At this point, I think it's safe to say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has carved out a space for himself as one of the most promising talents in his age range, and he's demonstrated a pretty remarkable range over the past twenty years in front of the camera.
Even as a kid on "Third Rock From The Sun," he managed to stand toe-to-toe with John Lithgow who was turned up to Full Ham. And Lithgow at Full Ham is like ten times anybody else at Full Ham. To stand there and play scenes with that when you're still in your teens is no easy feat, but Gordon-Levitt always made it look easy.
And as he's come into focus as an adult performer, he has been lucky enough to find collaborators that have helped him redefine himself with grace and style. I always wonder what would have happened to Kurt Russell if there was no John Carpenter, and likewise, I wonder about Gordon-Levitt if there was no Rian Johnson. "Brick" may not have been a giant box-office hit, but it was a key step in the way he evolved into a credible leading man, and without him playing that role, he might not have been given a shot at films like "The Lookout," "Stop-Loss," or "500 Days Of Summer."
With his appearance on "Saturday Night Live" and his remarkable reproduction of Donald O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh" number from "Singin' In The Rain," he demonstrated a physical facility that is starting to come into play now in his films, and in the anti-gravity hallway and hotel fight in "Inception," he showed how that works in action films, too.
For my money, though, "50/50" is the film to look at if you want to see who he's going to be as an actor moving forward. There is an approachable charm to the work that Gordon-Levitt is doing these days that is significant. He's comfortable in his own skin in a way that many older actors never could be. And with a new Rian Johnson movie and a new Christopher Nolan movie in the works, he's obviously found collaborators he's going to keep working with over and over, and that's good news. I sat down with him in Toronto right in the middle of the film festival this year, and our conversation was nice and relaxed, which is crazy since he was gearing up for one of his hitRECordJoe shows.
One thing's for sure… I'll bet he's never bored.
"50/50" opens in theaters September 30, 2011.