When Jared Leto emerged from a self-imposed two-week silent meditation retreat last March he said it felt like he was stepping into a “zombie apocalypse.” That’s because while he was diving into his inner environs, unbeknownst to him, California was starting to lock down due to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
“The idea is that you go away, you get rid of your phone. You get rid of distractions… you get rid of everything and you just meditate,” Leto explained to Jimmy Fallon on Monday night’s (Jan. 25) Tonight Show. “And when I went away there were about 150 cases. And just in that short amount of time when I came out there was a shutdown, a state of emergency and the whole world had changed.”
But while he was on the retreat, his teachers did not reveal what was going on and he couldn’t find out because, of course, there was no talking, no TV and no texting. Leto said he didn’t turn his phone back on until he got home because he was trying to stay “peaceful and zen” on the drive back to Los Angeles. “I got back and I was, you know, kind of shocked,” he said, describing the scene he returned to as something like a “zombie apocalypse.”
“It was like Rip Van Winkle… it was shocking,” he said. “I had to this great tool to deal with stress and things in life, but I don’t think anything can quite prepare any of us for what we all went through in the beginning.”
Leto talked about disappearing into a whole new persona for his new drama with one of his heroes, Denzel Washington, The Little Things, which is out this Friday (Jan. 29) in theaters and on HBO Max. With a fake nose, teeth, brown contacts and a whole new way of walking, Leto said his character required a “whole transformation.”
The Thirty Seconds to Mars singer also stuck around for a rematch of the game “30 Seconds to…,” in which he and Fallon had 30 seconds to complete a series of very dumb challenges. They kicked it off by seeing who could transfer the most goldfish crackers from one plate to another using just a straw before moving on to unwrapping Hershey’s Kisses while wearing oven mitts. No spoilers, but the final challenge was singularly stupid.
Check out Leto on The Tonight Show below.