Not only an adventurous risk-taker in his professional choices, Leto is equally dauntless in the style department. Since cementing a Gucci deal, he has upped his own trailblazing game honed over the last two decades to inadvertently garner the attention of the fashion world with his statement-making get-ups, especially for his public appearances and shows—something 30STM fans or famously known as “the echelon” know well.
For the interview today, Leto arrives dressed in a violet printed silk shirt and black pants with white side stripes, with his long, dark brown hair in cornrow braids. Appearing to reference a ‘60s/‘70s artsy boho-glam rock vibe, this is the style he is currently sporting in conjunction with the band’s fifth album entitled America.
Yet another mode turn courtesy of his irreverent, rule-breaking streak, even though he asserts his myriads of hairdo and fashion transformations over the years are mostly “the result of a bad accident or (an acting) job.”
“I kind of just have fun with it. Maybe if you’re trying to be safe, it’s not a great route for having fun. I don’t put that much thought into it…even for today,” he says. “These are fairly old Gucci clothes I’ve had forever. I’ve worn these pants like a 100 times and I can see they are getting quite worn out here.”
Does he have a favourite Gucci outfit? Who knows if he is humouring me for asking an inane fashion question, but he says with enthusiasm, “Yea… I’ve been wearing these Gucci dresses onstage that are flowy, nice and cool. They’re not too hot, that’s why I like them.
“Whatever is the most comfortable is what I wear. I’m only into comfort. It has to be cosy and comfortable,” he says, laughing softly about his sartorial modus operandi in what he chooses to wear when left to his own devices.
On Working with Gucci
A fascinating celebrity to watch, Leto certainly is as far as his films, music, style and other projects are concerned. He makes a superb partner in crime for creative director Alessandro Michele and his compelling vision for Gucci with an idiosyncratic twist in the reinvention of what is recognisable and traditional for the House.
“We’re friends first and foremost, and we have a lot in common because we are similar ages; we’re both creative people; we love our work; and we love to work hard—we have some common ground there. You know, the fact that we get to work together is just a bonus and it’s a nice thing to do with someone you have a connection with. Really grateful to work with this awesome group of people.”
The next evening at the outdoor screening of the #ForeverGuilty campaign video at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, surrounded by an eclectic cohort of guests, all four of its collaborators— Alessandro Michele, Jared Leto, Lana Del Rey and Courtney Love—sit huddled together on a park bench for the preview of the director’s cut.
A constellation of four dreamers, artists and stars in their own creative rights who are now banded by a common declaration of self-expression and liberty in the realms of life and art, alongside the new-generation spirit of Gucci Guilty.