Jared Leto: “I could have ended up a drug dealer”
The artist and rock star discusses dreams, drug use and the simplicity of youth
Jared Leto has reflected upon his “turbulent” teenage years of drug-taking and law-breaking.
Penning his Letter To My Younger Self, Hollywood heartthrob Leto, 41, admits that his trouble with the concept of authority in his younger years caused a lot of “pain and uncertainty”.
“I was at a crossroads in life when I was 16,” he told The Big Issue. “I was taking a look at my opportunities and what I’d do with my life and how I’d go about it.
“I didn’t know I was going to be an actor. I thought I might be an artist or a painter. Or maybe a drug dealer. But I didn’t know which path I would take. It’s just fortunate that I chose one over the other.
“If I met the teenage Jared now the first thing I’d notice would probably be that my wallet was missing. He had a pretty tough exterior, it would be hard to crack. I was in trouble quite a bit with the authorities, any person who made rules or the law.
“I dropped out of school. My adolescence was actually a very turbulent time for me. I think we’re all dealt a set of challenges in our lives and we all deal with them in different ways.
“When you’re younger you don’t have the tools, you just don’t know how to cope with those challenges. Probably a lot of my behaviour was related to doing drugs.”
After eventually finding his feet, Leto notched up starring roles in big screen cult classics Fight Club and American Psycho and is arguably more known for fronting rock band 30 Seconds To Mars.
Leto has developed quite an impressive CV in his near two decades in the music and film industry – and he is positive that he wouldn’t be where is now without his teenage hiccups.
“I think everything happens for a reason so it’s good that I learned the lessons that I had to learn,” he said. “But there was a lot of pain and uncertainty and that’s not always fun.
“I’d like to go back and reassure my younger self that things will be okay and he should remember how much our choices impact on our lives and how much responsibility we have for our own lives.
“And how much hard work pays off. And that it’s okay to dream as big as you can dream. I’d tell him to hang on tight, and listen, and to bet on himself.”
Leto added: “It would be nice to go back just for a day to when you were a young kid, and the sun was shining, and you had no responsibilities and no work to do.
“You’d have no contribution to make except just to have a good time, jump in a swimming pool, and eat bad food. It might be nice to have that feeling again.”
You can read Jared Leto’s full Letter To My Younger Self in this week’s Big Issue, on sale now in England and from tomorrow in Scotland and Wales