Why people are convinced Jared Leto runs a cult

The story is stranger than you'd expect.
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He’s an Academy Award-winning actor and frontman of the band 30 Seconds To Mars, so why is everyone convinced Jared Leto is running a cult?

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He’s known for his whacky red carpet appearances and hit-and-miss movies, which include everything from Dallas Buyers Club to Morbius.

But the cult rumours all began when the 50-year-old led an intense three-day retreat on a private island, where he dressed in all-white and encouraged attendees to get matching tattoos.

His band’s running motto is even “Yes, this is a cult” – but does the actor actually run a cult, and what claims have been made against him?

The cult rumours began back in 2019, when a photo was posted to Twitter showing a long-haired Leto dressed in a white robe leading similarly dressed followers around a private island.

When Jared Leto’s band shared this photo from ‘Mars Island’ social media went into overdrive. (Credit: Twitter)

It was snapped during his band’s Mars Island retreat, where they offered fans the chance to escape to a Mediterranean island for an intimate three-day experience.

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“Mars Island is a three night, all inclusive festival experience,” the band’s website used to read on a page which is now password protected.

“Relax and restore with yoga amongst the trees, take a dip in the pool, catch a midnight screening or gaze at the stars, and catch two intimate performances with Thirty Seconds To Mars. Mars Island is an experience like no other.”

Ticket prices ranged from just under $1,500 for a basic package (not including flights) all the way up to almost $4,400 for the top tier experience.

Snaps from the intimate retreat had some speculating Jared was running a ‘cult’. (Credit: Twitter)

Activities during the retreat included time with the musicians – Jared, Jared’s brother and drummer Shannon Leto, and guitarist Tomo Miličević – and special performances.

But eyebrows were raised when fans revealed they were also getting matching tattoos of the band’s logo as part of the package, and dressing in all white to match frontman Jared.

More photos showed hundreds of fans – most of them young women – following Jared along beaches and gathering around him for performances on the island.

Other social media users quickly dubbed the photos “creepy” and said Jared looked like “a cult leader”, noting that his bandmates seemed absent from most photos.

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“Why do they all look like they’re worshipping him/following a cult leader?” one penned at the time.

Of course, a few Tweets does not a cult leader make.

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Even though 30 Seconds To Mars have used the phrase “Yes, this is a cult” in marketing materials since 2013, there is no legitimate evidence that Jared or his bandmates are running an actual cult.

In fact, he’s previously said that the phrase is a running joke.

Jared Leto on the Met Gala red carpet in 2018. (Credit: Getty)

“It’s a joke. ‘You have such a cult following’. We have always had incredibly committed people following us,” he said in a 2013 interview with The New York Times.

There has been no evidence that Jared is legitimately running a cult. He has not commented on the claims about Mars Island directly.

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