Women in Trouble (2009)
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
The Lookout (2007)
Mysterious Skin (2005)
Date of Birth
17 February 1981, Los Angeles, California, USA
Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt
5' 10" (1.78 m)
Despite his young age, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has already distinguished himself as an actor with a wide range of performances in both television and film. He starred on the hit television series "3rd Rock from the Sun" (1996), for which he earned two Hollywood Reporter Young Star Awards and the show earned three SAG Award nominations for "Outstanding Peformance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series". Prior to his success on television, he was already working steadily in feature films, debuting in the Robert Redford film A River Runs Through It (1992), for which he received the Young Artist Award for "Best Actor Under Ten". Other film credits include Angels in the Outfield (1994), The Juror (1996), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) and one of the lead voices in the animated film, Treasure Planet (2002).
Gordon-Levitt recently took time off from acting to attend Columbia University. His most recent film credits include the 2001 Sundance film Manic (2001), where he plays an angry young man sent to a juvenile mental institute. He returned to Sundance this year with two diametrically opposed lead roles in Rian Johnson's Brick (2005) and Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin (2004). Brick (2005), earned a Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision. Having screened at the Venice, Toronto and London Film Festivals, Mysterious Skin (2004) has already earned him accolades for his portrayal of a gay hustler haunted by his sexually abused past.
Gordon-Levitt, who resides in both New York and Los Angeles, will next appear in Barbara Kopple's Havoc (2005) as well as Shadowboxer (2005) opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's remarkable transition from child to adult actor deserves kudos, and then deserves to be let go. (Yes, he was participating in a children's musical group at age 6, when another child's manager suggested he should try doing it professionally). After several years of smaller television roles, he did his first feature at age 10 (A River Runs Through It (1992)). TV series-regular roles ("Dark Shadows" (1991), "The Powers That Be" (1992), "3rd Rock from the Sun" (1996)) limited his availability for film during teen years, and college followed at the end of "3rd Rock".
Following (and a little bit during) that academic hiatus, he has successfully shaken off the child-actor image by moving on to intense script and role choices that have been both eclectic and provocative. His path has been guided much more by the quality of the material and the integrity of the creative people involved, rather than pursuit of fame or fortune.
Attended Columbia University 
Chosen as one of Teen People Magazine's "21 Hottest Stars Under 21" 
Plays the guitar.
Auditioned for the role of "Elder Aaron Davis" in Latter Days (2003) before winning the role of "Elder Paul Ryder."
His maternal grandfather was Michael Gordon, who directed such films as Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) and Pillow Talk (1959). Gordon's career was crippled when he was blacklisted during the Red Scare of the mid-Twentieth Century.
Attended, but did not graduate from, Columbia University in New York, where he studied French. Columbia was the only school to which he applied.
His parents are Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt, who met as activists in California. Gordon ran for Congress in 1970.
Among his favorite actors are Gena Rowlands and Warren Oates.
Appeared in a preschool production of "Wizard of Oz".
Among his favorite movies are Dumbo (1941) and Vérités et mensonges (1973).
Grandson of Michael Gordon.
Is good friends with his Mysterious Skin (2004) co-star, 'Michelle Trachtenberg'.
Was ranked #6 on Entertainment Weekly's '30 Under 30' the actors list. (2008).
Has an older brother, Daniel Levitt (1974).
Gordon-Levitt was nominated for a 2009 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event with his fellow producers of the Broadway show "Slava's Snowshow.".
His favorite movie is Vérités et mensonges (1973).
The whole concept of celebrity pisses me off. While I'm not a celebrity, it's such a weird concept that society has cooked up for us. Astronauts and teachers are much more amazing than actors.
Most scripts are bad. I read a lot of them. Brick (2005) was a good script just to read. It was like, "Oh my God, these words feel so good in my mouth". A lot of movies try to set up a world with cool sets, costumes, camera work. In Brick (2005), the world is born from the words.
To me, a sex scene in a movie generally means a gratuitous scene that doesn't serve the story but gives a kind of excuse; we've got these two actors, we want to see them naked, so let's bring in the music and the soft light.
Actors didn't use to be celebrities. A hundred years ago, they put the theaters next to the brothels. Actors were poor. Celebrities used to be kings and queens. Then the United States abolished monarchy, and now there's this coming together of show business and celebrity. I don't think it's healthy. I don't want to sound self-important, but all these celebrity shows and magazines - it comes from us, from Hollywood, from our country. We're the ones creating it. And I think it works in close step with a lot of other bad things that are happening in the world. It promotes greed, it promotes being selfish and it promotes this ladder, where you're a better person if you have more money. It's not at all about the work itself. Don't get me wrong. I love movies. But this myth of celebrity has nothing to do with movies.
At the heart of the movie, to me, is there's these two characters that can have one horrible, traumatic experience but react to it in opposite ways and it shows how different people see things differently. Well, today, there's a president in my country that doesn't understand that and he thinks that if you don't see it exactly his way, you're wrong and evil. And that's not the way the world works. There can be one event but everybody who sees it sees it a little different or sees it a lot different and that's what the movies about and that's what damn "Dubya" needs to understand. Or let him not understand it and go about his ways and go back to his ranch and never bother us again. (about Mysterious Skin (2004)).
"My dad never blew anything up, but he probably had friends who did. He and my mom have always preached that the pen is mightier than a Molotov cocktail." [on his parents' activist youths.]
I don't blame the people for the fact that so many movies are bad. I think there's a corrupt, perverted, lazy and sloppy attitude that's pervasive in the movie business. The whole entertainment business is kind of crumbling around us.
Success is not important to me, nor are power or money. If the script feels good, then I'm in. It's that simple.
My advantage is that I know the system. Big budgets don't impress me. They might've done when I was 13, but I've been working since I was 6.
One of the hardest things about playing a soldier is kinda acknowledging that I've never done, and might never do anything that brave.
The Lookout (2007) was by far the hardest thing I've ever done. Partially because both Brick (2005) and Mysterious Skin (2004) were four to five week shoots, and The Lookout (2007) was nine or 10. So there's the marathon aspect, as well as the fact that Chris Pratt is having a harder go of it than either of the other two characters ever did. You know, waking up in the morning is difficult for him. Putting a sentence together is difficult for him. Getting dressed properly, driving a car, all these things. He can do them fine, but it's just much harder than it is for a normal person, so I had to try to make it hard for myself somehow. So it was challenging.
(About the violence in Mysterious Skin (2004)): All that violence is there to tell a story that comes from an honest and genuine place, and that's what's important.
I've played the smart kid, the funny one, the nice sweet one, even the angry one, but never the sexy one.
It's a very ritualized practice: First they say 'rolling' and then they say 'speed' and then they say 'marker,' and they clap the marker, then the camera says 'set,' then the director says 'action.' I've heard that sequence of words ever since I was 6 years old. It's powerful. I need that.
That's what life is: repetitive routines. It's a matter of finding the balance between deviating from those patterns and knowing when to repeat them.
The traditional Hollywood sentiment is contempt for the audience. I've heard executives say, 'Audiences are stupid, kids are stupid,' but that's not going to fly anymore. I think Obama is great evidence of that. This is maybe a sort of pretentious parallel to draw, but it's the same with how love stories are told in movies. 500 Days of Summer wouldn't have made sense in our parents' generation. It reminds me so much of 2009.
Most love stories that are told in Hollywood are just bullshit, and everyone knows it. You go there expecting to be sold a bill of goods that you know is wrong. And sometimes you go anyway, like if a girl drags you or something...
I've had a select set of really beautiful, powerful, psychedelic experiences on certain drugs but I never got into just doing it at a party: 'Oh let's get f-ed up and drop acid'. That's so retarded and disrespectful to your body and the drug itself. Mushrooms, acid and ecstasy can offer you a new perspective. They can also offer you nothing.
... I just feel really lucky to get to do what I do and I love it. I love acting, I love making movies and that's why I do it. This is a job which I try to get involved with as much as I can. The movies I watch are being made by film lovers. That's the thing about "Uncertainty." All that "Uncertainty" has going for it is the film itself. We don't have an advertisement budget or something; it's really just made by people who love movies for people who love movies. ... I'm happy to get to talk to someone like you who obviously really loves movies for the movies themselves because some of the other ways that tend to putting audiences into a movie have less to do with an actual movie and more to do with all sort of other marketing.
... I take that as a big compliment for you to say that that you thought of me as an indie guy just because it took a long time to get anybody to think of me that way 'cause I was on a TV show for so long. (Laughs) But yeah, I mean, to me, I don't really make such a distinction based on indie or studio or any of that. What's important to me is the work itself, the script, the other people I'm collaborating, and I think that kind of could happen to me in the big studio world and it could happen in the indie world. I got just done working for Chris Nolan which was a real honor. He brings as much artistic integrity to what he's doing as anybody and he's making these enormous, enormous studio movies. Then there's "Uncertainty" where they bring the same artistic integrity to it. There's the other way on both sides. There's plenty of low budget indie movies that are kinda doing it for the wrong reasons just like there's some great, huge studio movies.
Hesher is easily one of the most fun parts I've ever gotten to play, because he is really liberated from a lot of the anxieties and stresses that we all carry around. So to play the part right, I have to do that, and it was liberating.
... I'm lucky enough, I made money on television when I was young, so I don't have to do parts to support myself. I just do stuff because it'll be fun and challenge me.
My favorite kinds of actors are the chameleons, like Daniel Day-Lewis or Peter Sellers, people like that. To me, the highest compliment you can pay to an actor is, "Man, I didn't recognize you". So yeah, "Hesher" is really different from "Tom" in (500) Days of Summer (2009)" and you know, that's what keeps it spicy for me.
I just love to act. It's my favorite thing to do in the world, and what keeps it interesting to me is the creative challenge. So different kinds of characters, that's what I just love to do.
Acting's really difficult to talk about. If you could talk about it so easily then you wouldn't have to act.
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