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AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD’s Q1 2014 financial report shows a drop back into the red with a $20M loss, although investors seem bullish on the company’s future.


AMD’s most recent earnings report has investors impressed, with the company’s stock price rising almost 12 per cent on news of $1.4 billion in sales – despite an overall loss of $20 million for the first quarter of its financial year.

AMD’s quarterly earnings call this week announced $1.4 billion in revenue for Q1 2014, an impressive rise of 28 per cent year-on-year at a time when the global PC market is continuing to shrink – albeit slower than previously. While the quarter-on-quarter shrinkage of 12 per cent might seem like bad news, that’s comparing heavier sales in the run-up to Christmas to the post-Christmas slump; a sequential dip at this time is always to be expected.

A gross profit margin of just 35 per cent, indicative of AMD’s push towards the lower end of the market in CPUs and strong competition from rival Nvidia in GPUs, led to overall operating income of $49 million for the quarter; not enough, sadly, to prevent a loss of $20 million overall. With AMD ending the last quarter on an $89 million profit, that’s a blow – although one significantly less strong than the whopping $146 million loss the company made in the same quarter last year.

AMD continued our momentum by building on the solid foundation we set in the second half of 2013, further transforming the company,‘ claimed AMD president and chief executive Rory Read during the call with press, investors and analysts. ‘Backed by our powerful x86 processor cores and hands-down best graphics experiences, we achieved 28 percent revenue growth from the year-ago quarter. We are well positioned to continue to grow profitably as we diversify our business and enable our customers to drive change and win.

The company’s results show that the PC market slump, while slowing, is continuing to have an impact: AMD’s Computing Solutions business unit’s revenue dropped eight per cent quarter-on-quarter and 12 per cent year-on-year, due to a drop in shipments. Its operating loss, however, was a mere $3 million; down from $7 million last quarter and a painful $39 million in the same quarter last year.

AMD’s Graphics and Visual Solutions business unit is the most interesting story, however: a 15 per cent drop in sequential shipments has been more than offset by an impressive 118 per cent increase year-on-year, attributed to the company’s deals to put semi-custom system-on-chip (SoC) processors in the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. Overall, the division made a $91 million profit for the year, down from $121 million last quarter when Microsoft and Sony purchased their console chips but up from just $16 million in the same quarter last year.

During the conference call, AMD’s Lisa Su, general manager of global business units, confirmed that the company is still in the design stages of a new semiconductor process node. ‘We are 28 [nanometre] this year, we have 20 nanometre in design, and then FinFET thereafter,‘ she claimed in response to an analyst query – suggesting that 20nm parts won’t be available in quantity until 2015 at the earliest, with the 3D FinFET transistor move – designed to compete with Intel’s Tri-Gate Transistor technology – likely to come the year after.

Su also had positive things to say about AMD’s foray into the low-power server market with Cambridge-based ARM’s IP. ‘There’s been a lot of customer interest around Seattle [chips], so certainly for the server guys, the hyper-scale guys and then even some adjacent markets, there’s good customer interest, claimed Su. ‘I’ll say the interest in the platform is quite high and it’s a major milestone for us to introduce our first 64-bit ARM chip into the market.

What we’re doing here is identifying this opportunity long before it has taken place,‘ added Read, ‘and we’re catching it just as the way it is forming. That’s the kind of innovation leadership that we really want to go after. This is going to be an important market over the next three, five years, and we have an opportunity to truly lead in this ARM server ecosystem, and take advantage of our ambidextrous capability. This is spot-on in the strategy.

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Intel Q1 financials show data centre growth

Intel Q1 financials show data centre growth

Intel’s Q1 2014 results slightly exceeded analysts’ expectations, but the company’s mobile arm is suffering a significant drop in revenue.


Intel has released its financials for the first quarter of 2014, and things are looking good with better-than-expected results despite its continued struggles to break into the mobile arena and a still-shrinking desktop market.

The company’s official figures for the quarter show $12.8 billion in revenue, exactly matching analysts’ expectations, with a gross profit margin of 59.7 per cent for a total earnings per share of $0.38 – above the $0.37 average expected by analysts. $3.1 billion of this came from the Data Centre Group, responsible for server and high-performance computing (HPC) products, which enjoyed a bumper 11 per cent boost in revenue over the same period last year; the PC Client Group, which targets the still-shrinking PC market, brought in the lion’s share at $7.9 billion, a one per cent drop compared to Q1 2013.

In the first quarter we saw solid growth in the data centre, signs of improvement in the PC business, and we shipped five million tablet processors, making strong progress on our goal of 40 million tablets for 2014,‘ claimed Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich during the company’s earnings call. ‘Additionally, we demonstrated our further commitment to grow in the enterprise with a strategic technology and business collaboration with Cloudera, we introduced our second-generation LTE platform with CAT6 and other advanced features, and we shipped our first Quark products for the Internet of Things.

Other highlights include a 10 per cent quarter-on-quarter drop in revenue for the Internet of Things Group which ended the quarter with $482 million in revenue, still an 11 per cent improvement over the same period last year thanks largely to new low-power Atom and Quark processor products. The company’s Mobile and Communications Group, responsible for smartphone and tablet oriented chips, was by far the biggest loser: with just $156 million in revenue, its income was down 52 per cent quarter-on-quarter and a massive 61 per cent compared to Q1 2013.

Investors seem pleased with Intel’s performance in the quarter, with the company’s share price rising 1.08 per cent in pre-market trading to $27.06, still short of its recent April 2012 high of $28.38.

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Google pledges January launch for Project Ara

Google pledges January launch for Project Ara

Google’s Project Ara, created by one-time subsidiary Motorola and based on Dave Hakkens’ Phonebloks concept, is scheduled to hit the market in January 2015.


Advertising giant Google has confirmed that it is forging ahead with the Project Ara modular smartphone concept, and plans to release the first commercially available parts in January 2015.

Originally developed by Motorola Mobility based on concept work carried out by Dave Hakkens under the name Phonebloks, Project Ara was acquired by Google when it picked up the Mobility division from Motorola. Although the company would go on to sell the bulk of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo it kept hold of Project Ara, announcing in February this year commercialisation plans for the technology.

Project Ara aims to offer the same level of customisation available in the PC world to the smartphone – and, eventually, tablet, markets. The Ara platform uses a central chassis dubbed an Endo, to which component modules are connected via magnets. These modules contain everything from the display to the processor, storage, camera and battery, and can be assembled in almost any combination or pattern. As well as ending the annual phone upgrade cycle – the Endo itself, Google claims, would be good for five to six years – by offeringthe chance of incremental upgrades, the system would also allow for complete customisation: one Endo may have a high-end processor and high-spec camera, while another opts for a slower processor, no camera and a bigger battery for longer runtime.

Google held its first Project Ara developers’ conference this week, and CNET reports that it offered a timeline to commercialisation: the first Project Ara Endo will be on sale, barring any major setbacks along the way, in January next year for just $50. It will be joined by a range of component modules, although the specification and pricing for these has not yet been confirmed.

Google also outlined fabrication hardware for the modules themselves, developed in conjunction with academic and business partners and taking the form of large-scale 3D printers capable of working with conductive materials. More details on these will be provided at the next conference in July.

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E.T. excavation opens up to spectators

E.T. excavation opens up to spectators

There has never been an official confirmation that the landfill site is where the better part of 3.5 million unsold E.T cartridges were buried.


The impending excavation of the landfill where Atari was rumoured to have crushed and buried millions of unsold E.T. game cartridges has been opened up to the public.

The event is set to become part of a documentary backed by Xbox Entertainment Studios and produced by Fuel Entertainment. The dig was given the green light last week and now Microsoft has extended the invitation to attend to everyone.

Attendees might even be interviewed for the documentaries alongside E.T the Extra-Terrestrial video game designer Howard Scott Warshaw, the team of archaeologists and other people connected to the project.

Work on unearthing the dumped cartridges will begin on April 26 and 9:30 AM and run through until 7:30 PM at the Alamogordo landfill site in New Mexico. Xbox Entertainment Studios will be publishing the finished film as part of a documentary series.

Plans to unearth the abandoned cartridges were first announced in June 2013 and the project was briefly put on hold last week as the team was required to obtain special permission before any digging could take place.

The landfill site is purportedly the final resting place of the bulk of approximately 3.5 million unsold cartridges of 1983′s E.T video game from Atari, a title often name-checked as one of the worst video games in the industry’s history and a commercial failure that is credited as almost killing off video games as a business entirely.

Whether or not the burial site does in fact inter these cartridges has never been officially confirmed, and official statements claim that only broken and returned materials were dumped.

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Kingston launches entry-level HyperX Fury RAM

Kingston launches entry-level HyperX Fury RAM

Kingston’s HyperX Fury adds a new entry point to the gamer-oriented family, offering 4GB and 8GB modules in a choice of four colours.


Memory giant Kingston has announced a new line of memory modules for gamers and overclockers on a budget: the HyperX Fury range.

Designed as a new entry-point for the company’s existing HyperX family, the HyperX Fury is designed to offer performance without breaking the bank. The modules come with pre-loaded ‘overclocked’ profiles, the company claims, which mean peak performance when connected to a system without the need for manual overclocking – although that functionality will, naturally, still be available for those who want it. How this differs from any existing memory modules with AMD Memory Profile (AMP) or Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) support has not yet been explained by the company.

The Fury modules themselves boast a new heatspreader design, which will be available in black, blue, red and white finishes for coordination with existing system components; all modules will feature black PCBs. The range will also be extended with the addition of a matched Fury SSD family in the near future, with Kingston yet to provide a release date.

We are excited to offer our newest addition to the HyperX DRAM family for entry-level enthusiasts who want to maximise their gaming and user experience,‘ crowed Lawrence Yang, business manager of Kingston’s HyperX division, at the launch. ‘This is a great product for someone looking to upgrade their gaming system at an affordable price.

The HyperX Fury range is available in 4GB and 8GB singles along with 8GB and 16GB double-packs at speeds of 1,33MHz, 1,600MHz and 1,866MHz; those looking for 2,100MHz or higher speeds are pushed up to the more expensive members of the HyperX family. UK pricing is set at around £30 for the 4GB modules, £55 for the 8GB, £58 for the 8GB kit and £110 for the 16GB kit. Buyers can choose CAS Level 9 or 10 timings for most modules, with the faster modules affording a higher price.

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Dropbox criticised for Rice board membership

Dropbox criticised for Rice board membership

The Drop Dropbox campaign calls for the resignation of Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, from her new role on the board of the cloud storage giant.


The appointment of former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the board of cloud storage giant Dropbox has caused an uproar among privacy activists, with many calling for her immediate resignation.

Echoing the recent appointment of JavaScript creator Brendan Eich to the role of Mozilla Corporation chief executive and his rapid resignation following public protest over his support of the anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8, the appointment of Rice to Dropbox’s board has led to protests and calls for boycotts.

Announced at the same time as the appointment of former Motorola chief executive Dennis Woodside as chief operating officer and the promotion of Sujay Jaswa to chief financial officer, Dropbox founder Drew Houston spun Rice’s appointment as a positive. ‘When looking to grow our board, we sought out a leader who could help us expand our global footprint. Dr. Rice has had an illustrious career as Provost of Stanford University, board member of companies like Hewlett Packard and Charles Schwab, and former United States Secretary of State,‘ explained Houston. ‘We’re honoured to be adding someone as brilliant and accomplished as Dr. Rice to our team.

Critics are saying that Houston has left off a few other, more questionable, achievements from that list: acting as National Security Advisor to President Bush in the run-up to the war with Iraq, supporting the decision to invade based on flawed intelligence; giving the go-ahead to the Bush administration’s use of ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques which amounted to torture of suspects; serving on the board of oil giant Chevron; and supporting and directly authorising warrantless wiretaps of UN Security Council members.

It’s the latter, in particular, that has privacy activists in a stir. ‘Given everything we now know about the US’s warrantless surveillance program, and Rice’s role in it, why on earth would we want someone like her involved with Dropbox,‘ a protest site enquires, ‘an organisation we are trusting with our most important business and personal data?

Dropbox has not yet responded to criticisms surrounding Rice’s appointment to the board.

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GlobalFoundries rumoured to be sniffing around IBM’s fabs

GlobalFoundries rumoured to be sniffing around IBM's fabs

GlobalFoundries has been named as the strongest contender in a deal to purchase IBM’s unwanted semiconductor fabrication facilities.


GlobalFoundries has been named as a possible buyer for IBM’s unwanted chip-making facilities, although a deal is not considered imminent thanks to IBM’s high asking price.

Once a subsidiary of AMD, GlobalFoundries was created in 2008 as a joint partnership btween AMD and the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC). All AMD production would continue in the fabs it once owned, but AMD would pay GlobalFoundries for the privilege. In 2012, its final financial ties were severed when its spin-off agreed terms to purchase AMD’s stake outright. Since then, AMD has continued to use GlobalFoundries thanks largely to pre-signed wafer supply agreements still in place.

IBM, meanwhile, is looking to exit the fabrication business thanks to declining interest in the company’s Power architecture for mainstream products. With its fabs sold IBM would, it is claimed, look towards service provision rather than hardware sales for its profit. The news came on the back of IBM’s sale of its low-end x86 server division to Lenovo, the Chinese technology giant which also bought the rights to IBM’s consumer PC business.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting unnamed sources ‘familiar with the matter‘, claims that talks are in progress for GlobalFoundries to buy the now-unwanted IBM plants. Another company named as a bidder for the facilities is Intel, but with the company having recently opted to abandon a fully-finished fabrication plant due to a lack of demand for its capacity, GlobalFoundries is considered to be in a stronger position.

The WSJ’s sources warn that a deal is unlikely to happen imminently, however. IBM is claimed to be looking for at least $2 billion for the facilities, while bidders including GlobalFoundries and Intel have yet to offer substantially more than half that price.

Neither GlobalFoundries nor IBM have commented publicly on the claims.

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Intel announces Braswell, Cherry Trail

Intel announces Braswell, Cherry Trail

Intel’s Bay Trail architecture is to be succeeded by a low-cost system-on-chip design dubbed Braswell and a higher-priced family known as Cherry Trail.


Intel has announced its planned successors for the Bay Trail architecture, 14nm designs dubbed Braswell and Cherry Trail and aimed at low-cost portables.

Unveiled at the company’s Intel Developer Forum China last night, little is known about the new designs beyond their overall aims and the company’s use of a 14nm process node – and, Kirk Skaugen told attendees, Intel’s hopes to use the chips to help Google grow its Chromebook and Chromebox businesses.

Braswell will focus on ultra-low cost devices, Intel claimed, and use a system-on-chip (SoC) design to reduce the size of the final product as well as the number of supporting chips required. The result, it is claimed, will be entry-level smartphones and tablets boasting a full 64-bit x86 implementation and with excellent power draw.

Braswell is to be joined by Cherry Trail, a more powerful design still based on a 14nm process. Unlike the smartphone-oriented Braswell, Cherry Trail will be aimed at tablets and will offer higher performance at the cost of size and power draw. No performance figures were provided for either design, however.

Intel also told attendees of changes it plans to make to its Bay Trail design, promising new models which will reduce the cost of the processors and their supporting components still further. The aim, it is claimed, is for the company’s customers to be able to launch tablets based on Bay Trail designs for under $100 (around £60 excluding taxes) – a price point currently the exclusive preserve of ARM-based systems from semiconductor companies like AllWinner.

The announcement of the new designs comes as Intel looks to partner with software companies to develop packages exclusive to Intel’s own chips, something its rival AMD has previously investigated with projects like the AMD AppZone.

Release dates and pricing for Braswell and Cherry Trail parts were, naturally, not part of Intel’s presentation.

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EC greenlights Games Production Tax Credit scheme

EC greenlights Games Production Tax Credit scheme

UK games companies, like Revolution Software, can now apply for tax breaks under the long-delayed Games Production Tax Credit scheme.


The European Commission has greenlit the Games Production Tax Credit scheme, a programme of tax breaks for the UK games industry that will allow for a claimed £188 million in addition investments through to 2019.

The Association for United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) has welcomed the news with the launching of roadshows designed to show how the programme can benefit UK games developers and publishers. The credit scheme isn’t open to all, however: those wishing to take advantage of it will need to submit their projects to the British Film Institute (BFI) for a ‘cultural test,’ in which it will be decided if the game represents the culture of the UK – meaning games like Grand Theft Auto, developed in the UK but set in the US, would not qualify.

This is very welcome news for the UK games industry that will secure economic and cultural sustainability for the industry as a whole,‘ claimed Noirin Carmody, chief operating officer of Revolution Software and UKIE board member of the news. ‘The tax breaks will maintain creativity and innovation in established games businesses like Revolution resulting to increased growth and encourage new start-ups.

‘Revolution have been writing games in York for over 24 years and during this time we have experienced how difficult it can be to balance creating original content with the commercial realities of a crowded global marketplace and attracting the best talent. The new tax breaks will give us and other games business of all sizes, throughout the UK, an amazing opportunity to attract skilled talent that we need to make new and exciting British content that can sell to an expanding global audience.’

The tax breaks aren’t being considered a panacea for the games industry, however. ‘Small companies, like those formed by increasing number of Abertay University graduates, face many other problems to getting a company off the ground including getting the right business advice, gathering enough cash to found a business, and then seeking out the business opportunities for contract work, investment and publishing deals,‘ explained Professor Louis Natanson of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abartay University. ‘What Scotland and the UK need for future economic success is a sustainable games industry ecosystem, which includes tax breaks, industry-relevant education for students, links with active investors and publishers, business and marketing support, and innovation in terms of how games projects raise investment.

‘Today is a very positive day for the UK’s games industry, but continued hard work from educators, game developers, industry supporters and government is needed for this high-growth, high-potential industry to reach its full potential.’

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Interview: London Evening Standard

Leto has made his entrance tonight in a black hooded coat, wielding a baseball bat; more LA drugs dealer than the politically engaged figure in an oversized bow tie he cut at the Oscars. With suitable drama, he throws off the jacket to expose the full glory of his rock Jesus look — shades, man-leggings, tunic skirt, sleeveless T-shirt — whereupon he unleashes his power-vocals on to his fans for two adrenaline-fuelled hours: jumping, grinding, sprinting and simultaneously flirting with what feels like every single member of the crowd. ‘I don’t dive into the mosh pit any more,’ he whispers to me on a break. ‘It’s the fastest way to lose your penis. And I’m proud to say mine is still intact.’

The show is part full-on rock extravaganza, part interactive Leto comedy routine. ‘Hey you,’ he cries into his mic. ‘Great mullet, man. That’s my next haircut. Business at the front. Party at the back.’ This culminates with a stage invasion and a mass selfie, his second of the week: the 42-year-old in a huddle of ecstatic Scandi teens.

It is curious, to some, that Hollywood’s man of the moment would disappear off in the vital afterglow of his Best Supporting Actor win to revel so intimately with the global masses. But then Leto doesn’t follow protocol. Six years before his return to film as Rayon, an HIV-positive, pre-operative transwoman in Dallas Buyers Club, he walked away from Hollywood to tour with his band despite consistent critical acclaim for his gritty, transformative roles. Leto has eschewed the blockbuster juggernaut to success in favour of the slow train, via occasional, challenging roles in the likes of Requiem for a DreamFight Cluband Panic Room. Plus, he has other commitments. He is not only a method actor and singer-songwriter, but a video and documentary producer-director, photographer, painter, businessman and activist. ‘I just follow my gut — as Andy Warhol said, “Labels are for cans not people,” ’ he tells me after the gig.

All this makes Leto a very busy man. After partying all night at the Oscars (‘It was pretty f***ing fantastic to see all those Hollywood dreamers letting loose with such abandon. I looked over and my mother was dancing with Madonna’), and taking a hangover hike to Malibu, he flew to Paris for meetings, the Miu Miu fashion show and more fun: his close friend the photographer Terry Richardson was in town and shot him for this magazine before Leto attended an obscure music awards in Finland, his every word and move pounced on by the global media.

Finally, at 1am, I am whisked past a line of deflated-looking groupies into his dressing room. They eye me up along the corridor, turning a pale shade of green.

‘I’m starting to come down off the week-long pink-cloud high now,’ he tells me, dishing me up some of his tomato soup and a vegetable curry (he is vegan). I can confirm that there is no beer backstage. And I’m a little disappointed that he’s come down from jacked-up flirting mode. Tonight Leto is more business at the front, party at the back.

We start sensible: he doesn’t seem the type, I say, to care about Hollywood accolades. ‘I don’t.’ He slumps down on a black leather sofa. ‘But I would never say, “I don’t give a shit about the Oscars,” because it’s not the whole truth. It’s not about the shiny, naked golden man, or the pat on the back, it’s about being able to stand on a world stage for two minutes in front of a billion people and say something that is meaningful, important to you.’ Leto name-checked his older brother, best friend and bandmate 44-year-old Shannon, his single mum, AIDS victims, outsiders in general, and those fighting for their dreams in Venezuela and Ukraine. ‘I could have really taken the piss. But I didn’t want to wing it with this one. I prepared. I wanted to keep it classy.’ By contrast, at the Independent Spirit Awards, he poked fun at the rumours that constantly trail him: by reputation he is a legendary lothario, recently linked with Lupita Nyong’o, Miley Cyrus and his ex-girlfriend Scarlett Johansson. He thanked ‘all the women I’ve been with, and all the women who think they’ve been with me’ as well as his ‘future ex-wife Lupita’. He tweeted selfies of the pair together in Paris, presumably to cause a stir. It has since been confirmed that they are not, in fact, dating.

At the Golden Globes he shared with Hollywood’s finest that he had waxed his entire body to play Rayon, but stopped short of a Brazilian and had not used prosthetics. What did he do with his male appendage, I ask now — strap it back? ‘A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. But, let’s just say, there are times when you’re not as prepared as you’d like to be…’ he answers cryptically, raising an eyebrow.

Leto seems to flit between composed, pale blue-eyed earnestness and cheeky provocation. ‘I thought about dragging up for the Oscars, going as Rayon, because I knew that she would have loved to be there,’ he says. ‘It’s so much work for girls to get ready. I was brought up by my mum, so I always had an appreciation of women. But now I have more respect for the process. It’s a lot, what women have to do to themselves. But in the end, when you put that final dash of lipstick on and your look all comes together, it really is a glorious reward.’

His sassy, fragile and very human portrayal of Rayon — ‘a hot mess’, as he calls her — and his thoughtful acceptance speech made Leto the true hero of Oscars night. The industry seems to have fallen for a man who, by playing the basic principles of hard-to-get, cannot be fully seduced by it. Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Oprah Winfrey all approached him with open arms on the night, Stevie Nicks gave him the necklace he is now wearing, Al Pacino has since ‘reached out’ — they are due to meet for coffee — and there have been several calls from the White House. ‘There are some exciting proposals. But I don’t know how much more I’m allowed to say. I probably need to clear it with the CIA first.’ Leto is a vociferous Obama supporter and raised funds for the 2008 re-election campaign. He has protested against California’s Proposition 8, which aimed to overturn same-sex marriage, and raised money for Haitian Relief as well as human rights and environmental charities.

I wonder if he is considering another career, in politics. ‘My mum was a teenager when she had us; she used food stamps to feed us, she got helped by social services to go back to school and train as a nurse to try to give her kids some stability. So if I can help or be of service in any way…’ he says. ‘But you know what? I’m too impatient. I’d probably swear in a speech. As George Clooney says, “I’ve f***ed too many chicks and done too many drugs to be in politics.” ’

It’s hard to reconcile Leto the wild front man with the committed method actor who performs extreme feats of self-remoulding in order to morph into his dark, outsider roles. The road to this is more lonely and torturous. During filming for Dallas Buyers Club, Leto only ever appeared on set as Rayon, not ‘meeting’ his co-star Matthew McConaughey or the other actors until after they had wrapped. He even donned lipstick and a pink fluffy jumper and flirted his arse off for his first Skype meeting with director Jean-Marc Vallée. ‘Maybe if I was making romantic comedies, there’d be more immediate silliness, more hanging out in each other’s trailers,’ he tells me. ‘I’ve never really had the kind of joy I experience with the band on set, but then I’m not really looking for that.’

Leto likens his process to ‘being a sculptor’. He lost two stone, lived rough on the streets and abstained from sex with his then girlfriend Cameron Diaz to become the drug-addicted Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream in 2000. He force-fed himself into obesity, putting on five stone to accurately portray John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 in 2007, for which he eventually suffered gout and was temporarily confined to a wheelchair (take that, Shia LaBeouf). In Mr Nobody, he underwent six hours of make-up to play a decrepit 118-year-old. Like his character Angel Face in Fight Club, who is happily freed from the prison of handsomeness when he is beaten to a pulp and permanently disfigured, Leto appears to make an effort to mask the pretty-boy looks for which, in 1994, he was cast in teen series My So-Called Life. But there is more to this, I say, something self-destructive…

‘All my roles are masochistic or… sadistic.’ His eyes flash with naughtiness. ‘Is that going to be your headline? “Jared Leto: masochist or sadist? You decide.” ’ The sexual edges of this theme can be found in his music. The SM-themed video for ‘Hurricane’, which he directed in 2007, was censored by MTV, and in ‘End of All Days’, on his new album Love Lust Faith + Dreams, he sings: ‘I punish you with pleasure, I pleasure you with pain…’

‘I have very strong self-control. There is something very seductive about it,’ he admits when we discuss his crash, three-stone weight loss for Rayon, during which the slight actor virtually stopped eating. (He used to go to the supermarket just to stare at the food.) ‘I got to understand the mentality of an eating disorder. There are the highs of losing more weight; there’s a rush of endorphins associated with that control. When you have made a severe commitment to losing weight, there is a lot of shame and guilt around eating again. I really suffered that, it’s not a nice feeling…’ But Leto found solace in self-exploration. ‘The process can be very monk-like — there is a history of people who have fasted to achieve enlightenment. There is something in that, getting to know who you are. It changed me.’

I ask him if it was easier to get into the feminine headspace because he was so close to his mum growing up. Was there already a dash of oestrogen in him? ‘Oestrogen?’ He laughs, a little offended. ‘I guess you haven’t heard all the rumours… No, I became a detective, I met with transgendered people, I asked questions: “What was it like to tell your parents?” “What’s it like to be judged?” ’ He experienced this when he first dragged-up and went into Whole Foods. ‘You don’t have to desire the surgery to have your penis cut off, but you do have to understand it. We all have issues with our identity, or know what it’s like not to belong.’

Leto grew up an outsider. His father left after he was born, and Leto never saw him again. (He committed suicide when Leto was eight.) Leto’s teenage mother and the boys eventually fled Louisiana, where they lived with her Cajun parents in a one-bedroom house, to join the hippie movement. They lived in communes, mixed with artists and musicians, and moved around a lot — from Wyoming to Virginia, Colorado, Alaska, Brazil and Haiti — constantly having to make new friends and reinvent themselves. It’s hard to pin Leto down on all of this. He prefers to keep an air of apocryphal mystique. At one point, when we talk about his forefathers, he says that most of his family ‘were probably all in prison’.

Leto grew up wanting to be either a drugs dealer or an artist. At 16, he dropped out of school, before returning to another in Washington. The Leto boys were wild and unruly; they dabbled with drugs, broke into offices and warehouses to steal booze and motorbikes: ‘Other kids went to summer camp; we stole your car.’ Leto steered himself out of the nosedive when he got into college in Philadelphia to study art, and later on to a film course at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The creative focus was his salvation. Meanwhile, Shannon descended further into drug addiction, car-jacking and trouble with the police — the kind of downward spiral that Leto brutally documents in Requiem for a Dream.

But when he moved to LA to pursue a career in music (he says acting was merely a day job to pay the rent), Shannon joined him and they formed the band in 1998. ‘Music saved his life. It was either that or prison. It saved both of us really. Shannon started drumming on pots and pans from an early age; I played a broken, second-hand piano.’

Life on the road with his brother is, after all, what Leto grew up with; it satisfies his constant need for adventure, newness, change. (Thirty Seconds to Mars recently set a Guinness World Record for the most tour dates, 309, on one album cycle.)

Now in his forties, Leto still looks and acts at least a decade younger. There are no plans to stop touring now that, after years of graft, the band has achieved global recognition: Love Lust Faith + Dreams has sold ten million copies and their shows are mainly sold out. ‘We don’t give a shit about our ages. We’re not worrying about that. There are no rules,’ he tells me. And what if he met some girl he wanted to settle down with? ‘Then she’d better have a passport… look at the Rolling Stones, they just keep on going. Maybe me and my brother will be shaking it up there in our sixties. Who knows? Or maybe I’ll just walk away.’

He is even more freewheeling about his future film plans. He’d like to direct a long-form narrative, he says. He has already won multiple MTV awards for Thirty Seconds to Mars’ videos, and a People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival for his 2012 documentary Artifact. This charted the creation of the band’s album This is War and their battle in 2008 with their record label EMI, which sued them for $30 million following a dispute over royalties when, after a tour and successful album, the band found themselves millions of dollars in debt. (The case was eventually dropped.)

For now, however, Leto’s eye is set firmly on his tour schedule. His devotion to his band is almost religious. Next up is Russia, followed by Ukraine. ‘I read that they censored my speech in Russia. They cut what I said about Ukraine. But I’m fully intending to sing ‘This is War’ there.’ Leto usually accompanies the song’s lyrics ‘To fight, to fight, to fight!’ with rampant flag-waving and air fist-pumping. ‘Shit could go down. We’ve already heard some things on the ground that are concerning. Through the band, we are really engaged with young voices all over the world through our social network feeds. I’ve learned so much travelling the world these past six years, it’s changed me. It’s made me a better actor…’

More than anything, Leto is fighting exhaustion now. His eyes are glassy, like marbles, and slowly starting to shut. He only has a few hours to pack and get on a flight to Belarus. He reverts to his humble Academy Awards speech mode, and thanks me for the interview. ‘I’m sorry but I really need to crash,’ he croaks gently.

It looks like Jared Leto’s Oscars week has officially come to an end.

Article source: http://jaredleto.com/thisiswhoireallyam/2014/03/20/interview-london-evening-standard/