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In writer-director John Lee Hancock’s The Little Things, which premiered on HBO Max last week, Oscar-winners Denzel Washington and Rami Malek play two detectives on the hunt for a serial killer in 1990 Los Angeles. All of their clues lead them to Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), whose unsettling appearance and morbid sense of humor make him a prime suspect. But like everything in The Little Things, Leto’s Albert Sparma isn’t what he seems.
Jared Leto was not expecting a Golden Globe nomination for his turn in The Little Things. But the previous Globe and Oscar winner, who picked up both trophies for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club, was pleasantly surprised upon waking up this morning to learn of his second nomination.
He spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about receiving the good news, what excited him most about The Little Things and embracing rom-coms in lockdown.
How did you find out about your nomination? Did you wake up early to watch the announcements, or did you sleep in?
I mean, complete transparency: I didn’t even know the nominations were coming out today.
So did you wake up to a ton of texts?
I had trouble sleeping last night. I was tossing and turning. I went rock climbing yesterday in the mountains, and I think it was a bit restless from that. I finally got to bed — it was pretty late, so I slept in a little bit later. And when I woke up, I picked up my phone, I saw a lot of messages, and I thought, “Oh, I must be on a group chain or something.” But when I opened up the messages and I saw the nomination — I admit I was quite shocked. I didn’t really expect it. My mind is just not in that head space right now.
We spoke a few weeks ahead of Friday’s release of The Little Things, and you said that you were initially hesitant to take on the role of Albert Sparma because you didn’t want to play another bad guy. And among your fellow nominees, you stand out as the only actor playing a role like this.
Well, we don’t know if he actually is a bad guy — or how bad a guy he is. That is certainly true. I think there’s some precedent for actors really elevating roles of suspects or potential villains. You know, you go back to the first Manhunter, and Silence of the Lambs had two phenomenal performances. There has been a precedent of people developing or creating characters that were well-rounded, not just like, “Oh, here’s a bad guy.” And it’s always fun to play in that sandbox. I just didn’t want to do something that was like the obligatory evil dude. I wanted to use an opportunity to really push myself physically and explore the transformation process. It was very physical head-to-toe and quite an immersive experience.
And it seems like it paid off. Since you’ll be celebrating from home this year, how do you think you’ll re-create the Golden Globes’ party atmosphere?
I haven’t thought about it, to be honest. We had a very busy, full day, so this on top of it made it pretty wild one. The thing that I’m happiest about in terms of the movie is that people seem to be really enjoying the character. It’s nice that people are seeing the film, and I know that Warner Brothers is really happy with the response. And I’m glad that people are enjoying [Albert’s] wild sense of humor and his idiosyncrasies. There’s Kurt Vonnegut rules of writing, and I think one of the rules is, “Never let people feel like you’ve wasted their time.” I think that’s just such a great, simple thing. That is important to live by.
In this kind of chaotic time of lockdowns and quarantines, is there anything else you’ve been watching or reading or listening to that’s been comforting?
Oh man, I’ve been watching everything. I used to reserve my time for documentaries, independent films. My consumption time was focused on learning and challenging myself. That’s kind of just opened up, which is quite fun. I’ve gone back into rom-com territory. I did watch When Harry Met Sally … for the first time. There’s so many great foreign television shows, and it’s so great that we’re all watching these international shows, like subtitled television. Who would have thought, right?
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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