By Max Berlinger.
When Gucci was looking for someone to be the face of their new fragrance, Gucci Guilty, it's hard to believe that anyone but Jared Leto was in the running. After all, the man wears Gucci better than anyone else—from the dandified tailoring to the more outré creations from the brand's creative director Alessandro Michele—a feat few men could pull off. "Alessandro has really done the impossible," Leto told us last year. "He’s taken this classic brand and really turned it completely around and taken it in a direction that was so unexpected." Now, with the launch of Gucci Guilty Absolute, a special collaboration between Michele and the famous perfumer Alberto Morillas, Leto is back to star in the campaigns and to embody the liberated man that the fragrance represents. We hopped on the phone with Leto to talk about his genuine love of all things Gucci, how important a role freedom plays in each of his endeavors, and his secret to looking so damn good at 45 (there's a lot of sleep involved).
Sometimes, when a celebrity endorses a fragrance, it can feel like they're just doing a job, but you very clearly have a connection to Gucci and Alessandro. What is it about him and his designs that speak to you?
There are a few things: Alessandro is a unique person. He's a master craftsman, he's a really talented designer, and he's a terrific artist. I think that's pretty clear in the work that he does and the response that he's gotten. On top of that, he happens to be a wonderful person, a really kind-hearted and generous human being and that makes everything all the more enjoyable. I really don't think about my relationship with Gucci as a working one, it's an organic and natural way to be involved. I care a great deal about the people over there and Alessandro is ... he's a friend. It's been, for me, an absolute pleasure and I'm really proud to know this group of people.
How did Alessandro approach you to work with you?
Again, it was really organic. We met in Los Angeles and we really connected, we're a similar age and we're both creative people and we love and are consumed by our work, so there was common ground there. I liked it, I thought he was sweet and thoughtful person and incredibly talented. It all stemmed from our getting to know each other.
For Gucci Guilty you're working as a model—as an Academy Award winning actor, do you approach it as a performance? Did you create a character and a storyline?
It's closer to acting, especially in this case because we were in Venice in the wintertime and it was empty and there was a haunted feeling in the city. We were shooting in this old villa and it was really beautiful. It was easy to conjure up a story about this guy and these two women and where they are at in their lives and how they met and what the week was about. We had fun making up a story there and I do think that it has more to do with creating a set of circumstances and building a character. We had fun, but we didn't go to deep. When you do an endorsement like this, you bring a piece of yourself to the table, it's not just a character, I think that's important ... Gucci was looking for someone unexpected, which is one of the reasons I got the call. But I think, again, it largely stems from Alessandro and I getting to know each other.
A big concept behind Gucci Guilty is the idea of freedom. How does that resonate with you in your role?
I think that it's an important thing to remember, one of the benefits of being an artist, is that there shouldn't be rules. It is a luxury to be able to have that, freedom, and it's important to embrace it if you want a successful and rewarding creative life. It's an essential part of being an artist. I guess the catch-22 is having opportunity and being tied down with the work that opportunity presents, it's a blessing and a curse, because it can infringe upon freedom. The challenge is finding the balance.
For me, I make music, I make films, I'm a director and producer, I'm an entrepreneur, I have 20-plus employees at any given time, I'm deeply involved with technology, I'm an investor in more than 47 companies, mostly tech, and I have a very full life. I guess one of the things to keep an eye on is making sure that you have the time and space needed to create. It's an important thing, you can get bogged down with opportunities — and it doesn't matter how wonderful they are, they can end up suffering if you don't create the time and space and freedom. I don't know why but I've been thinking a lot about that lately, about my friends who are creative. It's a constant challenge, because you need that time to mull over an idea, to daydream, to imagine, and to pursue the things you love. Life is fast, you know? It's short and it goes by quick.
Speaking of life being short, you do look incredible for 45. Do you have a crazy grooming regimen?
I really don't. The few secrets I have I shared with Alessandro and he holds them close to the chest. Good clean living is the best, and taking care of yourself. Sleep, sleep is a big one.
How many hours do you sleep?
As many as possible, because I do love to work, and if you're working all the time you need to reset your hard drive.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
This story originally appeared on GQ.
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