Once associated primarily with granola and Birkenstocks, tree hugging now has a growing fan base in the quirky corners of the Internet.
It’s yet another thing for which humanity should thank Jared Leto. (The actor and musician is also to be commended for his Academy Award-winning portrayal of trans-woman Rayon in last year’s Dallas Buyers Club, as well as his strikingly long eyelashes.)
Last night, the Requiem for a Dream-star posted a picture of himself encircling a tree in the forest with both arms and his left leg on Instagram. The image quickly became the inspiration for the #JaredHugginLeto (aka #HuggyJ) Internet meme.
Leto has since added a fan’s Photoshopped version, which shows him hugging almost everything in sight: the same tree twice, three other trees, the neck of a dog and even that dog’s hind leg.
But the hilarious photo manipulating didn’t stick with a forest theme. Fans around the world plastered the smiling star onto all sorts of things like a vegan stack of pancakes, international landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower), and Leonardo Di Caprio.
Leto isn’t the first actor to be honoured by an internet meme. Steve Buscemi and his distinctive eyes inspired the popular practice of photo-swapping out a woman’s eyes for those of the Boardwalk Empire-actor, a dejected Keanu Reeves is the foundation for the Sad Keanu meme, and future father Ryan Gosling’s face is vital to the Hey Girl phenomenon.
Neither Buscemi nor Gosling seem enamoured with their Internet memes, but Leto is delighted with the joke, succinctly captioning the multi-tree hugger image “Bwwwwaaaahaaaahaaaaaaaaaa!” and cajoling fans to send him more pictures.
Leto is perhaps most famous for playing drug-addicted, HIV-positive Rayon, the role for which he snagged an Oscar for best supporting actor in Dallas Buyers Club - but the film was actually Leto’s first in five years.
The actor has been in 11 other films since the new millennium, choosing to split his time between acting, directing and starring in the documentary Artifact, and singing in his alternative rock band Thirty Seconds To Mars.
The lead singer is currentlyin Europe on tour with the band, which includes his older brother and drummer, Shannon, and guitarist Tomo Miličević. (A few weeks before the tour began, Leto’s brother, Shannon, was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, reports TMZ, but the tour went on as planned.) The band’s fourth and most successful album, Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams, was released in 2013.
Tonight the band plays in Russia. Maybe images of Leto hugging Saint Basil’s Cathedral will surface soon.