Joseph Gordon-Levitt, everyone's favorite Ivy-League dropout, turns 35 this month. For such a young age, JGL has an impressive number of accomplishments under his belt. He began acting at the age of four when he joined a local musical theater group. This led to an agent which led to commercials which led to made-for-television movies which led to films. By the age of ten, he had appeared in 11 different TV spots.
After being in the industry for nearly two decades, JGL quit acting to attend Colombia University where he studied history, literature, and French poetry. But in another surprise move, he dropped out to pursue his acting career once again, this time vowing to only commit to films and projects that he was personally passionate about.
That same year, JGL founded hitRECord, a production company that combined different medias to produce short-films, books, and records. In 2010, the online collaboration site opened up to the public allowing any artist to collectively work on a number of projects. Any profit that hitRECord made from finished projects was then split 50/50 with all contributors.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has become the unspoken spokesman for any artist (actor, painter, writer, musician) who has a dream and the will to create it.
In celebration of this talented man's birthday, here are ten of his most memorable roles.
1. (500) Days of Summer
(500) Days of Summer wanted to make something very clear... This was a story about love, not a love story. With this charming take on modern relationships and love, your heart broke alongside Tom's (Levitt) as you watched him desperately try to win the affection of Summer (Zooey Deschanel). This sadly truthful movie hit close to home with many hopeless romantics who have had their souls crushed, but left a hopeful ending that life goes on. And if JGL dancing and singing with animated birds to Huey Lewis and the News isn't something you enjoy, then I'm afraid we have bigger problems than lost love.
Rian Johnson's debut film starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan, an introverted, smart kid, who goes in search of his missing ex-girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin). This was one of the first films he dove into after he dropped out of Colombia and propelled his acting from sweet-faced boy to serious contender. JGL's performance in Brick is mysterious and dark as you watch his character creep through the teenage underworld of Southern California in search of clues.
Another melancholy film, 50/50 centers around a young man who is suddenly diagnosed with cancer. The combination of JGL, Seth Rogen, and Anna Kendrick turned this depressing indie film into an uplifting message of hope and friendship. If Levitt is good at anything, it would be his utter talent at turning a hopeless situation into one that is heartwarming.
4. The Walk
His most recent endeavor as Philippe Petit, a high-wire artist from the 1970s, was one of the most convincing portrayals. While at Colombia, JGL immersed himself in French culture, with most people referring to him as a Francophile, and this passion certainly leaked through into his work. Levitt brings to life the daring adventure Petit embarked on as he illegally walked the void between the World Trade Center Towers.
In Lincoln, JGL plays Abraham Lincoln's oldest son, Robert. It is the end of the American Civil War and a young adult Robert struggles to repair the relationship with his father (Daniel Day-Lewis). Once again, JGL proved that he had the talent and range to take on a serious role with Steven Spielberg's biographical drama.
6. Don Jon
Don Jon was a triple threat for Levitt as he wrote, directed, and starred in this satirical comedy about a New Jersey man who struggles with the unrealistic expectations he has developed from watching too much porn. With Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza, & Julianne Moore by his side, you can't help but laugh at this ridiculous story of life and love. Plus, he has the sexiest Jersey accent I've ever heard (almost as good as his French accent).
Inception was a tour-de-force for Christopher Nolan, taking its characters and audience beyond reality. A thief is hired to use dream-sharing technology to implant an idea into a CEO's mind, causing the lines to blur between imagination and reality. This all-star cast consisted of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, and Tom Hardy, yet who could forget some of the most intense scenes revolving around Levitt, such as his Matrix-style fight with a couple of Cillian Murphy projections?
8. The Dark Knight Rises
Teaming up with Christopher Nolan for a second time in 2012, JGL took on the role of Officer John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises. The third and final film in Nolan's Batman trilogy, it follows the characters of Gotham eight years after the Joker's reign of terror. Blake was crucial in saving the city as he worked under Commissioner Gordon, seamlessly helping Batman without even knowing it. Levitt killed it as the Robin you didn't know you had.
9. 10 Things I Hate About You
It's time to take it back...way back to JGL's first major film role. In 10 Things I Hate About You, Levitt plays Cameron, a new student who falls head over heels for the popular girl (Larisa Olyenik) in school. Only problem? Her father won't allow her to date until her older sister does. A hilarious take on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things was a massive hit with a 90s take and a cast of (baby-faced) A-list stars such as Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Gabrielle Union, & David Krumholtz, but it was Levitt who ran off with your heart as he desperately pined after Bianca. (Okay... Maybe Heath, too.)
10. Angels in the Outfield
Speaking of baby-faced, what kind of list would this be without Angels in the Outfield? A twelve-year-old Levitt plays Roger Bomman, a sweet kid who is obsessed with the Los Angeles baseball team and is depressed over his separated parents. He prays for the chance to be a real family as long as the Angels win the pennant which results in Angels being sent down to help him. Acting alongside Tony Danza, Danny Glover, & Christopher Llyod, Levitt's clear talent shines as a child actor with a bright future.
Happy Birthday, Joseph Gordon-Levitt!