To get into the mindset of a junkie for the upcoming film, Requiem For A Dream, Fight Club star Jared Leto got so into the role that he lived on the streets of New York City and became a member of the lost souls.
He elaborates, "maybe because of my inexperience I went off the deep end a little bit, but I wanted to make sure I did everything I could. I basically came to New York and went and lived on the Lower East Side and surrounded myself with people who were in the same circumstances as my character.
"Every night was an adventure whether it was someone missing the vein in their arm and their hand fills up with poison or they overdose or you're hanging out and it's like, `remember that girl we were hanging out with last night? Well she's dead!' I got robbed one night but I just tried to become one of the group."
Meanwhile, the actor lost twenty-five pounds, and a bit of his sanity to portray the heroin addict.
The American Psycho star got so wrapped up in losing weight that he found it difficult to recover.
He explains, "I got increasingly sick as the film went on and I started getting addicted to losing weight. And more so addicted to the challenge of like, `you know you can do a little bit more.'
There's a little voice in your head. I had a number that I wanted to get down to and that number kept getting lower as you get used to it! Because you look in the mirror and I didn't see myself as skinny."
And when it came time to gain the weight back, Leto couldn't bring himself to chow down on solid food.
He recalls, "I started to eat this taco and I took like two or three bites and I was almost halfway through the taco which was an incredibly large meal for me because at the time I was only eating raw vegetables, a piece or two of broccoli and cucumbers I ate a lot. And someone said to me, `Woah look how much food you ate.' And that just set me off the deep end. I couldn't eat anymore. It was very difficult, emotionally. It was a very tough thing filled with a lot of guilt."
To gain the weight back and his sanity, Leto shaved his head, went to a monastery in Portugal and feasted on fish and potatoes.
All in all, the role was emotionally and physically draining.
”It was a difficult, painful, miserable shoot, I'll tell you that. And the most rewarding thing that I've done.”
”And I'm not complaining either. I mean I would do it again in a heartbeat; maybe not a heartbeat, but a long breath! There were days where it was so rewarding I was in ecstasy."
He confesses, "I think our obsession with escapism has been around as long as we have. Whether it's sex, drugs, the internet, food, or sex it's something that we all have inside ourselves where we don't want to feel a certain way but we all have something we reach for” – WENN (Robin Milling, New York).
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)