His performance received critical acclaim by film critics who notably praised the actor's emotional courage in portraying the character's physical and mental degradation.Peter Travers from Rolling Stone commented that Leto "excels by going beyond Harry's gaunt look to capture his grieving heart.Filming finished in early 2000, but the film was not released until March 2002 on home video formats, although originally scheduled for a theatrical release.

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When the group first started, Jared Leto did not allow his position of Hollywood actor to be used in promotion of the band.

In 1999, Leto played a gay high school teacher who attracts the attentions of Robert Downey, Jr.

The band achieved worldwide fame with the release of their second album A Beautiful Lie (2005).

Their following releases, This Is War (2009) and Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams (2013), received further critical and commercial success. His parents divorced when he was a child, and he and his older brother, Shannon Leto, lived with their mother and their maternal grandparents, Ruby (Russell) and William Lee Metrejon.

It reached number 107 on the US Billboard 200 and number one on the US Top Heatseekers.

Leto returned to acting in 2002 with the thriller Panic Room, which marked his second teaming with director David Fincher.

His scenes with Ellen Burstyn as Sara, Harry's widowed mother, achieve a rare poignancy as son and mother drown in delusions." Leto next appeared in the independent film Highway.

Set in 1994, Leto is caught with the wife of his employer, a Vegas thug, and flees to Seattle with his best friend Jake Gyllenhaal in the week preceding Kurt Cobain's suicide.

Leto is the lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and main songwriter for Thirty Seconds to Mars, a band he formed in 1998 in Los Angeles, California, with his older brother Shannon Leto.

Their debut album, 30 Seconds to Mars (2002), was released to positive reviews but only to limited success.

The same year, he starred as heroin addict Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream, an adaptation of Hubert Selby, Jr.'s novel of the same name, directed by Darren Aronofsky and co-starring Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans.