Yesterday Jared Leto joined those commemorating Kurt Cobain’s passing in a somewhat odd way: he shared a video he’d uploaded privately six weeks ago, in which he portrays the late singer.
Leto was among the many artists inspired by Cobain, who “gave us all permission to create no matter what our skill set and reminded me that dreams are possible,” and he’s never been particularly emotionally withholding (which is part of why we enjoyed having 30 Seconds to Mars as VH1’s Posted artist last October).
His explanation of purpose also makes sense: “I heard they were making a film celebrating his life,” he wrote. “I made it to explore the character and explore creative possibilities.” But his admission that the film wasn’t shot as a tribute explains the very thing that’s weird about the video: its tone is, arguably, ill-suited for a memorial.
That note aside, the performance is masterfully imitative. Right-handed guitarist Leto plays lefty, as Cobain did, and sounds and moves almost uncannily like the late Nirvana frontman in post-In Utero days, both in song (much of “Pennyroyal Tea” and a snippet of “Rape Me”) and afield.
As for the film for which Leto considered auditioning, the past tense suggests that Leto is referring to Gus Van Sant’s 2005 quasi-biopic Last Days, but it’s more likely that this was shot in early 2009, after the Cobain biography Heavier than Heaven was optioned for a film but before that project got put on the back burner. Leto was spotted rocking the Cobain look at Fashion Week in February 2009.