"Acting's really difficult to talk about. If you could talk about so easily then you wouldn't have to act."
Over the past few days, I've blown through 13 movies, all of them starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (14 if you count Inception). It's no secret that I pretty much worship the man, and this extravaganza of mine was a great way to express my adoration. But, all good things must come to an end, so, what is there left to do? Well, I have to sum up everything, now don't I? I have to give my final two cents on the man as an actor! I have to briefly revisit each performance. I have to explain why I would totally go gay for him (I'm actually (semi)serious about that!). Read on and enjoy... if you dare!
First off, let's get the boring stuff out of the way. At the end of all marathons, you have to rank everything you experienced, and this marathon is no different. I am not ranking JGL's films; I am ranking his performances in these films. What, in my mind, was his best performance, and what was his weakest? You're about to find out.
14: Tony in Sweet Jane: The only performance on this list that I would actually consider to be bad, and even that's a stretch! It's not terrible, but Jo-Go is just getting into dramatic stuff with this role, and the lack of experience shows.
13: Bobby in Uncertainty: Again, not a bad performance, but easily one of his weakest. He doesn't show much flair for the improvised dialogue and is surprisingly wooden. But I blame that on the story, which gave him next to nothing to do!
12: Dr. Don in Shadowboxer: An inconsequential role, but Gordon-Levitt gives it his all and has a great time playing this weirdo! It's not a difficult part for him, and he doesn't need to try at all, but, he did, and we love him for it.
11: The Doctor/Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: To me, Jo-Go was the only one who embraced the absurdity of the film, and milked it for all it's worth! This is the definition of scenery chewing, from the gravelly voice, to the elaborate hand gestures, to the grandiose speeches! It's honest, campy fun!
10: Sam in Havoc: Pure, over the top, ridiculousness. Zero substance, but extremely entertaining!
9: Bert Rodriguez in Women in Trouble: He's in the movie for 6 minutes, but they are the funniest 6 minutes of the whole thing.
8: Tommy Burgess in Stop-Loss: The only performance of the film that conveyed a sense of menace and anguish. We actually felt like he was a soldier coping with what had happened to him.
7: Lyle in Manic: He gets at the heart of a troubled teen and delivers a searing performance.
6: Cameron in 10 Things I Hate About You: Innocent, sweet, naive, and funny as hell, the performance that put him on the map is one of his most mainstream, but still a classic.
5: Arthur in Inception: His first foray into blockbuster action territory could not have been better. He's not presented with the deepest of characters, but he masterfully works with what he has and turns in a badass performance!
4: Brendan in Brick: You will believe a teenager can talk like a hardboiled detective on the edge! The performance that started his trend of small, deceptively brilliant roles is still one the greats of indie cinema.
3: Neil in Mysterious Skin: Absolutely soul wrenching and stomach churning! It took serious guts to pull off this role, guts Jo-Go has an excess of! Easily his bravest performance, this one is touching, heartbreaking, and incredibly sad, but altogether amazing!
2: Tom Hansen in (500) Days of Summer: He takes on the cliché role of a "woe-is-me" suitor in a romantic comedy and completely does away with the cliché part! He's hilarious, deep, and, most importantly of all, he's relatable!
1: Chris Pratt in The Lookout: The creme de la creme of JGL's performances! Here, Jo-Go goes deep into his soul to put the pain and turmoil of this kid on the screen. The film blisters with his energy and passion for the role. You feel his pain as if it were your own! It's so friggin' good!
For the record, I think (500) Days of Summer is the better film, but Gordon-Levitt's performance in The Lookout is better than his performance in (500) Days of Summer. Make sense? Fantastic!
So, why do I love this man? Well, for starters, he's a fucking brilliant actor! Every single one his roles has something to them that makes them, at the very least, decent. Most of the time they are amazing, mind-boggling, near perfect performances! Even given roles where he has next to nothing to work with, he manages to find something to bring out onto the screen, often revealing a stronger character then the writer's probably envisioned! But, that's the superficial stuff if you ask me.
There is so much more to the man. It's clear, once you do your research - which I, like any good stalker, have - that is not your typical movie star. As was said in my Heath Ledger comparison article, he has traditionally shied away from big budget films with huge stars, preferring instead to work with those who are less well known, but arguably more talented! He has only been in two bonafide money makers, and he has been consistently making movies for more then a decade! Gordon-Levitt is clearly more drawn to the quality of the words on the page and the integrity of the people he is working with, rather than the money or the fame!
Like any decent artist, Gordon-Levitt is well rounded. He took time off acting, attended Columbia, to study, of all things, French poetry, history, and literature. These types of things only help him in his acting, if you ask me, because he now has that much richer of a tapestry to draw from for his work. Thanks to his time at Columbia, he is now a full on Francophile! He has other talents to. He's a musician, a singer, a writer, and a director. There is probably something out there that he can't do, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what that thing is.
As if to further proclaim how much he wants to work outside of the Hollywood sphere, Jo-Go has started his own production company, called hitRECord. The catch is that anyone can contribute to this, and collaborations are greatly encouraged. hitRECord.org is an awesome site, where some truly inspired material has found a home. People from all over the world are contributing to this site and these are the people that Gordon-Levitt wants to work with. It's so friggin' cool!
Have I explained myself enough? Do you understand why I have an enormous man-crush on him? Maybe I'm crazy (I am), or maybe I'm just starstruck (I definitely am), but Jo-Go is the kind of actor I want to be one day! God willing, I'll make it in the business, and this is the career I want to have. Anyone looking to get into the world of filmmaking and acting can look to Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an inspiration and role model. Everything about him, from his outlook on his work, to how he overcame the usual obstacles that plague former child actors, to his well roundedness, to his witty and clever personality, are all things that anyone could learn from. Jo-Go's not going anywhere any time soon. I am more than ok with that!