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Joseph Gordon Levitt –


Levitt in SNOWDEN.

About Joseph Gordon Levitt (1981 – )

Gordon-Levitt was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in Sherman Oaks. He is Jewish, and his parents were among the founders of the Progressive Jewish Alliance. His father, Dennis Levitt, was once the news director for KPFK-FM. His mother, Jane Gordon, ran for the U.S. Congress in California during the 1970s for the Peace and Freedom Party. 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 comedy Pillow Talk.

Gordon-Levitt joined a musical theater group at the ripe young age of four and played the Scarecrow in a production of The Wizard of Oz. He was later approached by an agent and started appearing on TV commercials for such products as Sunny Jim peanut butter, Cocoa Puffs, Pop-Tarts, and Kinney Shoes.

At age six, he starred in several made-for-television films. He played both David Collins and Daniel Collins in the Dark Shadows TV series, and appeared in the movie A River Runs Through It. In 1992–93, he appeared in The Powers That Be, a sitcom starring John Forsythe, where he played a clever young boy named Pierce Van Horne. That same year, he portrayed Gregory Kingsley in the made-for-TV film Switching Parents. In 1994, he starred 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, which ran for six seasons. The San Francisco Chronicle observed that he was a "Jewish kid playing an extraterrestrial pretending to be a Jewish kid". Gordon-Levitt attended Van Nuys High School while acting on the show and graduated with honors in 1999.

Gordon-Levitt starred in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, and voiced Jim Hawkins in Treasure Planet (2002), a Disney adaptation of Treasure Island. In 2000, he began attending Columbia University School of General Studies, where he studied history, literature, and French poetry. He dropped out in 2004 to concentrate on acting again.

Gordon-Levitt has said he made a conscious decision to "be in good movies" after returning to acting. His films include 2001's drama Manic, which was set in a mental institution, Mysterious Skin (2004), in which he played a gay prostitute and child sexual abuse victim, and Brick (2005), a modern-day film noir set at a high school, where he had the lead role of Brendan Frye, a teen who becomes involved in a drug ring while investigating a murder. He also starred opposite Steve Sandvoss as a young missionary in Latter Days (2003), a film that depicts a sexually repressed Mormon missionary (Sandvoss) who falls for his gay neighbor.

His next role came in 2007's The Lookout, playing Chris Pratt, a janitor involved in a bank heist. In 2008 and 2009 his films included Stop-Loss, directed by Kimberly Peirce, which focused on American soldiers returning from the Iraq War, and Killshot, in which he portrayed a hoodlum in league with a hired killer played by Mickey Rourke.

Gordon-Levitt played a lead role opposite friend Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer, a well-regarded 2009 release that examines a troubled relationship in great detail. Variety'​s Todd McCarthy praised his performance, writing that Gordon-Levitt "expressively alternates between enthusiasm and forlorn disappointment in the manner Jack Lemmon could".

From there he moved on to play villain Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and then hosted Saturday Night Live. In 2010 he replaced James Franco to star opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Christopher Nolan's complex and cerebral sci-fi thriller Inception.

In 2011, Gordon-Levitt played policeman John Blake in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. In 2012 he starred as a bicycle messenger in the action film Premium Rush; the younger version of the lead role, with Bruce Willis, in the highly-regarded time-travel tale Looper; and the supporting role of Robert Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln.

Gordon-Levitt played a new character, Johnny, in the sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014), described by filmmakers as "a cocky gambler who disguises a darker mission to destroy his most foul enemy at his best game".

In 2015, Gordon-Levitt played NSA surveillance leaker Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone's eponymous film, which co-stars Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson and Nicolas Cage. Also in 2015, Gordon-Levitt starred as the famed tightrope walker Philippe Petit in the biographical drama The Walk, directed by Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis.

Joseph Gordon Levitt's notable movie credits include...

A River Runs Through It
Holy Matrimony
Angels in the Outfield
The Juror
Sweet Jane
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
10 Things I Hate About You
Picking Up the Pieces
Forever Lulu
Treasure Planet
Latter Days
Mysterious Skin
Miracle at St. Anna
The Brothers Bloom
Big Breaks
(500) Days of Summer
Women in Trouble
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Morgan M. Morgansen's Date with Destiny
Elektra Luxx
Morgan and Destiny's Eleventeenth Date
The Dark Knight Rises
Premium Rush
Don Jon
The Wind Rises
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
The Interview
The Walk
The Night Before

Joseph Gordon Levitt's television credits include...

Stranger on My Land
Family Ties
Settle the Score
Murder, She Wrote
Hi Honey – I'm Dead
Dark Shadows
China Beach
Quantum Leap
L.A. Law
The Powers That Be
Gregory K
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
The Great Elephant Escape
3rd Rock from the Sun
That '70s Show
The Outer Limits
Saturday Night Live
Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular
HitRecord on TV
Comedy Bang! Bang!
The Mindy Project
Levitt as Young Norman in "A River Runs Through It" (1992).
Levitt in this iconic and mind-bending image from "Inception" (2010).
Levitt in "Killshot" (2009).
As Robert Todd Lincoln in "Lincoln" (2012).
Joseph Gordon Levitt in "Looper" (2012).
Levitt in "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012).
Levitt as Philippe Petit in "The Walk" (2015).

Memorable Quotes

“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.”

“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 "Rollinga" and then they say "Speed" and then they say "Marker" 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 six 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.”

Did You Know

Joseph had an older brother, Dan Gordon-Levitt, who passed away in October of 2010. He was a photographer and a world-renowned fire spinner.

Enjoys playing the drums and the guitar.

Levitt speaks French and is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.