Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt (/ˈlɛvɪt/; born February 17, 1981) is an American actor, filmmaker, singer, and entrepreneur. As a child, Gordon-Levitt appeared in the films A River Runs Through It, Angels in the Outfield, Holy Matrimony 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, Miracle at St. Anna, The Brothers Bloom, The Dark Knight Rises, Brick, Looper, The Lookout, Manic, Lincoln, Mysterious Skin, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He portrayed Philippe Petit in the Robert Zemeckis-directed film The Walk (2015),[1] and whistleblower Edward Snowden in the Oliver Stone film Snowden (2016).[2] For his leading performances in (500) Days of Summer and 50/50, he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Gordon-Levitt at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con
Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt

(1981-02-17) February 17, 1981
  • Actor
  • filmmaker
  • singer
  • entrepreneur
Years active1988–present
Tasha McCauley (m. 2014)
RelativesMichael Gordon (grandfather)

Gordon-Levitt also founded the online production company hitRECord in 2004 and has hosted his own TV series, HitRecord on TV, since January 2014, winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media - Social TV Experience in the same year. In 2013, Gordon-Levitt made his feature film directing and screenwriting debut with Don Jon, 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.

Early life

Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt[3] was born in Los Angeles, California[3] on February 17, 1981.[4][5][6] He was raised in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles.[7] He is Jewish, from a family that is "not strictly religious";[8][9][10][11] his parents were among the founders of the Progressive Jewish Alliance.[12][13][14][15] Gordon-Levitt's father, Dennis Levitt, was once the news director for the Pacifica Radio station, KPFK-FM.[16][17] 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.[16] His maternal grandfather, Michael Gordon (1909–1993), was a Hollywood film director.[16] Gordon-Levitt had an older brother, Dan,[18][19] a photographer and fire spinner who died in 2010 at the age of 36.[20] Gordon-Levitt attended Van Nuys High School and graduated in 1999.[21]


Early acting work

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.[16]

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 1991 television series, and appeared in the movie A River Runs Through It .[22] 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 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. The series ran for six seasons. The San Francisco Chronicle noted that Gordon-Levitt was a "Jewish kid playing an extraterrestrial pretending to be a Jewish kid".[23] During the 1990s, he was frequently featured in teenage magazines. He also made an appearance on That '70s Show in 1998 as Buddy, a gay teenager who assumes his friend (main character Eric Forman) is gay as well, in the episode "Eric's Buddy".

Gordon-Levitt had a supporting role in 1998's Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, 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.[24] In 2000, he began attending Columbia University School of General Studies.[16][25] He studied history, literature, and French poetry.[16] He became an avid Francophile and a French speaker.[16] He said that moving to New York City from his hometown forced him to grow as a person.[23] He dropped out in 2004 to concentrate on acting again.[16]

Later acting work

Gordon-Levitt has said that he made a conscious decision to "be in good movies" after returning to acting.[25] 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, in which he had the lead role of Brendan Frye, a teen who becomes involved in an underground drug ring while investigating a murder. Brick received positive reviews, with The Minnesota Daily's critic commenting that Gordon-Levitt played the character "beautifully", "true to film's style", "unfeeling but not disenchanted", and "sexy in the most ambiguous way."[25][26] Another reviewer described the performance as "astounding".[27] He also starred opposite Steve Sandvoss as a young judgmental missionary in Latter Days (2003), a film that centers on a sexually repressed Mormon missionary (Sandvoss) who falls for his gay neighbor. He had roles in Havoc and Shadowboxer.[28]

His next role was in 2007's The Lookout, in which he played Chris Pratt, a janitor involved in a bank heist. In reviewing the film, The Philadelphia Inquirer described Gordon-Levitt as a "surprisingly formidable, and formidably surprising, leading man",[29] while New York magazine stated that he is a "major tabula rasa actor ... a minimalist", and that his character worked because he "doesn't seize the space ... by what he takes away from the character."[30] The San Francisco Chronicle specified that he "embodies, more than performs, a character's inner life."[23] His 2008 and 2009 films include Stop-Loss, directed by Kimberly Peirce and revolving around American soldiers returning from the Iraq War, and Killshot, in which he played a hoodlum partnered with a hired killer played by Mickey Rourke.[25]

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.[28] His performance, described as "the real key" to what makes the film work, credits him with using "his usual spell in subtle gradations."[31] Variety's Todd McCarthy praised his performance, saying he "expressively alternates between enthusiasm and forlorn disappointment in the manner Jack Lemmon could".[32] 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."[33] He was subsequently nominated for a Golden Globe Award.[34]

He later played villain Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.[35] On November 21, 2009, he hosted Saturday Night Live.[36] In 2010, he replaced James Franco[37] to star alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Christopher Nolan's science fiction thriller Inception, which received favorable reviews.[28]

In 2011, Gordon-Levitt began filming Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, in which he played John Blake, a police officer who emerges as a key ally of Batman.[38] In Premium Rush, he played the starring role of fixie-riding, brash bicycle messenger; he portrayed the younger version of Bruce Willis' character, in a shared role for the time-travel thriller Looper,;[39] and the supporting role of Robert Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's biopic Lincoln, all three released in 2012.[40]

Gordon-Levitt played a new character, Johnny, in the sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014), described by the filmmakers as "a cocky gambler who disguises a darker mission to destroy his most foul enemy at his best game".[41] In October 2013, it was reported that he was one of the frontrunners to play the lead character for Marvel Studios's superhero film Ant-Man, which eventually went to Paul Rudd.[42]

In 2015, Gordon-Levitt starred as Philippe Petit in the biographical drama The Walk, directed by Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis. Gordon-Levitt then played National Security Agency surveillance leaker Edward Snowden in Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone.[43] The film was released in North America on September 16, 2016, and co-starred Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, and Nicolas Cage.

Directing and producing

Gordon-Levitt's first film as director, the 24 minute-long Sparks, an adaptation of a short story by Elmore Leonard starring Carla Gugino and Eric Stoltz, was selected for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival as part of a new program for short films.[44] In 2010, he directed another short film, Morgan and Destiny's Eleventeenth Date: The Zeppelin Zoo.[45] It premiered at two houses during the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.[45]

He was one of the many producers of the Broadway show Slava's Snowshow.[46]

In 2013, Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed, and starred in his screenwriting and directorial debut, Don Jon. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, and Tony Danza, and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013. Following the premiere, the film was acquired by Relativity Media and Gordon-Levitt stated: "I always intended this to be a movie for a mass popular audience. Everyone told me it was a long shot ... I couldn't possibly be more grateful."[47]


HitRecord (pronounced /ˈhɪt rɪˈkɔːrd/; often stylized as hitREC●rd) is an online collaborative media platform founded and owned by Gordon-Levitt. The company uses a variety of media to produce such projects as short films, books, and DVDs.[48] HitRecord has produced such short films as Morgan M. Morgansen's Date with Destiny and its sequel Morgan and Destiny's Eleventeenth Date: The Zeppelin Zoo.

Personal life

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 1960s and 1970s. 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."[49]

In December 2014, Gordon-Levitt married Tasha McCauley, the founder and CEO of technology company Fellow Robots.[50][51] Their first child, a son, was born in August 2015.[52] Their second son was born in June 2017.[53]



Year Title Role Notes
1992 Beethoven Student No. 1
1992 A River Runs Through It Young Norman
1994 Holy Matrimony Zeke
1994 Roadflower Rich Lerolland
1994 Angels in the Outfield Roger Bomman
1996 The Juror Oliver Laird
1998 Sweet Jane Tony
1998 Halloween H20: 20 Years Later James "Jimmy" Howell
1999 10 Things I Hate About You Cameron James
2000 Picking Up the Pieces Flaco
2000 Forever Lulu Martin Ellsworth
2001 Manic Lyle Jensen
2002 Treasure Planet Jim Hawkins (voice)
2003 Latter Days Elder Paul Ryder
2004 Mysterious Skin Neil McCormick
2005 Brick Brendan Frye
2005 Havoc Sam
2005 Shadowboxer Dr. Don
2007 The Lookout Chris Pratt
2008 Stop-Loss Tommy Burgess
2008 Miracle at St. Anna Tim Boyle
2008 The Brothers Bloom Bar Patron Uncredited cameo[54]
2009 Killshot Richie Nix
2009 Big Breaks Todd Sterling Short film
2009 500 Days of Summer Tom Hansen
2009 Uncertainty Bobby
2009 Women in Trouble Bert Rodriguez
2009 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Rex Lewis / Cobra Commander
2010 Hesher Hesher
2010 Morgan M. Morgansen's Date with Destiny Morgan M. Morgansen / Narrator Short film; also director and editor
2010 Elektra Luxx Bert Rodriguez
2010 Morgan and Destiny's Eleventeenth Date Morgan M. Morgansen / Narrator Short film; also director and editor
2010 Inception Arthur
2011 50/50 Adam Lerner
2012 The Dark Knight Rises John Blake
2012 Premium Rush Wilee
2012 Looper Joe Also executive producer
2012 Lincoln Robert Todd Lincoln
2013 Don Jon Jon "Don Jon" Martello Also director and writer
2014 The Wind Rises Jiro Horikoshi (voice) English dub[55]
2014 Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Johnny
2014 The Interview Himself Uncredited cameo[56]
2015 The Walk Philippe Petit
2015 The Night Before Ethan
2016 Snowden Edward Snowden
2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Slowen Lo (voice) Cameo
2018 Endgame Security Guard Short film
2019 7500 Tobias Ellis
2019 Knives Out Detective Hardrock (voice) Cameo
2020 Untitled Schulman/Joost project Post-production
2020 The Trial of the Chicago 7 Richard H. Shultz Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1988 Stranger on My Land Rounder Television film
1988 Family Ties Dougie 2 episodes
1989 Settle the Score Justin Television film
1990 Murder, She Wrote Boy No. 1 Episode: "Shear Madness"
1991 Changes Matthew "Matt" Hallam Television film
1991 Hi Honey – I'm Dead Josh Stadler Television film
1991 Plymouth Simon Television film
1991 Dark Shadows Daniel Collins / David Collins 11 episodes
1991 China Beach 9-year-old Archie Winslow Episode: "Quest"
1991 Quantum Leap Kyle Episode: "Permanent Wave"
1991 L.A. Law Rick Berg Episode: "Lose the Boss"
1992 The Powers That Be Pierce Van Horne 13 episodes
1993 Gregory K Gregory Kingsley Television film
1993 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Zack Lawson Episode: "The Secret"
1993–1995 Roseanne George 4 episodes
1995 The Great Elephant Escape Matthew Television film
1996–2001 3rd Rock from the Sun Tommy Solomon 131 episodes
1998 That '70s Show Buddy Morgan Episode: "Eric's Buddy"
2000 The Outer Limits Zach Episode: "Something About Harry"
2005 Numb3rs Scott Reynolds Episode: "Sacrifice"
Saturday Night Live Himself / Host 2 episodes
2013 Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular Himself Television special
2014–2015 HitRecord on TV Himself / Host Also executive producer
2015 Comedy Bang! Bang! Himself Episode: "Joseph Gordon-Levitt Wears a Heart T-Shirt and Blue Jeans"
2015 The Mindy Project Matt Sherman Episode: "While I Was Sleeping"
2015 The Muppets Himself Episode: "Going, Going, Gonzo"
2015 Lip Sync Battle Himself Episode: "Joseph Gordon-Levitt vs. Anthony Mackie"
2015 Todrick Himself Episode: "You Unfollowed Me"
2017 Comrade Detective Iosif Baciu (voice) 6 episodes
2018 Drop the Mic Himself Episode: "Seth Rogen vs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Terry Crews vs. Luis Fonsi"
2018 The Comedy Central Roast Himself / Host Episode: “Bruce Willis”
2019 Sesame Street 50th Anniversary Himself / Host Television Special

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon Jim Hawkins Voice
2009 G.I.: The Rise of Cobra Cobra Commander


Awards and nominations


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  2. Pearson, Ryan. "Gordon-Levitt has high hopes for impact of 'Snowden'". AP. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  3. "Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt" is his full name and Los Angeles, California, is his birthplace. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California.
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  13. Sturm, Rüdiger. "Joseph Gordon-Levitt: "I follow my creative impulses"". Lufthansa Magazin. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  14. McCafferty, Dennis; Alan Carter; Lydia Strohl (April 2, 1999). "Favorites of a Young Rock Star". USA Today, through Rome News-Tribune. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
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  20. Sundance 2014: Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives stirring tribute to late brother at HitRECord event -
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  52. Fogarty, Lisa (August 19, 2015). "Bustle".
  53. Schnurr, Samantha (July 20, 2017). "Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tasha McCauley Welcome Baby No. 2". People. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
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  55. Cunningham, Todd (August 27, 2013). "Disney Will Release Hayao Mayazaki's 'The Wind Rises' in U.S." TheWrap. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  56. "I Watched 'The Interview' And It's Easy To See Why The Hackers Hate Sony So Much".
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Chris O'Donnell
Actors to portray Robin
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