The Oscar-winning actor portrayed the Clown Prince of Crime once in 2016 and the news that Phoenix would play the role in a standalone film was a very unpleasant surprise for the star.
While this is just a rumour – Leto hasn’t released a statement about how he felt – it would be understandable if that’s how the actor did feel at the time.
In 2017, when Joker was first coming together, and before Phoenix was officially cast, Leto was allegedly caught off guard as he was meant to reprise the character for both a Suicide Squad sequel and a spinoff movie with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.
THR reported at the time, “Leto is said to have made his displeasure with the notion of multiple Jokers known to his CAA agents.”
He later told ODE he was “confused” by what was going on with his character.
“I’m a little confused too, so, there are a couple of things happening in the DC world… It’s a big universe and, you know, when you play the Joker, there’s no ownership there.
“You know you just have the honour of holding the baton for a little while and then passing it off. But there are other films in development and I’m excited to see what comes from them.”
Honestly, we can’t really blame him for feeling that way, especially when we know that a lot of his own Joker performance ended up on the cutting room floor so audiences didn’t really see the full picture of what he brought to the character, which wasn’t his fault.
Leto doesn’t make an appearance in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and won’t be in Birds of Prey with Harley Quinn either, so his future as the Joker is up in the air.
He’s previously told Variety, “I would definitely play the Joker again. It all depends on the script and the circumstances, as it always does.”
Until then, Leto has crossed over to the Marvel side to work on Sony’s Morbius film which will see him star as the anti-hero Morbius the Living Vampire.
Morbius hits cinemas July, 2020.