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Jared Leto: 'Heath Ledger was the perfect Joker'

Suicide Squad's Jared Leto accepts his version of Batman villain The Joker will never match Heath Ledger's portrayal.

The 44-year-old takes on the iconic comic book villain in Suicide Squad and admits he was initially reluctant to sign up for the part after watching Heath's mesmerising and chilling performance in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight in 2008.

The Australian actor died from an accidental overdose six months before the film's release and went on to win a posthumous Oscar for the role - his final complete onscreen performance - and Jared was conscious of his legacy when he was first offered the part.

"Heath did an impeccable, perfect performance as the Joker," he told Rolling Stone. "It's one of the best performances ever in cinema. I had met Heath before. I didn't know him well, but he was a beautiful person."

The star finally agreed to play The Joker after Suicide Squad director David Ayer reminded him there had been several versions of the colourful comic book bad guy before Heath's, including Jack Nicholson's over-the-top creation in 1989's Batman.

"I think had it only been portrayed by Heath and it was never a comic book, maybe I would have felt that would be inappropriate," he explained. "But I thought that given the history, it was OK. The good thing about other people having done this is that you know what direction not to head in."

Just like Heath, Jared fully immersed himself in the role, remaining in character throughout his time on set. He also watched real-life violent crimes on YouTube until they started messing with his mind.

"The Joker is incredibly comfortable with acts of violence," he explained. "I was watching real violence, consuming that. There's a lot you can learn from seeing it. Not every act of violence is committed with frenzy, either. I remember learning that. People can be calm. They've made their choice and go and do something, and it's not in a frenzy. It's methodical and sometimes even hypnotic and deliberate."

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