Joseph Gordon-Levitt (born in California in 1981) is undoubtedly hot property in mainstream cinema right now, considering his most recent roles in Looper (2012), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Inception (2010), so why feature him as ÉCU’s spotlight? Well, putting his blockbuster achievements aside, let’s not forget his propensity for indie film and how his roles in independent movies originally drew attention to his exceptional talent as an actor. Gordon-Levitt starred in (500) Days of Summer (2009), a film that swiftly became a cult-favourite and established him as a leading figure of indie cinema. In (500) Days of Summer, he captured hearts as the adorably love-sick and forlorn greeting-card composer Tom Hansen, which recalled his role as the high school underdog who desperately craves the attention of the girl he’s enamoured by in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999).

Also of interest to us at ÉCU is Gordon-Levitt’s encouragement of people to get their work out there and collaborate together creatively, which is clear from his online open collaborative production company HitRECord. The company’s website explains how profits are shared between collaborating artists, and work has been screened at international film festivals – as always, to help promote it and gain recognition. Furthering independent projects with multiple creative talents and submitting to festivals to get feedback, credit and acknowledge from wider audiences? Yes, that sounds good – we agree how vital it is to share work with the public and come together to carry out creative visions!

Gordon-Levitt earned his stripes as an actor for his adept treatment of challenging roles in a sequence of dramatic indie films, including Mysterious Skin (2004), Brick (2005), and The Lookout (2007). In Mysterious Skin Gordon-Levitt’s adroit ability to make manifest a complex character is remarkable, as he plays a reckless hustler who has been affected by childhood sexual abuse. The Lookout sees him take on the role of Chris Pratt, who suffers brain damage after a car crash and has to deal with short-term memory loss. His moving portrayals in these intense and gripping independent films notably gained him serious credit after his early days in TV (for example, his comedic role as a teenage alien in 3rd Rock from the Sun, which first aired in 1996) and minor parts in feature films.

In 2010 he starred in the odd indie film Hesher, alongside Natalie Portman, where he played the long-haired, heavily tattooed, heavy metal enthusiast who ends up squatting in the garage of a boy who is dealing with the loss of his mother. His tendency to spout profanity around the youngster, watch copious amounts of porn and dabble in arson, add to this unusual character. The film again highlights Gordon-Levitt’s predilection for meandering away from mainstream. Gordon-Levitt maintains a position as a star of both indie and mainstream cinema, indicating that despite his success with major studios he’s eager to continue his work in independent film. Perhaps we’ll even see submissions of some of the work created by his company HitRECord at the festival in the future if they are keen to export it to France and attract an audience in Europe! We hear he is an avowed Francophile…

Gill Gillespie


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