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Jared Leto’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’ character was partly inspired by real techies

But Leto won’t cop to who, exactly, he was mimicking.

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Jared Leto plays trillionaire Niander Wallace in “Blade Runner 2049” “Blade Runner 2049” / Warner Bros. Pictures

Editor’s note: The podcast embedded below discusses the themes and story of "Blade Runner 2049," including the fate of some of the major characters. The quoted highlights, however, do not.

Recode’s Kara Swisher and “Blade Runner 2049” actor Jared Leto Adam Tow / Recode

Before the action starts in the new film “Blade Runner 2049,” we’re informed that production of the humanlike androids from the first “Blade Runner,” known as Replicants, was outlawed and then rebooted between the two movies. The person responsible for the reboot is also one of the film’s antagonists — Niander Wallace, played by Jared Leto.

“I was in L.A. at the screening and went to the party afterwards,” Leto said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “And people were just giving me this look. Usually it’s like, ‘Ahh, good job!’ It was like, ‘I don’t want to talk to that guy.’ I didn’t kill any real people, did I?”

At the time of the interview’s recording, following a screening of the film at the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco, Leto acknowledged he had not yet seen the full movie.

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Leto — who’s also a the frontman of the band 30 Seconds to Mars and a prolific tech investor — hinted that he drew inspiration for Wallace from some real people.

“This is a guy who saved the world from starvation and has a very clear idea of what it’s going to take in order for civilization to continue,” he said. “I do have some friends in the tech world that I may or may not have based certain aspects of this character on.”

However, he refused to say exactly who he had in mind. If you’d like to speculate wildly, feel free to consult Leto’s past investments, which include Reddit, Houseparty and Zenefits.

He also pushed back on the idea that tech in particular is responsible for societal problems, arguing that “the entire fucking world is dark.” He predicted that, much like the Industrial Revolution, the world will emerge on the other side of the tech boom with more jobs and prosperity, not less.

“We’re all obsessed with being productive, and we find new ways to dream,” Leto said. “In order to accomplish those dreams, it takes the efforts of so many of us. I don’t necessarily think that just because we’re driving and we’re not on horseback that there are less jobs now. The Industrial Revolution didn’t lead to less jobs, it led to more jobs, so I think that probably will continue for some time. But I’m just an artist, what do I know?”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts— and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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