Jared Leto Recalls Emerging From Silent Meditation Retreat to Coronavirus Shutdown

Jared Leto - Getty - Embed -2020
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Following a 12-day escape with no access to phones or television, 'The Little Things' star returned to Los Angeles to find that the “whole world had changed.”

Back in March 2020, the severity of the novel coronavirus pandemic escalated quickly, as several cities and state were put under immediate quarantine orders to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

But no one was more shocked than Jared Leto, who went away on a 12-day silent mediation retreat only to return to what felt like “the zombie apocalypse.”

On Monday’s episode of The Tonight Show, Leto opened up to Jimmy Fallon about his unique experience finding out about the virus lockdown.

“When I went away, there were about 150 cases,” the Suicide Squad star recalled. “And just in that short amount of time, when I came out, there was a shutdown, a state of emergency and the whole world had changed.”

Of the retreat itself, he said: “The idea is that you go away, you get rid of your phone, you get rid of distractions, you get rid of everything and you just meditate… But when we were in there, they didn’t tell us [about the pandemic].”

The actor-musician compared himself to Rip Van Winkle, referencing a short story by Washington Irving, in which a man falls asleep and awakes 20 years later, having missed the American Revolution.

“It’s like a Twilight Zone episode, but in real life,” Fallon said.

“It was shocking,” Leto agreed. “I had this great tool to deal with stress and things and life, but I don’t think anything can prepare any of us for what we all went through in the beginning.”

At the time, Leto took to Twitter to share his shocking realization, as he hurried to catch himself up on the current state of the world.

Leto also spoke with Fallon about his upcoming film The Little Things, in which he stars alongside fellow Academy Award-winners Denzel Washington and Rami Malek.

“I had an opportunity to work with Denzel Washington, one of my heroes,” Leto said. “For me, he’s like Brando and Beethoven. He’s the GOAT. He’s the king.”

For his role in the film, Leto underwent a full physical transformation — brown eyes, prosthetic nose, prosthetic teeth and different mannerisms — in order to embody the “super immersive character.”

“It was a special one, something really special about this with Rami Malek and Denzel” the star said of his co-stars. “Just to get in the ring with those two guys, I feel really, really fortunate.”

Watch the clip below.