David Fincher's 1999 movie Fight Club is the definition of a cult classic. Initially tanking at the box-office and getting torn apart by critics for its excessively violent imagery, Fight Club went on to become a hit thanks to its DVD release, and to this day is a huge favorite among a certain younger male demographic the world over.
Jared Leto featured in the movie in the supporting role of Angel Face, a handsome young man who gets lured into the promise of the mythical "Fight Club" by the charismatic Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt. In an interview with GQ, Leto revealed how Pitt was instrumental in creating his striking look for the movie, with hair and eyebrows dyed almost completely white.
"I remember bleaching my hair and my eyebrows white. We did one pass, and I think it was Brad Pitt, he said something about, 'Billy Idol.' he was like, 'Blonder!' So we went even whiter with it. I liked being on that set because I got to watch Brad. He's incredibly loose, naturalistic; always does something very different take to take and that was interesting to see. Everyone on it just kind of felt like we were just getting into trouble and doing something that was potentially special but on the darker side of the universe."
Based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club told the story of a generation of disaffected young men who find the constant struggle for living a life based on glossy ads and glamour magazines increasingly hollow. Leto's Angel Face becomes one of a growing number of young men who attempt to find something real by attending a series of underground meetings, led by Durden, in which the participants beat each other up in groups of twos.
The movie's main point of contention has always been the very graphic scenes of fighting that Fincher filmed. In one scene in particular, the protagonist of the movie, played by Edward Norton, gives in to the anger building inside him and smashes Angel Face's face into a pulp. According to Leto, those scenes of brutal fisticuffs sometimes resulted in actual injury.
"The only thing that wasn't real was we weren't actually hitting each other, but we did get hit at times. It wasn't like it was perfectly choreographed. It was as real-fake as you can get, those fights were."
In the decades since the release of Fight Club, the movie has gradually found a new following not just among young men who find much to identify with in the film's attack on the corporatization of society, but also critics who at first dismissed the movie for its crude imagery and obsession with violence for its own sake. Clearly, Leto also looks back on the experience of making the movie with a great deal of fondness, even if his character had to endure one of the most brutal beatdowns in the history of cinema.