Jared Leto wore prosthetics, honed his Israeli accent, and took on some of the mannerisms of business mogul Adam Neumann, and that was just the beginning of his exploration into the latest character in WeCrashed.
Known for his chameleon-like ability to morph into disparate roles, Leto’s other recent projects include Prime Video’s House of Gucci, opposite Lady Gaga, and the Marvel action-adventure Morbius opposite Michael Keaton. Morbius opens in theaters on April 1.
In early 2020, Wondery launched a six-part audio series called WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork, which was described as a story of hope and hubris, big money and even bigger screwups, and the lengths that people will go to chase unicorns.
The podcast focused on the rags-to-riches tale of WeWork’s charismatic CEO Adam Neumann, a gifted salesman with a grandiose vision, who believed his company was going to change the world.
Along with his wife and spiritual guide, Rebekah Neumann (Anne Hathaway stars in WeCrashed), he grew the company into $47 billion in less than a decade. Unfortunately, in less than a year, in September 2019, Neumann was ousted from the company he built.
From the outset, co-writers, Lee Eisenberg and Drew Crevello saw WeCrashed as a personal story that hinged on the right actors to portray the three main characters – Adam, Rebekah, and Adam’s business partner and friend Miguel McKelvey (Kyle Marvin).
When it came to casting Adam, Leto was the only actor they had in mind. “When it came to Adam Neumann, this is someone who was so charismatic, he literally could convince someone to give him four billion dollars in 12 minutes,” Crevello exclusively tells Monsters and Critics.
“Adam could convince hundreds and then thousands of employees and members to buy into this vision. So we needed someone with an almost messianic rock star kind of charisma, and Jared Leto is literally a rock star; and he is such a chameleon that he was at the top of our list, of our wish list from day one.”
After hours and hours of calls talking through the character, story, and themes, Crevello adds, “Jared asked incredibly insightful and very penetrating questions…There was a point after he committed when he just became Adam Neumann.”
Monsters and Critics sat down for an exclusive interview with Jared Leto, in which he talked about his approach to Adam Neumann, his diverse movies, and the best advice he ever received.
Monsters and Critics: I know everybody wanted you to be in this movie, but why did you want to play the part of Adam Neumann?
Jared Leto: One thing I loved about it is how fresh this story is. It just happened. So, it’s still in the headlines and people are still talking about it. There’s an incredible podcast, there are incredible documentaries, articles, and books written about it. He’s a fascinating character and it’s an incredible set of circumstances. That’s really everything you can hope for as an actor.
M&C: You’re known as being a chameleon in your work, so how does that help you with a role like Adam Neumann?
Jared Leto: I love challenging opportunities. I love immersive work, as I call it. I love the character. I love to explore the extremes of humanity, and I feel pretty lucky that I get asked to do that so often. I went from House of Gucci right into WeCrashed, and the characters couldn’t have been more different. I’m just really grateful to have these rich characters to play.
M&C: Is there something in the research or the process that specifically helped you get into Adam’s head or his mindset?
Jared Leto: Absolutely. I mean, in this case, we had a book, we had podcasts, articles, speeches, and social media. There were people that I talked to that worked with him and others that grew up with him. And I spoke to Adam himself, so there was just an incredible amount of information out there.
M&C: Wow, what did he say?
Jared Leto: Well, he had a lot of curiosity about it; that’s for sure. I’m glad that I did have the opportunity to speak with him. No one knew that I was going to go meet with him. It’s kind of a secret that I kept. And then he gave an interview recently and mentioned that we had met, and so now the cat’s out of the bag. But it was informative, and I’m glad that I did it.
M&C: Being bold and being brave are repeated a lot in this series. What does that mean to you?
Jared Leto: It’s honestly something I remind myself to try and do every time I take on a role. To risk and to fail, is a really important thing to do in all aspects of life. When you’re acting, you want to fail often. It means that you’re attempting to take great risk, and that’s important to do.
M&C: Are you attracted to an underdog story?
Jared Leto: Yes, I think so. I certainly have felt that in my life, as a musician, as an artist. It’s something I can relate to for sure. Maybe, we all feel that way at some point.
M&C: Did you feel like when you were on the set, which was very specific, that you were part of something like WeWork?
Jared Leto: Absolutely. There was some community and culture, similar to a band of creative folks that are building something together. When you make a movie, you really feel kind of connected to this group of people because you’re all sharing a workload together. Whether it’s the grips on the set that goes out of their way to make life a little easier for you or a day player comes in, you’re all part of a powerful shared experience.
M&C: What did you enjoy about working with Anne Hathaway?
Jared Leto: Well, she’s an immense talent; she’s really one of the best. A real actor. I would call her ‘an actor’s actor.’ She’s so experienced, so well versed, and always prepared. In the moment and listening, ready, reactive to the smallest gesture and detail, and grabs an opportunity to take a scene in a different direction. And you know when you get on set with an actor of that caliber that it’s time to show up and do your best at delivering. I appreciate that. That was a great motivation for me.
M&C: Are there takeaways that you got or that you hope that the audience gets?
Jared Leto: I don’t really think about that too much, to be honest. I don’t know. But I hope at the end of it people are entertained and there’s a saying from Kurt Vonnegut in which he said, ‘Never let people feel like you’ve wasted their time.’ I think there’s something quite beautiful about that notion.
M&C: When you were making WeCrashed, did you think that the community aspect of it, especially coming two years after the pandemic when a lot of people work alone?
Jared Leto: There was something to that and we’ll see what happens in the future. If the work-from-home scenario is as compelling long term as people feel it is then I think WeWork is primed to do good business in the world that we’re living in because of the flex workspace.
M&C: Lastly, what’s the best advice you ever received?
Jared Leto: I think the best advice that I’ve gathered is to take great risks and to be unreasonably prepared.
For more Apple TV + check out, Exclusive: Audra McDonald tells tales of lovers, lockdown, and Zombies
WeCrashed debuts on Apple TV+ on March 18, with the first three episodes, followed by one new episode weekly, every Friday.