It’s not often that child actors are able to convert their careers into films with starring roles, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt did just that. After his breakout performances in “Third Rock from the Sun” and “Angels in the Outfield,” Gordon-Levitt was a star. However, his career did not immediately move in an upward trajectory. After a few years in teen movies like “10 Things I Hate About You,” Levitt began to star in indie films. Soon, films like “500 Days of Summer” were endearing him to fans in dorm rooms around the country. He also shined in “Stop-Loss,” a movie that is way better than it probably should have been.
Gordon-Levitt’s career as an indie darling caught the attention of big budget directors, and since then he’s been a star. Working with directors like Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson and Steven Spielberg will do that for you. This week, Gordon-Levitt continues his run of biopics with “Snowden.” Directed by Oliver Stone, the film follows the story of Edward Snowden, a man who leaked thousands of confidential military documents and became an outlaw. With Gordon-Levitt in the spotlight again, what is your favorite performance from the actor? Let us know in the comments below. Here’s a few of his standouts to get started.
While Gordon-Levitt had already firmly reestablished himself, “50/50” was a coming out party of sorts. Gordon-Levitt used the film as an excellent balance between comedy and drama, which made it quickly apparent it would be one of the best performances of his career. The film follows a young man named Adam who is diagnosed with cancer. Despite the help of his friends and family, he struggles to come to terms with his diagnosis. The film’s showcase performances revolve around Gordon-Levitt, with Seth Rogen and Angelica Huston also turning in great performances as well. Gordon-Levitt’s vulnerability, anger and depression over the diagnosis are real, which makes this layered performance his best to date.
The first of Gordon-Levitt’s collaborations with director Rian Johnson is one of the best neo-noirs of the 21st century. Gordon-Levitt plays a high school detective investigating the death of his ex-girlfriend after he receives a call from her begging for help. This sets off a film that takes heavy inspiration from hard-boiled crime novels, including the work of Dashiell Hammett. A blend of several noir and crime stories, Gordon-Levitt’s performance as a private eye is impressive to say the least. Coming just a few years after “Third Rock,” it’s a transformative performance. Starting with “Brick,” the “aw shucks” version of Gordon-Levitt disappears, leading to a career-altering move. “Brick” is the true beginning of his indie darling phase, one that would come to define the actor.
The film that gave Gordon-Levitt his huge breakthrough with general audiences was “Inception” in 2010. The blockbuster was a sensation, ultimately receiving a Best Picture nomination. Gordon-Levitt as Arthur remains one of the most memorable characters in the film, and has many of its iconic moments. The hallway fight scene is the most iconic shot of the year, and Gordon-Levitt owns his other scenes throughout. The film is a showcase for Gordon-Levitt’s charisma, and gives him multiple opportunities to capitalize on it.