One of the first major roles of Jared Leto’s career came in David Fincher’s modern classic Fight Club, and it set a precedent that the actor still follows over two decades later.
Saying that Leto looks unrecognizable on screen is par for the course these days, but when cameras first started rolling on the subversive black comedy back in July 1998, the fresh-faced 26 year-old was arguably still best known for his stint on ABC’s My So-Called Life opposite Claire Danes.
Bleaching both his hair and eyebrows completely white, Leto’s Angel Face was one of the very few characters in Fight Club to get any sort of meaningful screen time outwith the central trio of Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham-Carter. The rookie Project Mayhem recruit suffers some pretty nasty injuries in a scrap with Tyler Durden, and in a new interview, the Academy Award winner admitted that it was Pitt who inspired his peroxide look, with Leto originally planning to remain a platinum blonde.
“I remember bleaching my hair and my eyebrows white. We did one pass, and I think it was Brad Pitt, he said something about, ‘Billy Idol.’ he was like, ‘Blonder!’. So we went even whiter with it. I liked being on that set because I got to watch Brad. He’s incredibly loose, naturalistic, always does something very different take to take and that was interesting to see. Everyone on it just kind of felt like we were just getting into trouble and doing something that was potentially special but on the darker side of the universe.”
Fight Club may not have been a massive hit when it was released, earning just over $100 million at the box office on a $63 million budget, but it soon began to seep into the fabric of popular culture. It was one of the most controversial and talked-about films of 1999, and you could make the argument that it also became the first genuine cult classic of the 21st Century.
The uncompromising takedown of capitalism and masculinity still boasts a huge following over 20 years on, something it didn’t manage to capture at the time. Brad Pitt has even admitted that the first public screening tanked horribly, but he didn’t mind because he’d gotten high with Edward Norton right before it.