“It’s the little things that count.” In the 2021 film “The Little Things,” directed by John Lee Hancock who also wrote the script, there are a lot of little details in this movie that are interconnected so much that it may take a couple of viewings to fully digest. In a way, taking the audience on their own investigation journey as they also decode the clues and events in this film.
The plot follows a fallen detective Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon, (played by Denzel Washington) who is sent on a mission to his old post in Los Angeles to obtain evidence for a pertinent case in his current district in Kern County. His predecessor, a young detective Jim Baxter played by Rami Malek comes to work closely with Washington in their pursuit to solve an ongoing serial killer case. One that Washington thinks is connected to his case up North. The duo quickly pinpoint a suspect, Albert Sparma, played by Jared Leto.
The first half of the film focuses on the setting-up of the three main characters in how they are interlocked. Then the second half of the movie zones-in on how the three interact and the results of those interactions. The final scene delivers zero satisfaction for viewers only leaving them with a lot of open-ended questions that may never be resolved unless there is a follow-up film that explores deeper into the Albert Sparma character.
With that open-ended question, in his interview with Jenelle Riley, an editor from “Variety,” actor Jared Leto said “I may be the only person in the world at this point who knows whether or not if Albert Sparma did it. And that’s kind of fun.” He said this is because director Hancock let him decide.
Leto said he has kept another secret of a different character years ago. It was when he was in the film “Blade Runner 2049,” director Denis Villeneuve left it up to him whether or not his character “Niander Wallace” was a replicant or not. Leto stated that “because I look into his mind, I’m the only one that has that answer.” Adding Sparma into that, he stated, “now I have two secrets to carry.”
Leto said in real life, he’s the opposite of secretive. He said he’s “a pretty transparent person,” and that “It’s fun when you’re acting to play around with that. Certainly the element of surprise was important with Sparma.” He said It was fun to use improvisation as a tool. “It kept me on my toes. It was fun for all of us,” said Leto.
When asked about taking-on the role. For Leto, it was a no-brainer. He said having Denzel Washington on board “was just mind-blowing to think about. And add Rami to that list. I just couldn’t say no.”
Leto was asked about his collaboration with director Hancock in forming the Albert Sparma character. Leto answered that Hancock hires actors that he believes in. He explained that Hancock takes off the shackles and lets you go to town. “He’s also the writer, so he gave me permission to explore, destroy, rebuild.” Leto said they both took advantage of that. He has faith in the actors to keep the intention precise and accurate. Leto stated that there was a lot of mutual respect and generosity. “My job was to come as prepared as I possibly can,” he said.
Another good question Leto was asked was if he based “Sparma” on any real-life serial killers or anyone in general? He said he did NOT base his character off of any other serial killers. But, “I did a lot of research in the world of crime. He’s (Sparma) a crime buff himself. I wanted to continue to educate myself in that way.” Instead, Leto spoke to criminologists. What audiences will see is a 360 transformation of Leto. He’s eye color is different; different body; different way of walking; different way of talking; and different teeth to portray Sparma.
Leto stated that for him, this physical transformation was a “mandate.” He said he wouldn’t be able to deliver anything worthy or meaningful if “I didn’t really have a huge challenge.” He also added, “I tend to do my best work not only in acting, but (in life) when I have the biggest challenge when I have the most risk.”
Did he learn anything new about himself while acting in this role? “I still feel like an amateur to be honest. And I’m learning” That’s what is so great about working with Denzel Washington. I’ts like a Master Class. I’m so grateful to have done this movie and so glad I said yes.”
Leto added, “one of the greatest gifts an actor or team of filmmakers can give you is to know that when you walk on that set, no matter what you’re going to be okay. You can take great risks, you can fail, fall flat on your face, and you’re in safe hands. I had that feeling from everybody on this.”
However, there was no real life hanging-out between Jared Leto and Denzel Washington while shooting this movie. Leto said on the set they kept their distance and during the press junket was when they spoke the most. There was no rehearsal (no table reads).
Leto said it was safe for Albert Sparma to keep his distance. “It’s so exciting to be in the presence of someone so great. And Rami as well.” Leto said it makes the acting so special and unique. And he admitted to still getting “first day jitters” on set.
Leto said it would be fun to play Sparma again, in the 1980s or 1990s. How does he get away, or wrap-up from playing a certain character? Leto stated, “usually I’m lucky because I have a band. That ‘s a great way to jump into something else that compels you to be in the moment. That’s a good way to kind of get out of things.”
“The Little Things” opens in theaters and will be available on HBO Max starting January 29th, 2021.
Source: SAG/AFTRA Movie Screening