You may not know his name. You may not even know his face. But look out Jake Gyllenhaal – indie prince Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fast becoming one of the hottest properties in Hollywood. Wonderland ﬁnds out where he’s going with that gun in his hand… ?
The road from child star to adult actor is littered with mangled corpses. Puberty does for most of them, with many ex-moppets skidding off the tarmac as soon as they lose their cutesy looks. Others make it into their teens, only to crash in gory style courtesy of drugs or drink. And if the booze and narcotics don’t get them, the psychotherapy will…
For indie star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it was a close call. Like so many of his peers, the 27-year-old almost ended up as road-kill. As a teenager, the actor hated being a celebrity. He hated being pimped out as a poster boy during his six-year stretch on suburban-alien sitcom 3rd Rock From The Sun. He hated being named one of People magazine’s ‘21 Hottest Stars Under 21’. And if a fan came up and asked for an autograph, it would ruin his day. He hated it all so much, in fact, that – after cashing in his heartthrob chips in Halloween: H2O and 10 Things I Hate About You – he asked to be released from his contract during 3rd Rock’s ﬁnal season and then abandoned acting altogether and ﬂed to New York to study French poetry at Columbia University.
Born in 1981 to Jewish hippie-liberals – Mom ran for US Congress for the Peaace and Freedom Party in the 70s; Dad was head of news at a leftie radio station – Gordon-Levitt was ushered into showbiz at an early age. He hopped quickly from peanut butter and Pop Tart commercials to TV bit-parts. A few inconsequential ﬁlm roles came and went before he got his break as Tommy Solomon, 3rd Rock’s wisecracking extraterrestrial-cum-horny-teen. The ﬁrst thing you notice about Gordon-Levitt in person is the hooded eyes that give him an eerie resemblance to Heath Ledger. The Los Angeles native was once described as having the “mean-eyed sensuality of a Larry Clark pin-up”. It was meant as a compliment. Since relaunching his career in 2005 with star-making turns in Gregg Araki’s art-house smash Mysterious Skin and cult high-school noir Brick, Gordon-Levitt has been the object of even more critical adulation. In the former, he stripped off to play a hustler whose childhood abuse leads him to embrace life as a gung-ho rent boy; and in Brick his mumbling loner dominates every frame. With two massive indie hits under his belt, Gordon-Levitt found himself on every Hollywood hot-list. At his best, the adult Gordon-Levitt is a stealthy, cerebral performer – always shining without shouting. Recently, he’s been slotting nimbly into studio ﬁlms like Memento-style heist thriller The Lookout; and Killshot, in which he plays a psychopathic assassin stalking Diane Lane. Next on our screens, though, is Kimberly (Boys Don’t Cry) Peirce’s eagerly anticipated boys-back-from-Iraq drama Stop-Loss, in which Gordon-Levitt co-stars with Ryan Phillippe. To date, he has kept a tight steer on script choices – no youth romps, no ﬂowery rom-coms. Instead he seeks out troubled, edgy roles that showcase his dark side. But as Wonderland meets up with Gordon-Levitt for breakfast at a Brazilian café in the Los Feliz district of LA, he is about to face one last hairpin bend on the road to fully ﬂedged stardom: the blockbuster.