By Kien Lee
Jared Leto is known for pushing the boundaries, taking risks with his roles, oftentimes utterly non-conventional ones.
His notable on-screen appearances have included playing American running legend Steve Prefontaine, an anarchist collaborator alongside Brad Pitt in Fight Club, as well as an heroin addict in Requiem for a Dream.
His big break came with his Academy Award win in 2014 for his depiction of a transgender woman with HIV in the Dallas Buyers Club. He recently starred as the Joker in the summer DC-comics movie Suicide Squad.
In between his Hollywood gigs, Leto took on the titular role in Gucci's newest (and rebooted) ad campaign for Gucci Guilty, creatively-styled by the Italian label’s creative director Alessandro Michele. He speaks about the experience.
Were you always a Gucci man? Did you see yourself as one?
I never really wore Gucci. I never did.
Alessandro has really done the impossible. He's taken this classic brand and really turned it completely around and taken it in a direction that was so unexpected.
[Alessandro and I] met and became friends here in L.A., and then we got to know each other and he asked me to do this. It was really organic and not the way this stuff normally happens. I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with someone that I really like and really respect as an artist. It was an easy yes.
What’s your interpretation of the fragrances?
The fragrances are really a dream about the possibilities of a life.
Nonconformity, no judgement. I like to think that people can see that and appreciate that idea and then, by some mechanism of wearing the fragrance, sort of carry that idea with them in their own life. Whether it's a weekend in Louisiana or in New York City or in Venice, Italy, or wherever they may be. I think there’s something kind of fascinating and powerful about that.
There's something subversive about the scents themselves, too. That they're almost unisex. They're both strong and soft in their own way.
Yeah, they're certainly not playing it safe. Nothing is quite what you expect with Gucci. I'm just happy to be a part of their adventure.
How do you think people have reacted to the provocative ad campaign?
You never know how people are going to react but it certainly is something I am very proud to be a part of.
I have had an incredible amount of respect for the people involved. Alessandro's a true maverick. He is a genius and someone who's taking something and turning it on its head in such a powerful way that he is making us all ask questions of what is possible and I think that is really hard to do.
To take an iconic brand like Gucci and to show us something unexpected - I think Alessandro has surprised a lot of people. He's raised the bar and I think that he's someone whose work is so compelling with just a stroke of the brush. He has managed to change our perspective completely and that is not an easy thing to do.
How was working with Alessandro Michele?
Working with Alessandro is wonderful. I am proud to call him a friend and feel very comfortable.
I think everyone is very at ease because you know when you have decided to take some risks, just to follow your gut. You are not really adhering to the script per se. You're listening to yourself, to your intuition and I think that everyone is really confident in that and it's really fun. We have all been having a good time and I think that ends up on camera, you know - the experiences that we are having.
I think the appreciation that we get to do this and you know, taking advantage of a beautiful location like Venice, It all adds up. It all adds up to what this film is.
What's your guilty pleasure?
I'm a vegan, but I do cheat from time to time. Whenever I go to Paris, I visit this great teahouse in the Marais, Mariage Frères, and get a dessert called carré d'or. I'm pretty sure it has at least a pound of butter in it!
Celebrating individuality, freedom and a modern declaration of sexuality, the Gucci Guilty fragrances embody the new edge of the brand: The generation that inspires Alessandro Michele is characterised by a celebrative anarchy. They don't believe in conformity, submitting to labels or to gender rules, breaking free from common social boundaries.
This modern declaration of self expression and sexuality ignites the campaign's powerful statement: #GuiltyNotGuilty