The cult-like component of 30 Seconds To Mars fandom has actually been acknowledged by the group. Since 2015, Leto has staged 30 Seconds To Mars “Summer Camps” for fans. Activities included yoga, cooking classes and – well, there’s always a downside – 30 Seconds To Mars performances.
In 2019, he took the camp to Croatia, where fans, who called themselves “The Echelon”, soaked up the sunshine and wore white robes. As did Leto, who looked like Jesus with a God complex. Just so nobody missed what he was going for, the band’s social media wrote: “Yes, this is a cult #MarsIsland.”
Leto may have styled himself the head of cult but his childhood reads closer to a Southern Gothic novel. He was born in impoverished Bossier City in northwestern Louisiana, where major local industry was a trio of riverside casinos. His father, Tony Bryant, abandoned the family when he was an infant. Leto recalled his father’s last words as, “I’ll see you kid, just going to the store to get a carton of milk”.
Bryant would die by suicide when Leto was eight. His mother Constance had by then moved back in with her parents. She later married Carl Leto, Jared’s adoptive father. Still, there was little stability in Leto’s life. By 16, he was taking drugs and paying for his habit with theft.
“There was a moment, involving a gun and some cocaine, that may have been a turning point for me. I knew it wasn’t good,” he would say. He turned himself around, though and, aged 22, had his big break, as Jordan Catalano in teen drama My-So-Called-Life.