Jared Leto may not have signed on until December 2020 to play Adam Neumann, the Israeli-born entrepreneur who co-founded WeWork, the American co-working space startup that’s seen a rise and rise. controversial calculations, but the Oscar-winning actor had been unwittingly preparing for his role in the Apple TV+ series We crashed for many years.
The Hollywood star, whose film roles include fight club, Requiem for a Dream, Dallas Buyers Club, suicide squad and Gucci House, has long enjoyed competing careers. The most important is popular music, with its rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, but there is also technological investment. Over the past decade, Leto has made dozens of startup investments, hitting Silicon Valley oil with Uber, Airbnb and Nest, which Google acquired in 2014.
Leto was moving between the nexus between start-ups, venture capital and Wall Street, where ideas are valued and the goal is to be involved in a “unicorn” – a private company worth more than $100,000. billion dollars that can be launched publicly with a profitable stock offering. He couldn’t help but notice WeWork, which the charismatic and extremely confident Neumann co-founded in New York in 2010 and quickly grew from a single building in Soho.
“I had heard of Adam,” Leto said. “I always wondered, if I had met him early enough, would I have been obliged – or seduced – to invest? I remember at one point I heard about the company and asked some very smart investor friends about it and the opinion was that the [cash] burn rate was a bit high, and to be careful. I heard that and had the information I needed at that time.
Neumann is at the center of We crashed, an eight-part recreation of WeWork’s meteoric growth. In 2018, the company, led by the messianic dynamic of Neumann, had more than four million square meters of leased office space worldwide and claimed a valuation of $65 billion. The only thing that could match those numbers was the hubris of Neumann and his wife Rebekah, played in the show by Leto’s Oscar-winning Anne Hathaway. The excess of the couple was grandiose, their talks imperial.
“I know a guy who runs one of the biggest companies in the world and I’ve watched him grow it from practically nothing to going public,” says Leto. “I spoke to him and he had met Adam and he said Adam was one of the most convincing and confident people he had ever sat with in his entire life when they had a meeting. He was blown away by the guy. He was a unique person and it was a pleasure to dive into this complexity.
The Neumanns stalled in 2019, when WeWork’s investment-fueled growth came up against fiduciary responsibilities and the scrutiny of trade media to take the company public. The spreadsheets didn’t match, Neumann had to step down as CEO, and the company then floated at a much lower valuation, though Neumann walked away with a handy 10-figure sum. But behind these numbers in We crashed is the drama of creating something out of next to nothing, the evangelistic zeal, the risk-taking, and the reliance on using mere words to bend the will of others to your own.
“It’s almost like an action movie and the words are the action. Adam’s words were so powerful to him. At the end of each day, I felt like I was going to crumble, because it was such an onslaught,” Leto says. “Of course when he gave a speech he did it once, but when you’re filming you can say it 100 times. He spoke with such conviction and so physically – it was unbelievably difficult. Sometimes, I was in physical pain, but I loved it. I thought it was a great experience.