For just over three decades, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been gracing our screens with his acting talent. He started as a child actor in small made for TV movies and guest spots on shows like Family Ties and Murder, She Wrote. By the time the mid-90s rolled around, Gordon-Levitt was becoming a household name.
Even after he took a break from acting to study at Columbia University, Gordon-Levitt returned with a vengeance. He shined in a handful of independent films, which vaulted him into some blockbusters. Along the way, he delivered consistently strong performances. We're here to pick out the ten most memorable roles of his storied career.
When Joseph Gordon-Levitt returned to acting, he made a conscious decision to be in stuff that he considered to be good. One of his first forays back was 2005's Brick. This was a notable movie because it not only helped let the world know how talented Gordon-Levitt still was, but it also launched the career of Rian Johnson.
As most fans now know, Johnson has gone on to direct some big movies, including Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But getting back to Gordon-Levitt, he shined as Brendan Frye, a high school student working diligently to uncover the mystery surrounding his ex-girlfriend's death. It was a coming-out party of sorts for Gordon-Levitt.
9 Don Jon
In 2013, Joseph Gordon-Levitt attempted something pretty daunting. He wrote, directed, and starred in his own movie. Don Jon told the story of a man with unrealistic expectations in a relationship due to his addiction to pornography. Gordon-Levitt stars as Jon alongside talent like Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, and Brie Larson.
The acting, script, and direction of Gordon-Levitt were all aspects of the movie that got praised by critics and fans alike. He was nominated for several awards in all three categories. His ability to handle those three tasks so well is more than enough to make this a memorable role for Gordon-Levitt.
8 Angels In The Outfield
Obviously, this wouldn't be considered the best acting in Joseph Gordon-Levitt's career. However, his role in Angels in the Outfield is a memorable one. In this 1994 remake of the 1951 sports comedy, he played Roger Bomman, a foster child who wanted nothing more than for the California Angels to win the pennant.
Roger wanted this because his father offhandedly told him he'd be back in his life when the Angels won the pennant because it was such a longshot. The film is a good old fashioned family fun and it's where most fans first got a real look at Gordon-Levitt since most of his prior roles were small.
7 The Dark Knight Rises
The most financially successful movie Joseph Gordon-Levitt has ever been a part of was The Dark Knight Rises. This 2012 film was the final leg of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Fans speculated for months on who Gordon-Levitt could possibly be playing. It turned out to be John Blake, a New York beat cop with a past similar to that of Bruce Wayne.
Gordon-Levitt turned in a very good performance and Blake played a larger part in the story than most people suspected. The moment at the end where we find out that Blake's middle name is Robin and he's left the keys to the Batcave garnered a great reaction from longtime Batman fans. Playing such a vital part in a billion-dollar movie was one of the few things left for this talented actor to accomplish.
6 3rd Rock From The Sun
Another role played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt from before his time at Columbia University. Shortly after breaking out in Angels in the Outfield, he landed a starring role as Tommy Solomon on 3rd Rock From The Sun. The sitcom centered around a group of aliens who infiltrate Earth and pose as humans.
Playing Tommy Solomon turned out to be the longest stint Joseph Gordon-Levitt ever had in one role. The series lasted six seasons and over 130 episodes. His time there meant he got to work and learn from acting greats like John Lithgow and William Shatner. He's been a much better actor with age, but this is something he's always going to be remembered for.
5 10 Things I Hate About You
The 90s were pretty much the defining decade for teen romantic comedies. There are so many iconic ones from the era, but one that everybody remembers is 10 Things I Hate About You. A modern take on William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, the film went on to become a cult classic and even spawned a short-lived television series.
In 10 Things I Hate About You, Gordon-Levitt portrays Cameron, a new student who is into a girl named Bianca. Her dad doesn't allow her to date until her older sister does, so Cameron enlists the school's bad boy to woo that older sister. Gordon-Levitt is very likable in the role and it remains one of his most popular films. It's also great to see him act alongside Heath Ledger, who many felt he resembled.
After working with Rian Johnson in 2005's Brick, the duo came together again in 2012 for Looper. This sci-fi action flick was about contract killers called "loopers," who terminate targets sent back in time. Gordon-Levitt played one of these loopers named Joe. However, a wrench is thrown into his plans when his older self is one of his targets.
What makes this such a memorable role is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has never looked so different. He wore prosthetics on his face so he could better resemble the actor playing the older version of Joe, Bruce Willis. The film and Gordon-Levitt's acting were met with widespread acclaim.
Thanks to his strong performance here, Joseph Gordon-Levitt formed a relationship with director Christopher Nolan that got him the role in The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan's 2010 film, Inception, was an original idea where thieves enter a person's subconscious to steal or plant ideas in their minds.
In this film, Gordon-Levitt played Arthur, one of the key members of the team that participates in the mind heist. He was also part of arguably the most famous scene, where he has an impressive fight scene taking place in zero gravity. Nobody will ever forget Arthur doing battle in a hallway while floating and walking on walls.
2 (500) Days Of Summer
The combination of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel is one that works. They starred together in 2001's Manic and again for 2009's (500) Days of Summer. Directed by Marc Webb, this movie was a brilliant twist on your average romantic comedy. It told its story in a non-linear fashion that jumped around and always kept you guessing.
As Tom, the hopeless romantic who reads way too much into his casual relationship with Summer, Gordon-Levitt is fantastic. You want him to find love, even if you realize that he's mostly wrong throughout the 500 days of his on-again/off-again romance. The film is brilliant, the acting is great, and the chemistry between the leads is stellar.
In 2011, Joseph Gordon-Levitt took on one of his most challenging roles. For 50/50, he played Adam Lerner, a character based on the film's writer. Lerner is a young man with his future ahead of him until he's diagnosed with cancer. Gordon-Levitt delivered an incredible performance that expertly blended comedic timing with the perfect amount of emotion.
50/50 is memorable for many reasons. It tells the kind of emotionally gripping story that sticks with you, the chemistry among the cast members is engaging, and Gordon-Levitt is just outstanding. His work was so good, he earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.