Jared Leto lived as a blind man on set for eye-popping Blade Runner 2049 role

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Sep 8, 2017

Jared Leto’s performance in Blade Runner 2049 is just out of sight.

The Oscar-winning actor is famous (you might say infamous) for going all-out method for his roles, even pulling a slew of unsavory pranks on his Suicide Squad costars while in character as the Joker. (Let’s just say there were condoms involved. And bullets. And … rats.)

Leto’s now on a roll with Blade Runner 2049. To prep for his part as the blind genius Niander Wallace, who masterminds the creation of the saga’s fierce replicants, he did just that: went blind during the film’s shoot.

In a new interview with Leto and Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve, The Wall Street Journal reports that Leto wore customized opaque contact lenses that essentially rendered him blind. He then needed to be guided around the set, and never actually saw his castmates during production.

“He entered the room, and he could not see at all,” Villeneuve told the paper's WSJ. Magazine. “He was walking with an assistant, very slowly. It was like seeing Jesus walking into a temple. Everybody became super silent, and there was a kind of sacred moment. Everyone was in awe. It was so beautiful and powerful — I was moved to tears. And that was just a camera test!”

Leto, for his part, downplayed the intensity of his prep on the sequel, which opens on Oct. 6 and costars Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling.

He said he “didn’t dive as deep down the rabbit hole as maybe I’ve done before, but I stayed really focused.” (That’s saying a lot: This, of course, is an actor who dropped 30 pounds for his Oscar-wining role as a transgender AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club, and sought out the company of junkies before playing a heroin addict in Requiem for a Dream.)

Still, Leto’s extreme methods left his director agog.

“That, for me, was insane. But he really created something. Every time Jared came on set, it was a boost of energy, tension, and excitement,” Villeneuve explained, adding: “We all heard stories about Jared, how he transforms into the characters. But even this didn’t prepare me for what was to come.”

Indeed, it was —with 20/20 clarity — Leto’s uncompromising vision for the role.