EXCLUSIVE - Food stamps, living in a truck with his 'dirt poor, vagabond, hippy single mom': The heartbreak and hardship behind Jared Leto's moving Oscar tribute to his mother
- Jared Leto stole the show with tribute to mother as he won Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers Club
- His dad walked out and until age of eight he lived ‘dirt poor’ existence with brother Shannon and mother Constance
- The family, living in Bossier City, Louisiana, survived on food stamps and at times were so poor they did not have a television
- Opthalmist Carl Leto revealed his life with the family to MailOnline after he met and married Constance when Jared was eight
- They split after having two children together and the brothers moved with their mother to a commune in Colorado
- During his Bohemian childhood, Jared lived in Virginia, Louisiana, Wyoming, Colorado and even spent 18 months in Haiti
It was the most emotional and heartfelt acceptance speech of the Oscars.
Jared Leto, who won the Best Supporting actor award for The Dallas Buyers Club, paid tribute to his mother for encouraging him to believe he could one day become a star.
He said she had pushed him to develop his artistic side and always urged him to 'do something special’.
External imageHippy: Constance cradles Jared in her lap while Shannon looks at the camera. The boys lived in four different states during their childhood, including a commune in Colorado, and then spent 18 months in Haiti
External imageOscar tribute: Jared moved the audience in his acceptance speech by paying tribute to his mother (pictured together here with brother Shannon), a 'high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children’
External imageInseparable: Jared, right, also paid tribute to his 'best friend’ older brother Shannon, left. They have stayed extremely close throughout their lives and started a rock band, 30 Seconds to Mars, together
But standing on the stage at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre soaking up the adoration from his peers couldn’t be further from his 'dirt poor’ start in life.
Up until the age of eight, Leto led a transient lifestyle with his 'vagabond,hippy mum’ Constance and elder brother Shannon.
The boy had been shunted from school to school as the family moved around various states.
During one turbulent period the family even lived in a truck before finding temporary place to stay..
The family, living in Bossier City, Louisiana, survived on food stamps and at times were so poor they did not have a television.
But that poverty-stricken beginning was also the making of Jared.
He has spoken in the past about how they grew up learning to play instruments with a set on bongos ever present around the home.
Dressing up and expressing his artistic side was encouraged by Constance, as photos released by Jared on blogs and social media sites have revealed.
It wasn’t until Constance met Dr Carl Leto in 1979, when Jared turned eight years old, that the youngster would have some stability in his life as the family settled in Virginia.
Not only did Dr Leto give a young Jared his surname after adopting him and his brother Shannon, but he has nurtured his talent and encouraged his artistic abilities.
External imageMoving: Jared was shunted from school to school as the family moved around various states. During one turbulent period the family even lived in a truck before finding a temporary place to stay
External imageCaptivating: Jared won global acclaim for his portrayal of HIV infected transgender woman Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, which led to his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor
External imageTribute: Dr Carl Leto, who Constance met when Jared was eight, told MailOnline that it was obvious from an early age that Jared was artistically talented
'It was obvious from an early age that Jared was artistically talented,’ Mr Leto said in an exclusive interview with MailOnline.
'Whether it was music, art or film-making you could see he was very talented. He was just a very intelligent boy and very dynamic. He loved music and would later love film.’
Dr Leto, an opthalmist from McLean, Virginia, said he was among the millions worldwide watching on Sunday night as he his stepson received the Academy Award for his portrayal of a HIV infected transgender woman in The Dallas Buyers Club.
In Jared’s moving acceptance speech he paid tribute to his mother Constance, telling the star-studded audience how she encouraged him to be creative 'work hard and to do something special’.
He told how she was a high school dropout who got pregnant with her second son when she was aged 19.
He said: 'She was a high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother and she’s here tonight.
'And I just want to say, I love you, Mom. Thank you for teaching me to dream.’
He also spoke of his close bond with Shannon, who he described as his 'best friend’ and has been in a rock band with the actor for years.
Jared never knew his father Anthony Bryant, who split from his mother soon after he was born on December 26, 1971.With no means of support, Constance turned to her parents William Lee and Ruby MetroJon for help..
For the first couple of years of his life Jared lived in Bossier City, a town of just over 60,000 residents on the Red River across from Shreveport in Louisiana.
The family survived on food stamps with photographs from a blog called 'We are children of the great empire’ showing Jared and Shannon’s Bohemian upbringing.
One photo on the Pinterest site shows Constance, dressed in a floral top and trousers cradling Jared in her arms while Shannon stands by her side.
External imageMaking of the man: Jared’s Bohemian upbringing drove his talent and particularly his musical abilities
External imageRich experience: Jared has said: 'I had no concept of the word fame; or a notion of success or money. We grew up very poor, so our world wasn’t anywhere near that kind of stuff’
External imageSplit: Jared and Shannon have had limited contact with their three half-siblings over the years
Jared, now aged 42, has been candid about his humble roots..
While on tour with his rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, he said: 'I’m in an arena in Portugal right now, about to play for 19,000 people. That’s not supposed to happen for a couple of kids from Louisiana on food stamps.’
And talking to the fashion website Mr Porter, he alluded to his hippy upbringing and how fame and fortune seem a distant dream.
'I did grow up in a very creative world,’ he told the website.
'It was the 1970s, the age of the artist and the hippy, and my exposure to that shaped me in a really deep way.
'I was raised among people who made things to make them, and with the idea that if you’re a creative person, then of course you’re going to do something creative with your life - whether you’re an artist, a performance artist, a potter or a photographer.
'I had no concept of the word fame; or a notion of success or money. We grew up very poor, so our world wasn’t anywhere near that kind of stuff. You have to do what is important to you and protect that.’
By the time he reached the age of eight Jared had lived in Louisiana, Wyoming and Virginia. When he was nine years old Carl and Constance had a girl they called Jamie.
External imageFrom Haiti to Hollywood: Jared, pictured with his fellow Oscar winners on Sunday night, spent 18 months in Port-Au-Prince when his mother went there to help out a medical charity
External imageSettled: After Haiti the family settled in Oakton, Virginia where Jared went to Flint Hill school before going on to university
It was at this stage that Carl formally adopted Jared and his brothers and they took his name.
While Constance was pregnant with the second of Carl’s children, Mateo, they heard Jared’s father, Anthony Bryant, had died.
Jared and his brother returned to Bossier City for the funeral but Constance did not attend as she wanted nothing more to do with her ex-husband.
While in Louisiana for the funeral, Jared and Shannon met Anthony’s youngest son, their half-brother, Matthias.
While Dr Leto brought some stability to Jared’s life it did not last long. In 1981 Carl and Constance were divorced.
Dr Leto said he remains estranged from his stepson and has not seen him for a number of years. Jared also has limited contact with his stepbrother and sister.
After two relatively stable years in Virginia the family uprooted and moved to Colorado where they lived in a commune for three years.
Jared was about to enter high school when Constance decided to move her family to the Republic of Haiti. Shannon revealed in an interview that he had persuade his brother to join them after he had a screaming tantrum.
Constance worked for a medical charity and the boys lived in the capital Port Au Prince for 18 months.
Jared has fond memories of his time in Haiti and would return in 2011 after the devastating earthquake killed tens of thousands of people.
Jared said of his time: 'I was fortunate to live in this magical country when I was a kid. Although it was a relatively short period of time, it had a profound impact on my life’.
External imageAt the age of 21 he moved to LA to pursue acting. His role as Jordan Catalano on the short-lived but much popular TV series My So-Called Life with Claire Danes helped launch his career and propel him to pin-up status
On his return from Haiti the family settled back in Virginia and Jared joined the Flint Hill School in Oakton, Virginia.
At the encouragement of his mom, a talented photographer, he continued to learn the guitar while his brothers Shannon perfected his skills on the drums.
The brothers would later form the successful group 30 Seconds to Mars but after leaving high school Jared enrolled at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia to study painting before transferring to the School of Visual Arts in New York.
At the age of 21 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.
His role as Jordan Catalano on the short-lived but much popular TV series My So-Called Life with Claire Danes helped launch his career.
It also made him a pin-up among teenage girls, and when the series was cancelled he switched to films.
Jared’s first big screen role was How to Make an American Quilt (1995) and in 1997 he took over a part once destined for Tom Cruise in the film Prefontaine,the story of legendary runner Steve Prefontaine.
Leto played a home invader in Panic Room with Jodie Foster in 2002 but later gave up acting to tour with his band.
He was tempted back to Hollywood by the part of Rayon, the transsexual who befriends Matthew McConaughey’s character.
His emotive performance gave him a clean sweep at the awards, winning both the Oscar and Golden Globe.