SURE, HE CAN RUN—AS EVIDENCED in this winter’s biopic Prefontaine, about Olympic track star Steve Prefontaine. But Jared Leto, 25, can’t hide from the millions of teen girls who still see him as the dishy-but-distant Jordan Catalano leaning against a locker in My So-Called Life. With MTV periodically rerunning the critically lauded series (which originally aired on ABC in 1994-95), they won’t stop swooning any time soon. “It’s easy to believe that someone that beautiful doesn’t have much going on upstairs,” says Marshall Herskovitz, MSCL’s executive producer. “But Jared is a very funny, smart guy.” He is also something of a loner, a reflection of his itinerant childhood with a bohemian mother. “My father was not in the picture,” and the family was “food-stamp poor,” Leto told the March Details.
“The edge is what makes Jared interesting,” says Jeb Stuart, writer and director of the forthcoming Going West in America, in which Leto plays a serial killer opposite Dennis Quaid and Danny Glover. “He has this intensity behind his eyes; you don’t always know what he’s going to do next.” Jeepers, peepers. The Louisiana-born actor hikes and snowboards for recreation and spends his free time with his half wolf-half husky, Judas. Leto is “absolutely fearless,” says MSCL creator Winnie Holzman. “He’s somebody who totally does not rely on his good looks but wants to be a good actor. What’s great about Jared is that he knows he’s much more than his face.”