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Why I Love: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

In Film, People, Television on July 20, 2010 at 1:31 am

‘Because he’s just so damn cute’ doesn’t quite cut it.


“I kissed her,” said Cameron, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. “Where?,” quips co-star Heath Ledger as Pat Verona. With the cutest, most innocent smile, Cameron answers “In the car.”

Like that scene, Gordon-Levitt has capitalized on his boyish charm and bagged steady teeny bopper roles as a start in Hollywood, both in film (Beethoven) and television (3rd Rock From The Sun). This probably led to roles that are endearing enough even for pitiful ‘loser’ types that he is categorized in when it comes to the high school labels. In 10 Things, Heath Ledger was the main attraction, and Gordon-Levitt paled in comparison – looking physically and aesthetically lackluster.

The next film I see him in is The Lookout, this was when I acknowledged the fact that he has grown up and has detached himself of the ‘wholesomeness’ that often traps actors of his age. The acting was enough to engage me (to the entire movie) without any trouble.

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Next thing I know, he’s in Inception. Although Leonardo DiCaprio is the main attraction, and he again is the sidekick, it’s safe to say the contrast wasn’t that stark this time around. With a sharp suit and an uncanny resemblance to former co-star Heath Ledger and even Keanu Reeves for that matter, Gordon-Levitt delivers notable acting chops that make you look back at that kid Cameron in 10 Things and go “That was him?”

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So now that he got my attention, I took the time to know his earlier works, which sure enough turned out to be as impressive as his Inception stint.

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In 2004, he starred in Mysterious Skin where he played a troubled teen haunted by sexual abuse as a child. The film touched bravely on the long term effects of sexual abuse on boys, and how it breeds homosexuality – the role had Gordon-Levitt perform probably one of his most challenging and commendable roles to date. Taking a huge leap from the innocence of boyhood that he initially invested in, he succeeded where most child actors often failed.

Furthermore, 2009’s (500) Days of Summer propelled him into positive critical reception, earning his first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. The film opened the 2009 Sundance Festival and received a standing ovation from the audience.

The film was evident of Gordon-Levitt’s diversity as an actor – playing a man in different stages of love – happiness, confusion, anger, depression and, ultimately, acceptance. With his old boyish charm bordering on the effeminate, he pulled off a dance routine and at the same time tapping on his recently-discovered dark side to look like he was pulled straight out of the gutter when things in the story turns out to be a huge disappointment.

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In the film industry’s constant changes and fickle audience, it’s nice to know that child stars like Gordon-Levitt can go beyond that lovable high school loser and do so much more – beyond drugs and alcohol – and evolve to become (and possibly replace) his predecessors, and for once be the main attraction.

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