Jared Leto’s Next Role: Karl Lagerfeld

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and Actor Jared Leto
Rindoff/Dufour/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Upon hearing the news that Jared Leto will portray a designer in an upcoming biopic, one might assume the actor is to take on the role of Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, Leto’s good friend and doppelgänger, but that would be incorrect. In his newest project, announced on Thursday, Leto will once again disappear into a character that will require a complete transformation, as well as some accent work. The actor is set to star as Karl Lagerfeld in a film about the German-born designer’s long life and illustrious career. The project is supported by the Lagerfeld fashion house, with many of the designer’s friends and former coworkers lending a hand to the project.

Leto told WWD, that when he first met Lagerfeld years ago, he told the designer, “You know, one day I have to play you in a movie.” Lagerfeld reportedly responded, “Only you, darling, only you.” Now, about three and a half years following the designer’s death in 2019 at the (reported) age of 85, Leto is fulfilling that promise. In addition to starring as the designer, Leto will also produce the project alongside his partner, Emma Ludbrook, through their production company, Paradox. In addition, three people from Lagerfeld’s inner circle—Pier Paolo Righi, Caroline Lebar, and Sébastien Jondeau—will be joining the project as executive producers. Righi has been the chief executive officer of the Karl Lagerfeld house since 2011 while Lebar worked as an advisor for the designer for 35 years. Finally, Jondeau spent two decades as Lagerfeld’s personal assistant and bodyguard, and continues to work with the brand to this day.

According to a press release, the film will “cover the key relationships in Karl Lagerfeld’s life, told though an unpredictable lens, much like the man himself.” As for it it will explore romantic relationships, Leto remained fairly coy. “There are a multitude of relationships to explore,” he told WWD. “Karl had a career that spanned 50-plus years so both personally and professionally he was close to a number of people. I can say we are going to home in on key relationships that convey different parts of his life.” The movie will likely also cover Lagerfeld’s time at Chanel and Fendi, where he cemented his legacy in the fashion canon.

According to Righi, the fashion house was approached many times over the years from producers interested in bringing Lagerfeld’s story to the screen. “It has been only since we met Jared and Emma that we felt truly confident about the story being told in the artistic way Karl would have loved to see,” the CEO said in the release. “Throughout our conversations we have created an equally trustful and inspiring creative relationship that will allow us to work together very fluidly on this beautiful project.” As of now, a director for the film has yet to be announced, and there is no timeline for when the film will be made.

Lagerfeld and Leto at the Dior Homme Menswear show in 2012.

Michel Dufour/French Select/Getty Images

Leto has been a fixture in the fashion scene for years, and met Lagerfeld many times, specifically in St. Tropez where the designer spent his summers. Recently, Leto has maintained a close relationship with Michele at Gucci, and plans to continue to work with him, but the actor believes that relationship will help him in this project. “Alessandro actually worked with Karl for about five years at Fendi and always has had the kindest things to say about him,” he told WWD.

Lagerfeld has been in the spotlight quite a lot recently. It was just announced the late designer will be honored at next year’s Met Gala, an announcement that divided the fashion world. While many believe the theme to be an obvious and well-deserved choice due to Lagerfeld’s great influence on the world of fashion, the announcement has also faced backlash with some citing the many controversial remarks the designer made during his lifetime.