"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.
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. 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. -Is it Joseph or Joe?
-It depends who’s talking. And, more importantly, it depends on how they say it. If a pretty French girl wants to call me Josef then I’m down with that. -The new ﬁlm stuff all happened after a ﬁlm I did called Manic, which I made in 2001. I played a mentally ill kid. If there was one hurdle then it might have been Manic. -Rian Johnson saw it and cast me in Brick. Gregg Araki also saw it and cast me in Mysterious Skin, which was the ﬁrst time that anyone had asked me to be sexy.
-What was it like taking Brick and Mysterious Skin to Sundance in the same year?
-It’s a cliché to say it, but that was a dream come true. To go to Sundance had been a promise I’d made to myself since I was a kid working on TV. So ten years later when I was able to go there with two movies that I was really proud of, it meant the world to me.
-Do you lose yourself in your characters?
-The simple answer is no. Some actors stay in character on set. I think that’s impressive but I’ve never done it. But when I went home at night on Stop-Loss I was still very much in the mood of that character. It’s a strange thing to say about yourself, but I change a lot with different roles. I’m a volatile person.
-Do you think you’re attractive?
-[Laughs] That’s not a fair question. How can you answer that without sounding like a tool?
-Is music crucial to you?
-Yeah. We’re all made of music. It’s the most basic thing in the universe.
-Do-Do you Google yourself?
-Yes. It was a triumphant day for me about a year ago when my website hitrecord.org came up ﬁrst on the Google page under my name. I make short ﬁlms and put them on there. Now I think it’s number four. -What were your favourite ﬁlms growing up?
-Well, Dumbo still hits me harder than just about any other. Dumbo or Bambi couldn’t happen nowadays. In this business where accountants and lawyers are now in charge of how stories get told, the movies are sucking.
-Are you in the frame to do the live-action Akira with Leonardo DiCaprio?
-That’s just a rumour. They haven’t ﬁnished the script yet. I’m waiting to read it.
-Are you worried that doing big movies like G.I. Joe will make your life difﬁcult?
-In what way? In terms of fame. I don’t feel famous. That word gives me the creeps. Personally, I don’t think fame has that much to do with it – it’s about making good movies. When I was younger, if people recognised me, I would lie or hide. I’d rather have just gone to work and then burnt the ﬁlm. I was a selﬁsh little kid, really. But now I want to do stuff that matters. So when people come up to me and say that a movie I was in made them laugh or cry, it means everything to me".
"Stop-Loss" is in cinemas from April 25.