Former My So-Called Life hottie Jared Leto wasn't pleased when his latest film, Requiem For A Dream, was slapped with the dreaded NC-17 rating due to "explicit sexual content." In fact, he says this is proof that the Motion Picture Association of America is completely out of touch with reality.

"The hypocrisy is so crazy," Leto tells TV Guide Online. "You can go see a film where people get shot and killed, and sexuality is what got this film the NC-17 rating?!"

The MPAA was riled up about a scene in which a prostitute is forced by her pimp to engage in a demeaning sex act with another woman in front of a group of men. Instead of deleting the sequence, the film's distributor, Artisan Entertainment, chose instead to release Requiem without a rating. Still, some theater owners reportedly will not allow anyone under the age of 17 to attend — ironic, considering the film's anti-drug message is aimed squarely at that demo. "Someone brought a younger person to see the film who was having a problem with drugs," notes Leto, who plays an addict, "and it scared the hell out of them."

Making the film — directed by Darren Aronofsky, who will helm the next Batman flick — was no walk on the beach, either. "It was the most miserable and rewarding thing I've ever done," says Leto of the role that required him to lose 24 pounds. "You can't lose that amount of weight and not have some kind of experience. There were days on the set when I was in ecstasy and had a surge of emotion, but most of the time I was f---ing miserable. I would hesitate before I [would do] anything like that to myself again. I was getting really sick. There's not really a healthy way to lose weight, especially if you're a skinny guy, but I wanted to do anything I could to do a good job."

Leto was so intent on doing the role justice that he hung out with junkies in New York City's East Village. "I basically went out and lived on the streets," he explains. "Every night is an adventure out there... [some addicts] will miss veins and their arm swells up because of the poison in their skin; people overdosing in the street and going into comas."

Although Requiem For A Dream, opening nationwide on Oct. 20, explores drug addiction, Leto says the film's message is a universal one. "To me it's the choice of what your escape is," he says. "Whether it's work or sex or food or the internet. Everybody's got something. It's some weird thing about human beings."