If you haven’t heard of Joseph Gordon-Levitt by now then you probably live inside of a box… under a rock… on Mars. All kidding aside, even if you’re a fan of nineties sitcoms and remember him as Information Officer Tommy Solomon on “3rd Rock form the Sun” or you are a JGL aficionado and remember him as Young Norman in Robert Redford’s unappreciated saga of fly-fishing brothers in A River Runs Through It, by now, the year 2012, with the thirty-one year-old actor participating in four major films, you certainly know him by now even if you only recognize his unconventionally handsome face.
Getting star-struck is to be expected by now when watching a Christopher Nolan film, and as time goes on and he becomes an even better filmmaker I imagine it will only get worse as everyone will be clamoring to work with him. JGL first worked with him in the mindbender Inception, in which he played second-in-command Arthur to Leonardo DiCaprio’s lead extractor Dom, taking up the role after James Franco dropped out of the role due to scheduling conflicts from, ironically, filming the box-office dud Your Highness. Inception was all pomp and circumstance, but JGL certainly stole the show with his wall-climbing and zero-G fight scenes. In The Dark Knight Rises, he played new character police officer John Blake, made up by Nolan for JGL for the film. For all that the film admittedly lacks and in all the places it lulls into depression and sometimes monotony, JGL, along with fellow supporting cast member Anne Hathaway, is one of the bright centers of the movie, bringing heart and fervor to a role that could have easily been swallowed by apathy and the dark undertones of the film, not to mention looking rather dashing dressed in uniform.
On the other end of the spectrum, Premium Rush was one of those pure-pleasure, candy-colored, summer popcorn action flicks that are meant to be entertaining, not enlightening. In it JGL plays New York City bike messenger Wilee, who is followed incessantly by a crazed rogue cop played by Michael Shannon after picking up an envelope from a customer. Though I’ve been told many times by those I know who are part of real-life cycling culture that the film gets it wrong more than right, it can be universally agreed that the film is fun and exciting, as it was meant to be. If anything it stands as proof that JGL is plenty magnetic an actor to play lead roles.
For those who aren’t total geeks, anybody who knows anything about writer/director Rian Johnson could have made their safest guest about his latest film Looper if, while in the initial stages of production, they had guessed that JGL would be a part of it in some way, shape, or form. Having appeared in Johnson’s other two films, as the lead in 2005’s Brick and a cameo in 2008’s The Brothers Bloom, it was all but assured that he would have a place in the writer/director’s biggest budget film to date. The cinch was though that once Bruce Willis signed on the play the older version of JGL’s character the young actor didn’t physically fit the role anymore. But after layering on the prosthetics and practicing the voice and mannerisms of the seasoned action titan, JGL pulls off young Bruce not only convincingly but with panache as well as a sense of self that makes the role entirely his own. The film overall is a pretty ingenious and unique fabrication of a time-travel story, filled with an off-kilter, weird beauty that makes Johnson’s films, both narratively and visually, such diamond’s of filmmaking. JGL provides the gravity of the film, pulling in all elements prone to straying into his orbit.
JGL’s performance as oldest son Robert Todd to Daniel Day-Lewis’s sixteenth president in the Oscar bait, not-so-Spielberg Spielberg film Lincoln is certainly the most highbrow film the actor has ever made. His role though small is, in my personal opinion, one of the most essential as his big father-son scene with Day-Lewis is undeniably important to the development of the eponymous hero as well as being the most clear cut reminder that the film is indeed a product of one Steven Spielberg. It combines a harrowing moment of witnessing the trademark realistic brutality with the unfailing inclusion of the young-man-searching-for-his-destiny-in-spite-of-his-father theme, not to mention JGL commits a wonderfully subtle performance while also holding his own against the formidable and likely intimidating Daniel Day-Lewis. He certainly has come a long way from playing hottie-in-dork-disguise Cameron James in 10 Things I Hate About You. Having recently completed his writing and directing debut with Don Jon’s Addiction, in which he also stars, it seems as though the world is at his fingertips. Now all he needs is a wife – as such I respectfully submit my candidacy if not for love, looks, or talent then for how well he rocks those slacks in Inception.