Jared Leto might soon be considered as one of the best Jokers ever. This, director David Ayer said ahead of the Suicide Squad movie premiere.

According to Comic Book Resources, Ayer did admit that there had been more than one great actor who took on the iconic role before Leto did. But, the filmmaker insisted, his movie’s star managed to hold his own against all of them. “With Jared, it’s interesting because how do you come at that character? It’s like treading on hallowed ground,” the director said.

“It requires a strange combination of both respect and fearlessness… You’re looking at one of the best known villains in western literature. He has to be very respectful and elegantly crafted, because you’re following in the footsteps of giants.”

According to him, Leto was able to stay “very loyal to the canon” while still adding his own “modern twist.” Ayer refused to say just how the actor was able to strike this crucial balance, though. “I don’t want to reveal too much about the magic trick,” he said. But the actor himself earlier revealed just how seriously he took his role in the Suicide Squad movie.

Entertainment Weekly previously reported that Leto had been willing to do everything to prepare. He even sought out criminals and psychopaths to better understand Joker’s psyche. “I knew I had to be committed as much as possible,” the actor explained. “I had to be committed beyond belief. And I did what I needed to do and deliver the best I possibly could… The work that’s been done on this character by so many people before me has been so impactful, so incredible, so much fun… so risky, that it’s a very special thing to be asked to take on that responsibility.”

“Suicide Squad” will hit theaters on August 5.