Entertainment Movies Jared Leto Says Learning About COVID Pandemic After Silent Retreat Was Like a 'Zombie Apocalypse' "It was like Rip Van Winkle," Jared Leto said Monday on The Tonight Show By Jen Juneau Jen Juneau Twitter Jen Juneau is a digital news writer for PEOPLE. A '90s teen and horror film connoisseur, she started at the brand in 2016, after a decade of working as a technical writer and then moonlighting as a journalist beginning in 2013. Originally from New Orleans, Jen grew up both in NOLA and Florida and eventually attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando (still her home base!), where she earned a bachelor's in English/technical communication, with a minor in magazine journalism. People Editorial Guidelines Published on January 26, 2021 01:30 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Jared Leto is remembering what it felt like to learn about the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, right after having been on a 12-day silent meditation. The Little Things actor spoke to Jimmy Fallon about his experience on Monday's episode of The Tonight Show, recalling that "there were about 150 cases" of coronavirus when he went away on his retreat. "And just in that short amount of time, when I came out, there was a shutdown, a state of emergency and the whole world had changed," said Leto, 49. According to the Oscar winner, the people who were running the retreat "didn't tell" participants what was going on, as it went against the entire point of the getaway. "We didn't have our phones; there was no talking, of course, no eye contact, no TV. And the teachers [made] a decision: 'Let's not disturb the participants,' " Leto told Fallon, 46. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Jared Leto. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon First U.S. Case of Highly Contagious COVID-19 Variant Originating from Brazil Confirmed in Minnesota Leto said he felt "kind of shocked" once he turned his phone back on as he was headed back home to Los Angeles. "I drove the whole way trying to be peaceful and zen, keep the feeling going. I got back and I was kind of shocked. It was like Rip Van Winkle," he explained. And while the Suicide Squad star "had this great tool to deal with stress and things in life," he admitted, "I don't think anything can quite prepare any us for what we all went through in the beginning." "It was like coming out to the zombie apocalypse," Leto said. RELATED VIDEO: Jared Leto Says He Was Camping Without Phone for 12 Days and Had "No Idea" About Coronavirus Leto first revealed back in March that he had been on a "silent meditation in the desert" and was shocked to see how much the world had changed upon his return. "We were totally isolated. No phone, no communication etc. We had no idea what was happening outside the facility," the actor wrote on Instagram. "Walked out yesterday into a very different world. One that's been changed forever. Mind blowing — to say the least." Since coming back into society, the Thirty Seconds to Mars lead singer explained that he'd been "getting messages from friends and family around the globe and catching up on what's going on." "Hope you and yours are ok. Sending positive energy to all. Stay inside. Stay safe," Leto closed out the post. The Little Things is out Friday in theaters and on HBO Max. As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.