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Jared Leto on The Little Things: "I wanted to push things as far as possible and to really explore the edges"

The Little Things
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

The Little Things offers an old-school throwback to the thrillers that dominated cinemas during the '90s. Led by three of Hollywood's best actors – Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto – the movie has already topped the US box-office, and for good reason: it's an excellent, blood-pumping neo-noir.

All three of the leads conducted detailed research for the movie, with Washington telling Total Film magazine he does "whatever it takes" and Malek, who plays detective Jim Baxter, pointing out that on-set police advisers Tim Marcia and Mitzi Roberts "were really helpful in getting me to understand the psychology of someone who is so driven to close a case..." He grins. "I did actually draw some parallels in terms of the commitment and being so consumed."

But it was Leto who dug deepest, researching serial killers and listening to audio of interrogations and speaking to experts in criminology and to the FBI to get into the right headspace for his portrayal of the movie's chief suspect. Whether or not Sparma is the man that Baxter and Deke (Washington) are looking for remains ambiguous for much of the running time, but he's certainly a wrong'un, fixated on true-crime horrors and revelling in playing cat and mouse with the detectives he's seen on TV. Leto constructed the character from the ground up. 

"I wanted to push things as far as possible and to really explore the edges," he says, leaning forward. "There was a walk and a talk. I did different eyes – contacts – and nose and teeth. A lot of prosthetics. You can discover a character not only from the inside-out but the outside-in. Maybe if you put on a little weight it can change the way that you move. I've had it happen that I put on so much weight for a film [playing John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27] that it actually changed the way that I laughed. That time is exciting. You try a lot of different things, you make a lot of mistakes, you rein it back in. At one point for Albert I had maybe 50 different wigs. I was gonna wear this crazy wig and I looked like Annie from the musical, with the curly red hair."

The Little Things is out in the US now, and is scheduled to release in the UK in the spring. For much more on the film, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film magazine when it hits shelves (real and digital) this Friday, February 5. Check out the new covers below, as revealed by Jared Leto:

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(Image credit: Warner Bros/Total Film)