By Sean Daly
Tampa Bay Times
Russell Crowe has tried to do it. Bruce Willis, too. Keanu Reeves, Kevin Costner. Minnie Driver, Zooey Deschanel, the list goes on and on. Plenty of actors have tried to cross-venture into rock stardom – don’t forget Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin – all the while excelling at their day jobs. But arguably no one has done it with more success, panache and industry respect than Jared Leto.
The 42-year-old It Guy has basically built the perfect, and perfectly 21st century, multihyphenate career. After all, he snagged an Academy Award (for 2013’s “Dallas Buyers Club”) at the same time his band, alt-rockers Thirty Seconds to Mars, were scoring hit albums and forming a tour with Linkin Park and AFI, a rowdy bash coming to the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center next Thursday.
Leto is such a phenomenon that it’s worth breaking down just how the man does what he does. Herewith, four simple ways to achieve Absolute Letodom:
1. Be Hot
OK, we’ll get to his talent in a second. But hoo boy, Jared Leto, the pride of Bossier City, La., is a fine-looking fella with a face for both big screens and big stages. He has the otherworldly eyes of a sympathetic cyborg. His hair is a constantly morphing tabloidal obsession that looks good long or short or pulled into a smoldering just-got-up ponytail. Plus, he has that Clooney thing going: He’s 42 and getting cuter by the day. Sigh.
2. Be Good
So yeah, about that talent! Leto’s a method actor who can shapeshift into any part, whether it’s his salad-days role as Jordan Catalano in “My So-Called Life,” the heroin-addicted Harry Goldfarb in “Requiem for a Dream” or transgender firecracker Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Then there’s the music: Thirty Seconds to Mars, which lead singer Leto formed with brother Shannon, pumps out ear-pleasing synthy, clashy electro-rock, built for arenas and dance clubs. Leto’s voice has a New Romantic post-punk passion – maybe not the best vocal chops ever but good enough to get the sensitive-guy job done.
3. Be Selective
Leto isn’t an attention-hungry celeb, making him all the more appealing. It’s not that he’s careful about his image; he just doesn’t seem to care what you think. He’s content with taking a small selection of movie roles that speak to him (otherwise known as the Sean Penn approach). He allows his band to grow organically without taking weird gigs or forcing it into awkward MTV-phony situations. Leto picks his spots and picks them well.
4. Be Different
Leto does his own thing in all walks of life, so his music career seems like much more of a natural evolution of his talents. He loves NASA and space (hence the band name). He’s a vegan. He’s a techie. He sells cute little rocket toys. When doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything, he was much more into his hobbies than his career. He’s quietly offbeat, a trait that made his earnest and normal Oscar speech – one that referenced his mom, Venezuela and the battle against AIDS – all the more hero-making. Jared Leto makes being Jared Leto look easy. As for the rest of us, even those with awesome hair, good luck.
Who: Thirty Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park
When: 6:30 p.m. next Thursday
Where: Darien Lake Performing Arts Center