This week Marc Webb’s uncategorizable film, 500 Days of Summer will be hitting theaters this week and we were lucky enough to sit down to a one on one with one of the two stars of the film Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The man is sweet, charming, and quite possibly one of the most under rated actors of our time — although not for long.
There is no doubt that the indie film 500 Days of Summer is about to become one of the buzzed about, must see films of the year. But that’s not where Levitt stops, he also plays the villain in the summer blockbuster G.I. Joe, is shooting Hesher across Natalie Portman, and was cast in Christopher Nolan‘s super secret project Inception. Needless to say, we’re about to be seeing a lot of this guy, but before then let him carry you away with his amazing performance in 500 Days of Summer.
Check out what he had to say below…
500 Days of Summer is about a guy named Tom (Levitt) who falls in love with a girl named Summer (Zooey Deschanel) who doesn’t fall back in love with him. The story is as over the top and original as they come and so are the actors in it.
I’ve noticed that this is a love story that for some reason men more than woman can relate to. Why do you think that is?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yeah, well it’s true the cliche is that any love story is like for girls, but I think this movie defies a lot of cliches and I certainly identify with it and I did when I was reading the script; you know it’s a movie that’s basically made by dudes — other than Zooey, whose enough femininity to counterbalance all the dudes present — but you know the writers are both guys, the director is Mark Webb, and then there’s me. I hesitate to say that it’s from a guy’s point of view because it is from one individual character’s point of view and he is a guy, but I think that, you know it’s interesting, a lot of people say that Tom is more the girl and that Summer is like the guy — I don’t quite agree with. I just think they’re sort of individuals and the gender; all the gender sort of boundaries are getting blended and subverted, but what am I saying, nah, I guess I’m not shocked that guys really like it, it makes sense.
A lot of comedies or romantic-comedies claim to be “quirky” everyone always says, “Oh it’s so out there!” But they never really go out there. This film took everything as far as it could but nothing felt unattainable. When you read it, did you think “Wow, this is absolutely crazy. How are they going to pull this off?” Or if you were, “Finally somebody actually it where it needs to be.”
JGL: Yeah it’s more the latter, you know I think that cinema is perfect for that, it’s just what you said. The movie’s about someone’s point of view, it’s about how it feels, not how some like objective third-person logical depiction of what happened and cinema is perfect for that because cinema is subjective. We forget that a lot because one of the founding rules of the Hollywood style of filmmaking is to make it look objective and try to make the audience forget that they’re watching a movie; you try to convince them that they’re just watching the truth and you know that’s the convention in Hollywood movies as well as American media in general and I love that about 500 Days of Summer that it explicitly reminds you, “Remember, you’re watching a movie now.” I love that it reminds us of that because that’s how life is, as much as it seems like we see what’s going on, we really only see it from our point of view and someone else might see it really differently and that is so important to remember. And, I’m really proud of it for reminding us of that.
You’ve done a lot of serious roles, Manic comes to mind, although you’re very well known for comedy probably from “3rd Rock from the Sun.” What type of actor do you consider yourself?
JGL: I was busy doing that TV show for a long time. The funny thing is that when I did that TV show it was new for me, I’ve been acting since I was young, and if you ask like my mom or my acting teacher form back when I was young they would all probably say, “Yeah, yeah, he’s serious. Joey is into, you know.” I didn’t use to know how to do comedy, I kind of learned how to do that on 3rd Rock and then when 3rd Rock was done, I got to do some more serious stuff, but for me I like them both and I think you kind of have to draw from both and every good drama is funny at points and I think the best comedies are serious at points. Casablanca for example is hilarious movie and 500 Days of Summer, not to compare it to Casablanca because that’s a little lofty, but just for the sake of this point, 500 Days of Summer, which is a comedy and really funny, we wanted it to have be emotionally honest as honest as a drama and I think that’s a lot of what people really like about it is that is doesn’t feel like they’re being lied to. Love is a big deal and feels like a big deal when you’re going through it and it’s, I guess a lot of romantic comedies, if they’re really funny they kind of, they make a lie of it, if a guy’s brokenhearted, it’ll just be kicking and screaming on the floor or something, you know what I mean and it doesn’t feel like it really feels–
One of my favorite moments was the dance number and more importantly the strut leading up to it.
JGL: Well, even when we weren’t dancing, Marc still put on the “Hall of Oates” song for when we were shooting those strutting moments, and that helped.
Or a montage perhaps?
JGL: Yeah, right, yeah. And I think that that’s– it makes the funny parts even funnier, it makes the parts that feel good feel even better– to go through and be honest about the pain that can be involved falling in love.
Was it fun to be able to break the forth wall and look directly into the camera?
JGL: I love doing stuff like that. You don’t often get to break the fourth wall. Movies are so good for that, there’s a camera right there, why wouldn’t you look at it. For thousands of years of theater tradition, the fourth wall never was there, that’s pretty new actually, the idea that you ignore the audience is a new thing, it’s become entirely prevalent but it’s pretty new. I love kind of poking holes in that convention.
Normally, in a movie like this, you would work a lot with Zooey, on preparing your relationship and everything like that, but it seems like this, you two almost had two separate relationships throughout the entire movie, so did you get to just get to prepare for it on your own for the most part, or did you guys have to work together a lot?
JGL: That’s an interesting way to put it, yeah they do kind of have their own things going and, at the same time. We did rehearse, not tons because we wanted it to kind of be organic when we were doing it and when we were shooting it, but we did rehearse, and what really helped was the fact that Zooey and I knew each other and we’ve been friends for so long and so we already trusted each other and kind of understood each others sensibilities and so to do such an intimate relationship in a movie made it so much easier to have a friend.
You’ve done so many great films that are loved but seen by everyone and you’re about to have G.I. Joe come out and be in a position wheres kids have dolls of you. What id that like?
JGL: Yeah, you know, I don’t think about that stuff very much, I really like making movies and it’ll be cool if these movies were successful, if they are then– there’s no wood here. Then I’ll get to make more movies, and that’s nice, but as far as, you know, I don’t know how to– I like people to see this stuff especially if it means something to them, that’s nice.
What’s it like swapping from something like 500 Days of Summer to G.I. Joe? How do you change your acting?
JGL: That movie has nothing to do with reality. That movie is really just about being an archetype.
So you’re a soldier, a killer?
JGL: Oh no, I’m just a future ruler of the world. (laughter)
Check out 500 Days of Summer in theaters this Friday July 17th.