Monday, June 25, 2012

From 3rd Rock from the Sun and Beyond

 Joseph Gordon-Levitt is carving out quite a career for himself.  The former sitcom kid has become a hot property in Hollywood.  Watching re-runs of 3rd Rock from the Sun and seeing that nerdy boy alien with a bad 90s ‘do and watching Gordon-Levitt all grown up in films like The Lookout and (500) Days of Summer makes for an interesting evolution to behold.  He escaped the dreaded Hollywood pigeon-hole of the former child star that befell actors like Danny Bonaduce and Christopher Knight.  He made good choices, didn’t vie for the big flashy blockbusters or the mainstream right away, but instead segued from television into the teen film world with some success – 10 Things I Hate About You was smart and fun – and then he took an artful turn into indiedom.  He became an indie darling, starred in films like Mysterious Skin and Brick, which showed how incredibly he could act.  Now he seems on the brink of movie stardom.  


Like all actors, Gordon-Levitt’s filmography is not without its blemishes.  He went big action, big blockbuster, and big dud in the critically maligned film G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra.   But he followed up that mediocre foray into the world of action films with a real stunner: Inception.  The role was physical.  It involved a great deal of wire work, fighting, jumping and maneuvering.  Injuries would be very likely he was told by the film’s director Christopher Nolan, and he said that was okay; he’d do anything required of him and never once complain.  
That is the kind of reputation Gordon-Levitt has fashioned for himself.  He’s a motivated, dedicated, ambitious, discerning and all-in kind of actor who looks for good projects, aligns himself with respected professionals, delves completely into his roles and makes films better just for having been in them.  He’s developed a great respect for Christopher Nolan and it seems the feeling is mutual, for Nolan tapped Gordon-Levitt to star in his hugely anticipated blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises.   

I think about (500) Days of Summer which is such a special film.  It opens by telling us that it will not be your typical love story and I think that’s why it remains fondly in my movie memory bank.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt  and Zooey Deschanel combine to form an absolutely entrancing onscreen couple and Gordon-Levitt’s Tom is believable, hopeful, poetic and yearning as he reaches out to secure a love that he isn’t sure will last forever.  Tom believes “she’s better than the girl of my dreams” and every expression, gesture and line exhibited or expressed by Gordon-Levitt is a feat of great acting.

Gordon-Levitt has managed to avoid the Hollywood microscope and the paparazzi barrage.  He’s shaken the child actor image, earned great respect in the indie world and has made short films on his own terms and on his own dime.  He’s used a smart, patient and thoughtful approach to his career to reinvent himself as a seriously versatile actor open to any project, big or small, as long as the projects involve working with people making genuine movies and as long as his creativity as an artist inspires others to be creative too.

What are your favourite Joseph Gordon-Levitt films?  Let us know in the comments section.

14 comments:

  1. Child actors from movies have it though, but child actors from TV probably have it harder to progress because their characters are more established throughout the years. I'm glad JGL is getting the recognition he deserves. Favourite film? (500) Days Of Summer.

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    1. I agree with your point about child actors from TV having a harder time. Some have done it with incredible success - Leonardo DiCaprio - and it's nice to see JGL gaining recognition in some blockbuster films, but also remaining devoted to the indie market.

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  2. For me, it's Mysterious Skin. I had grown up watching him over the years from movies like Angels in the Outfield and Holy Matrimony to the TV show 3rd Rock from the Sun. After 10 Things I Hate About You, he kinda left. I lost track until I heard about him being in Mysterious Skin as I'm a fan of Gregg Araki. Then I heard about all of the buzz that was circulating around him from films like Manic and Brick where I watches those 2 films and was in awe. Then Mysterious Skin finally was on TV and I was just in shock of what he's become.

    He's in that shortlist of actors who I want to create projects for as I'm currently working on a script where I have a role written for him in mind though it's a large ensemble piece. I love his dedication and how he is able to diversify himself in films like Inception, The Lookout, and (500) Days of Summer.

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    1. I've never seen 'Manic' but I will seek it out and I've got to give 'Mysterious Skin' a re-watch.

      He's an incredibly diverse actor and it's amazing to see how he's evolved since his time on '3rd Rock.'

      I think he's a great choice for any film since he's proven repeatedly that he can handle just about any role in any genre. Good luck with your projects!

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  3. My favorite is The Dark Knight rises. I'm that sure the movie will be fantastic.

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    1. I'm excited to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt as part of the cast and I'm sure the movie will be amazing. We don't have very long to wait now!

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  4. JGL is one of my favorite actors. I’ve seen damn near all his films and am continually impressed with his maturity and range. With that in mind, my favorite performance of his will (and will surely always be) in Manic, a tiny indie flick about troubled teens in a correctional facility. JGL’s performance, like the movie itself, is so raw and unhinged.. the fact that he was still on 3rd Rock from the Sun when Manic was released is just crazy impressive. Highly recommend that one!

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I will definitely check it out.

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  5. I love him too, mostly after (500)Days of Summer. When I saw him in 10 Things I hate about you, I never thought that he would be this big. But yeah, he's pretty good on picking projects and ambitious as you say. You didn't mention 50/50, but it's a safe movie for him though.

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    1. "(500) Days of Summer" is a real stand-out role for me. I really enjoyed "10 Things I Hate About You" and it's one of those movies that I can re-watch again and again. I think the entire cast of that film was great. It was a good performance by Julia Stiles and, of course, Heath Ledger. JGL was great too.

      I haven't seen "50/50" yet.

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  6. Huge fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt, though I never saw a single episode of 3rd Rock. My favorites would have to be Brick or 50/50.

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    1. The more films I see of his, the more interested I am in seeking out those I haven't seen. He's really impressed me with the diversity of his film roles.

      That's a couple of mentions for "50/50," so I'll have to see that one.

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  7. You mentioned most of the stuff I liked him in. I would rank my favorites of his work as:

    1. Brick
    2. (500) Days of Summer
    3. Inception
    4. 10 Things I Hate About You
    5. The first season of Third Rock from the Sun

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    1. Your top four are great picks. I never really watched 3rd Rock during its run. My husband has been watching a lot of re-runs lately and that's what inspired this post.

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