Be careful what you say around Jared Leto; you never know when it will cost you. “We have a bet that every time you say the word [Gucci] you have to pay someone one hundred dollars,” the actor said, perched on a couch at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont a few months ago. He smiled. “And you’ve already said it twice.”
It was a get-rich-quick scheme (thankfully, a sarcastic one) for the actor, considering the topic at hand: Leto’s brand-new Gucci Guilty fragrance campaign, which officially drops today. “It seems like we just shot this thing, but it was a year ago,” Leto said, a collection of fragrance bottles sprawled out in the table in front of him. “And it’s finally out.” The campaign, titled #ForeverGucci, sees Leto collaborating once again with his close friend Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, as well as two new faces: Lana Del Rey and Courtney Love. Shot in Los Angeles, the campaign video is something of a celebration of the city, through a Gucci-fied lens, as Leto and Del Rey run around a motel, food store, and diner (with Love as a waitress) amid a crew of exotic animals. It’s all a tribute to the “uninhibited” fragrance, which is available as Gucci Guilty Pour Homme and Gucci Guilty Pour Femme beginning today. Here, Leto talks about working with Del Rey, nights out with Michele, and the one piece of clothing he refuses to wear.
What was it like shooting this campaign, compared to your first Gucci campaign?
It was very different. It’s incredible how, if you watch them back to back, it’s so different and it was all the same people, with the exception of one. The first one was very sensual, provocative, and a little more classic, in a way, even though there was a twist. I had short hair, and was clean-shaven and half-naked in a bathtub with a couple of different people. This was totally different. It was playful, whimsical, and nostalgic, and it celebrated a city that I’ve lived in for so long. I quite enjoyed working on it.
Do you receive scripts for these campaigns like you would with a movie role?
It’s a little bit looser than a film, so there’s room for improvisation. It’s really less of an acting role and really more of an art film. They just want to make something that they love.
Do you go to set with your own ideas of what you’d like to do?
Yes, sometimes. All of these things are just the result of a million choices and a billion decisions: the clothes, the flowers, the hair, the beard, the set, the lighting, the editing, the collaborators, the extras. All of it really determines that final outcome. It’s fascinating how it’s done. It’s a collaborative experience.
How was working with Lana on this campaign?
It was great. She’s such a sweet person. I really enjoyed my time with her. She looks like a million bucks. It was perfect. I think I had met her onstage at the MTV Awards the year before this, and I knew she was being talked about [for this]. She’s really sweet. I really think very highly of her.
Are you a fan of her music?
Yeah, it’s great.
And Courtney Love is also in this, as a surprise cameo.
A legend. I’m a big admirer of her as an artist.
When working with other musicians, does that add to the on-set energy in a different way than an actor might?
I didn’t really think of them as musicians through the process. I just looked at them as creative people. Lana, Alessandro, Courtney—they are just a bunch of creative people who want to make something crazy.
How has your relationship with Alessandro grown since you first met?
It’s been awhile. He’s great. He’s a good friend and a great collaborator. He’s a genius artist and designer. I think we have a lot in common: We are similar ages, we have similar creative pursuits, we love our work. It’s funny to say this, because it’s contradictory to our creative work, but in our lives we enjoy simple pleasures and a simple life. But we’re both risk-takers.
Has there ever been an outfit he’s given you that you didn’t want to wear because it’s too risky?
No. I don’t do dress shorts. I draw the line. And it’s not because I don’t have the legs for them—and I don’t, but that’s besides the point. I just don’t like dress shorts. It’s just not my thing. But there’s nothing [Gucci] has ever presented to me where I was like, “That’s too crazy.” It’s probably the opposite.
Do you have any favorite nights out with Alessandro from over the years?
Taking Alessandro to the Oscars was pretty fun. It’s just so crazy. I think if I took him now there would be a line of people following him just to say hi. Even at that time, people were so enamored with him and excited to meet him because he’s not in the Hollywood community, so he’s an exotic person. That was a fun night.
Has he come to see your band [30 Seconds to Mars] perform?
Yes, we saw each other a couple of times in Europe. That was a blast too.
Do you wear fragrance onstage when you’re performing?
If I remember. I’m a little forgetful.