- Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt
February 17, 1981 (age 39)
- Actor, Film Director, Theatrical producer, Screenwriter, Film Producer, Entrepreneur, Film Editor
- Dennis Levitt, Jane Gordon
Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt (born February 17, 1981) is an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and editor. As a child star, he appeared in the films A River Runs Through It, Angels in the Outfield, and 10 Things I Hate About You, and as Tommy Solomon in the TV series 3rd Rock from the Sun.
He took a break from acting to study at Columbia University, but dropped out in 2004 to pursue acting again. He has since starred in (500) Days of Summer, Inception, Hesher, 50/50, Premium Rush, The Dark Knight Rises, Brick, Looper, The Lookout, Manic, Lincoln, Mysterious Skin, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He also founded the online production company hitRECord in 2004 and has hosted his own TV series, HitRecord on TV, since January 2014.
In 2013, Gordon-Levitt made his feature film directing and screenwriting debut with Don Jon, a comedy film in which he also stars. He previously directed and edited two short films, both of which were released in 2010: Morgan M. Morgansen's Date with Destiny and Morgan and Destiny's Eleventeenth Date: The Zeppelin Zoo.
Gordon-Levitt was born in Los Angeles, California, and was raised in its Sherman Oaks neighborhood. He is Jewish, from a family that is "not strictly religious"; his parents were among the founders of the Progressive Jewish Alliance. His father, Dennis Levitt, was once the news director for the Pacifica Radio station, KPFK-FM. His mother, Jane Gordon, ran for the United States Congress in California during the 1970s for the Peace and Freedom Party; she met Dennis Levitt while she was working as the program guide editor for KPFK-FM. Gordon-Levitt's maternal grandfather, Michael Gordon, was a Hollywood film director between the 1940s and 1970s and directed the 1959 Doris Day/Rock Hudson film Pillow Talk.
Gordon-Levitt joined a musical theater group at the age of four and played the Scarecrow in a production of The Wizard of Oz. Subsequently, he was approached by an agent and began appearing on television and in commercials for Sunny Jim peanut butter, Cocoa Puffs, Pop-Tarts, and Kinney Shoes.
At age six, he starred in several made-for-television films. In 1991, he played both David Collins and Daniel Collins in the Dark Shadows television series. During 1992–93, he played in The Powers That Be, a sitcom starring John Forsythe, as a clever young boy named Pierce Van Horne. Also in 1992, he portrayed Gregory Kingsley in the made-for-TV film Switching Parents, based on Kingsley's real life case of "divorcing" his parents. In 1994 he appeared in the Disney film Angels in the Outfield as an orphan who sees angels. In 1996 he began playing Tommy Solomon on the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. The series ran for six seasons. The San Francisco Chronicle noted that Gordon-Levitt was a "Jewish kid playing an extra terrestrial pretending to be a Jewish kid". Gordon-Levitt was attending Van Nuys High School while acting on the show and graduated with honors in 1999. During the 1990s, he was frequently featured in teenage magazines, something he resented. He has also said that during this time period, he did not enjoy being recognized in public, saying that he "hates celebrity".
Gordon-Levitt starred in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, a modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, and voiced Jim Hawkins in Treasure Planet (2002), a Disney adaptation of the novel Treasure Island. In 2000, he began attending Columbia University School of General Studies. He studied history, literature, and French poetry. He became an avid Francophile and a French speaker. He said that moving to New York City from his hometown forced him to grow as a person. He dropped out in 2004 to concentrate on acting again.
(500) Days of Summer
Gordon-Levitt played a lead role opposite to friend Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer, a well-received 2009 release about the deconstruction of a relationship. His performance, described as "the real key" to what makes the film work, credits him with using "his usual spell in subtle gradations." Variety 's Todd McCarthy praised his performance, saying he "expressively alternates between enthusiasm and forlorn disappointment in the manner Jack Lemmon could". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said the movie "hits you like a blast of pure romantic oxygen" and credited both lead actors for playing "it for real, with a grasp of subtlety and feeling that goes beyond the call of breezy duty." He was subsequently nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
Gordon-Levitt's older brother, Dan, who was a photographer and fire spinner, died in 2010 at age 36.
In October 2013, Gordon-Levitt identified himself as a feminist, giving credit to his mother: "My mom brought me up to be a feminist. She was active in the movement in the '60s and '70s. The Hollywood movie industry has come a long way since its past. It certainly has a bad history of sexism, but it ain't all the way yet."
Gordon-Levitt explained his understanding of the concept of "true love" in a November 2013 promotional interview for Don Jon:
Well those two words can mean a lot of different things. You mean, the Princess Bride version of true love? Do you mean the Sleepless in Seattle version of true love? Um, I would say true love means a genuine and unique connection between two unique individuals. What I think true love is not, is some shiny trophy that's the same "riding off into the sunset" image that you can get. I don't think ... if you think about true love as something that you're after, that you can have, um, you're missing it.