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#223. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

While this blog has covered the careers of many child actors, very few have started as young as Joseph Gordon-Levitt. What is interesting to note here is that his career took the somewhat traditional path to stardom, especially when one considers child actors. Starting at the age of four, from roles in a musical theater group to television commercials, Gordon-Levitt eventually made his way into regular television in the form of TV shows and made-for-TV movies. Soon, he was cast in main roles in films like Angels in the Outfield (1994). Almost ten years since he started his acting career, Joseph Gordon-Levitt hit it big with a lead role in the comedic sitcom, 3rd Rock from the Sun. Most people have known him from his role on this show, but after his brief stint studying acting in the early 2000’s he has come into mainstream film roles to critical acclaim. This week’s two films show the range of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s acting skills.

LooperLooper
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours

Since much of Gordon-Levitt’s early career was in the comedy genre, many were skeptical of his skills in more serious and action-based roles. While he did portray Cobra Commander in the 2009 film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, much of his action film experience would come a year later in the Christopher Nolan masterpiece, Inception (2010). Now that he had his foot in the door, Nolan cast Gordon-Levitt in the finale of the Dark Knight saga, The Dark Knight Rises (2012), as a young policeman by the name of John Blake whose legal name is Robin. Of course, this wasn’t the only role that he filled in 2012. He also had a bit part in Lincoln, starred in the bicycling-themed Premium Rush, and had the lead role in the sci-fi adventure Looper. Since then, other big name directors have cast him in serious films like Snowden (2015) by Oliver Stone and The Walk (2015) by Robert Zemeckis.

Thirty years before the invention of time travel, a group of hitmen known as “loopers” are used to kill targets who were sent to them from the future. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is just one of them, hoarding half of the silver bars he receives as payment. When he kills a target who has gold bars, he knows that his loop has been “closed”, and that he has just killed his future self. With this big payout, he moves to China, indulging in the drugs and parties to which he has become accustomed. Eventually, he finds himself back in the killing game, working as a hitman again. When his loop is set to be closed, his wife is killed in the process, leading him to be sent back in time unbound and unmasked. This creates an alternate timeline where the original Joe (Bruce Willis) is on a mission to kill the gang boss who wanted him dead thirty years in the future. Meanwhile, young Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is the only one who can stop him.

(500) Days of Summer(500) Days of Summer
Year: 2009
Rating: PG-13
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

As I mentioned before, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is no stranger to comedies. And while his early career was in more of a sitcom and family-friendly vein, his later work deals with relationships in a more serious context. One of his last films before going off to college was that of the Shakespearean modern interpretation that is 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). Afterwards, there were other comedies that touched on a variety of serious subjects, such as 50/50 (2011) wherein Gordon-Levitt portrays a very young cancer patient, just trying to feel normal and loved. There was also Don Jon (2013), his directorial debut, which addressed the very serious problem of pornography in modern society. Of course, perhaps his best romantic comedy was that of (500) Days of Summer, not only for its fun tone, but the reality that not every relationship works out in the end.

While the season of summer only lasts just over 90 days, the time that Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) spent connected with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) numbered 500 days. Tom met Summer through his job at a greeting card company where he writes the interiors to a variety of cards. Summer was the assistant to Tom’s boss, and the two eventually start dating. The film moves back and forth between the 500 days, showing that there were definite highs, where Tom was at his creative best at work, as well as devastating lows which led to him quitting his job. About 2/3 of the way through the 500 days, the two break up, and Tom eventually has to come to terms that she has moved on, as she eventually invites him to her engagement party. Finally pursuing his dream of using his architectural training, Tom has reached the end of the 500 days just as he meets a nice young woman named “Autumn”.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 gems from Gordon-Levitt

Bacon #: 2 (The Juror / Alec Baldwin -> She’s Having a Baby / Kevin Bacon)

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One response to “#223. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

  1. Pingback: End of Act Five | Cinema Connections

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