Jared Leto is a very familiar face in recent film history. Although he has always been the lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and songwriter for American band Thirty Seconds to Mars, Leto is an accomplished actor merited by the numerous, challenging projects he has taken in his life. He is known to be selective about his film roles.
Jared Leto was born in Bossier City, Louisiana, to Constance "Connie" (Metrejon) and Anthony L. "Tony" Bryant. The surname "Leto" is from his stepfather. His ancestry includes English, Cajun (French), as well as Irish, German, and Scottish. Jared and his family traveled across the United States throughout his childhood, living in such states as Wyoming, Virginia and Colorado. Leto would continue this trend when he initially dropped a study of painting at Philadelphia's University of the Arts in favor of a focus on acting at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
In 1992, Leto moved to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career, intending to take acting roles on the side. Leto's first appearances on screen were guest appearances on the short-lived television shows Camp Wilder (1992), Almost Home (1993) and Rebel Highway (1994). However, his next role would change everything for Leto. While searching for film roles, he was cast in the show, My So-Called Life (1994) (TV Series 1994-1995). Leto's character was "Jordan Catalano", the handsome, dyslexic slacker, the main love interest of "Angela" (played by Claire Danes). Leto contributed to the soundtrack of the film, and so impressed the producers initially that he was soon a regular on the show until its end.
Elsewhere, Leto began taking film roles. His first theatrically released film was the ensemble piece, How to Make an American Quilt (1995), based on a novel of the same name and starring renowned actresses Winona Ryder, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Jean Simmons and Alfre Woodard. The film was a modest success and, while Leto's next film, The Last of the High Kings (1996), was a failure, Leto secured his first leading role in Prefontaine (1997), based on long-distance runner Steven Prefontaine. The film was a financial flop, but was praised by critics, notably Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. He also took a supporting role in the action thriller, Switchback (1997), which starred Dennis Quaid, but the film was another failure.