With his starring role in the comedy-drama 50/50 as well as big parts in the coming features Premium Rush, Looper, The Dark Knight Rises and Django Unchained, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has seemingly come out of nowhere to join the casts of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. You might not realise that the rising star has been mastering his craft for years and his longstanding career is surprising.
Joseph was boring in Los Angeles and started acting at age six. He was once best-known in America for his 1996 role as alien in human disguise Tommy Solomon in the sitcom 3rd Rock From The Sun but has now established himself as a bona fide film star. Poised to become one of Hollywood’s most sought after leading men, Gordon-Levitt is now nabbing roles left, right and centre. Here, we trace the career of one of our favorite young actors.
Though it wasn’t his first role in a film, the high school romantic comedy was easily Gordon-Levitt’s biggest feature at the time. The movie saw him working aside other young guns like Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles as the lovelorn Cameron James, who pays a loner to romance a popular girl’s sister in hopes of getting closer to her. The film (loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew) was a huge commercial success and still enjoys cult popularity, but Gordon-Levitt didn’t receive the immediate breakout success that his fellow cast members found.
It wasn’t until five years after his first feature film role that Gordon-Levitt nabbed another leading part, this time in Gregg Araki’s portrait of two sexually abused boys whose lives spiral out of control. Joseph played Neil McCormack, a young, reckless male prostitute. Clearly nothing like his previous light-hearted roles, Gordon-Levitt’s performance showed the dramatic chops that landed him his next major part.
In what is possibly still his greatest performance, Joseph plays Brendan Frye, a high-school student investigating the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, the neo-noir won several awards including a Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Driven by Gordon-Levitt’s impressive acting, this was by far his biggest role and proved to filmmakers that he could carry a critically-acclaimed movie.
A couple of years ago, Joseph was able to hit his stride in a film that combined his then well-established indie cred with the mainstream appeal he now enjoys. Cast opposite Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer tells the story of idealistic greeting card writer Tom Hansen and his relationship with Summer Finn. Gordon-Levitt’s performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a comedy and the film became a breakout box-office hit. It marked the beginning of Gordon-Levitt’s transition from indie star to money-making staple.
To really illustrate his arrival as a box-office film star, Joseph had a featured part in the questionable Hasbro adaptation. Though the flick got poor reviews, the film was his first big-budget action movie and was an important step in his career. Playing the villainous Cobra Commander, Gordon-Levitt abandoned his realistic, gritty, thought-provoking roles and proved he can deliver in thrill rides as well. Despite the box-office success, Joseph is not in talks to appear in the sequel.
His best-known role to date saw Gordon-Levitt as DiCaprio’s right-hand man in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi action heist. Though he wasn’t the leading man, his performance as Arthur saw an unparalleled combination of critical recognition and box-office success for the young actor. He did most of his own stunts and turned in one of the coolest fight scenes in film history. This role cemented him as a Hollywood star and thanks to Inception, he has begun nabbing leading parts.
Based on the life of screenwriter Will Reiser, Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a young man who is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. With sidekick Seth Rogan in tow, this will mark the biggest leading role of Joseph’s career and has already received acclaimed reviews from critics. Gordon-Levitt has shown his ability to headline indie dramas, comedies, big-budget action films and now the growing block-buster comedy-drama genre.
With his sudden rise to fame, it’s no surprise that Joseph is getting selected for star-studded ensemble casts. Rejoining Inception director Christopher Nolan in his final batman installment, Gordon-Levitt will be acting alongside the likes of Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, and Gary Oldman. He will be playing John Blake, a Gotham street cop who helps Batman take down super villain Bane. This will doubtlessly be another milestone in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s impressive career.