Joseph Gordon-Levitt Biography

Film Actor, Actor, Television Actor (1981–)
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred in the TV comedy 3rd Rock From the Sun, and several acclaimed films, including (500) Days of Summer, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.


Born on February 17, 1981, Joseph Gordon-Levitt started acting at an early age. He co-starred with John Lithgow and Jane Curtin in 3rd Rock From the Sun for six seasons, beginning in 1996. Gordon-Levitt went to Columbia University for a time before returning to acting. He starred in several independent films, including the 2008 hit (500) Days of Summer and Christopher Nolan's 2011 film Inception. In 2012, Gordon-Levitt teamed up with Christopher Nolan again, performing in the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 07:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt at Christopher Nolan Hands and Footprints Ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on July 7, 2012 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/WireImage)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 07: Joseph Gordon-Levitt at Christopher Nolan Hands and Footprints Ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on July 7, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/WireImage)

Child Actor

In many ways, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the exception to the Hollywood rule—having successfully transitioned from a child star to a well-regarded grown-up talent. He started out in local children's theater, appearing in his first play at the age of four. "I was never pressured into acting," he later to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. "I just genuinely liked it, like I liked gymnastics and football and Little League." Gordon-Levitt soon moved on to commercials and television shows, appearing in a peanut-butter ad when he was 6 years old.

Gordon-Levitt moved on to roles in such series as the 1991 reboot of the classic gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, and the early '90s sitcom The Powers That Be with John Forsythe and David Hyde Pierce. But his career really took off with the alien comedy 3rd Rock From the Sun, which premiered in the fall of 1996. The series followed a group of aliens, who come to Earth and pretend to be a human family. Gordon-Levitt played an alien who appears to be a teenage boy. John Lithgow played the commander of this alien mission, who pretends to be a college professor. The show was tremendously popular, running for six seasons.

In the sixth season, Gordon-Levitt reduced his role in the show to stay on as a guest star. Around the same time, he moved to New York City, where he enrolled at Columbia University. For three years, Gordon-Levitt took classes at the prestigious school, studying French literature among other subjects.

Rising Film Star

After his sabbatical from Hollywood, Gordon-Levitt seemed determined to dispel any preconceived notions of him as an actor. He took on an array of challenging roles in independent films, from a street hustler in Mysterious Skin (2004) to a teenage detective in Brick (2005), to a brain-injured criminal in The Lookout (2007).

In 2009, Gordon-Levitt proved himself to have what it takes to be a leading man, with the hit independent romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer, starring opposite Zooey Deschanel. He earned a Golden Globe Award nomination for his performance in the film. That same year, he appeared in the summer action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra as a villain.

In 2010, Gordon-Levitt worked with Christopher Nolan on his innovative science-fiction film Inception, co-starring with Leonardo DiCaprio. He received some of his strongest reviews, however, for a much more realistic tale: In 50/50, Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a young man who learns that he has cancer. The film, which co-stars Seth Rogen, explores both the challenges and the humorous possibilities of Tom's situation.

A fan of Batman since childhood, Gordon-Levitt fulfilled a personal dream by getting to work with the caped crusader in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. He plays a Gotham City police officer in this installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman saga. Christian Bale plays the famed crime fighter in the film. Gordon-Levitt also worked with director Steven Spielberg on the 2012 biopic Abraham Lincoln, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the historic president. Gordon-Levitt plays Lincoln's son, Robert, in the film.

In 2013, Gordon-Levitt took on another interesting role. He starred opposite Scarlett Johansson in the offbeat romantic comedy Don Jon as a man whose love life is affected by his interest in porn. Gordon-Levitt also appears in Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014). In 2015, he starred as famed tight-rope walker Philippe Petit in The Walk, directed by Robert Zemeckis. The following year, he took on the role of another real person, playing Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency subcontractor who exposed government surveillance activities, in Oliver Stone's biopic Snowden (2016).

While Gordon-Levitt's work ranges from indie pictures to major studio releases, he is guided by a basic principle when choosing his roles: "I'm attracted to characters who feel like real human beings, not stereotypes, or plot points," he told the New Jersey Star-Ledger in an interview.

Personal Life

In addition to acting, Gordon-Levitt is a creative visionary. He developed hitRECord, a collaborative production company, which brings together artists, musicians, filmmakers and others. Together, they produce different types of media, including short films, albums and books. Gordon-Levitt's enterprise released RECollection, Volume I in 2011, which featured songs, videos, stories and images made by the collective. The collective also debuted its own TV show in 2014.

Gordon-Levitt lost his older brother, Dan, in October 2010. His brother was a performance artist and a fire spinner, who often went by the name "Burning Dan." In 2012, Gordon-Levitt was angered by an article in GQ, which claimed that Dan had died of a drug overdose. The official cause of Dan's death was not released, and Gordon-Levitt wrote in his tumblr account that the article was "factually incorrect according to the coroner's office and the police department." He went on to say that his brother "was a brightly positive, genuinely caring, and brilliantly inspiring person."

Gordon-Levitt married Tasha McCauley on December 20, 2014. The couple announced the birth of their son in August 2015.

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