By Rollo Ross
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It was a mad dash of "planes, trains and automobiles" for Oscar-winning actor and Thirty Seconds to Mars singer Jared Leto as he promoted his band's latest album with a five-day cross-country road trip from New York to Los Angeles.
Leto hitchhiked in the cold rain and rode a crowded long-haul Greyhound bus as he promoted his rock band's fifth studio album, "America," which was released last week on Interscope Records, a label of Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group.
Leto, 46, did it all while performing his songs. He also documented the nearly 2,800-mile (4,500 km) trek and said he used it to connect with everyday Americans along the way.
"I don't ever use that dirty word for myself - celebrity - but it was very grounding," Leto told Reuters. "And I think it just reminds you that we're all connected, that we all have our challenges, that we all have our dreams."
Leto said his journey taught him that despite the current political polarization of the United States, he found a sense of shared purpose among Americans.
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"I think the most eye-opening thing right now, that at a time of such instability that there's so much community, so much we have in common, such unity," he said. "I think that would surprise people, especially if you live outside the country."
Leto added, "I saw a lot of kindness, a lot of generosity. It was inspiring."
The actor, who won an Oscar for his role as an HIV-positive transgender woman in 2013 drama "Dallas Buyers Club," is also directing a documentary, "A Day in the Life of America," in which he explores the lives of different Americans on U.S. Independence Day, July 4, 2017.
It was not Leto's first trip across the United States.
"I had done it when I was a kid as an art school dropout and I headed to L.A. to become a director," said Leto, who caught his first big break in Hollywood on the mid-1990s cult teen TV drama "My So-Called Life" as a moody high school heartthrob.
"I had a backpack on and a couple of hundred bucks and it changed my life, so it was fun to go back and take that journey again," he said.
(Reporting by Rollo Ross; Writing by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Leslie Adler)