After growing up in Los Angeles -- he's been acting since he was six or seven -- Gordon-Levitt said he still isn't sure acting is what he wants to do when he grows up.
``It might be. I don't know. I'm only 13,'' he said. ``You never know. I could wake up tomorrow and say, `Wow! I want to be an astronaut!'''
When he isn't working on movies, he likes inline skating, fooling around with computers, playing Dungeons & Dragons and reading fantasy novels.
Though technology constantly influences art for change, Gordon-Levitt said he appreciates all art, for the creative spirit is as old as time.
But Gordon-Levitt also has an itch for progress, pushing media arts forward as a participatory action for all people rather than an observable entity for the elite.
"What happened to the music industry is happening to film, whether we like it or not," Gordon-Levitt said. "My goal is to break down those previous barriers and open it (media art) up as something anyone can participate in."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s star turns in “50/50” and “Inception” may have overshadowed the recent success of his online passion project, hitRECord.org. The Web site invites artists from all walks of life to collaborate with the actor, resulting in music, short films and, now, a picture book called “The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories” ($15).
He earned, he said, "about half a bachelor's (degree)" in French literature before deciding that brushing up on Final Cut Pro, a film-editing software program, was ultimately a better way to spend his time than going to class.
Living in New York - "a real city where people are on top of each other," he said - made him more aware and keyed up to create art with others.
In an abortive attempt to pull a Natalie Portman a few years ago, the actor entered Columbia University but left without finishing. Fascinated by words, Gordon-Levitt says he'd like to study the tradition of the African griots, or oral storytellers, in Dakar, Senegal.
Such uncommon seriousness might be why Gordon-Levitt has so far managed to avoid getting stuck in the teen-fluff ghetto that has swallowed up so many of his Hollywood peers -- "10 Things I Hate About You" and "Halloween H20" notwithstanding.
Gordon-Levitt, 29, grew up in Sherman Oaks and, from age 15 to 20, in front of America, thanks to "3rd Rock From the Sun," the loopy alien sitcom that ran for six seasons. With considerable trepidation, he left the cast and acting to pursue studies at Columbia University. The time in New York propelled him back toward acting in 2004 with a resolve to work only in high-quality and indie fare.
He's leading actioner "Premium Rush," he's got a key, still-top-secret part in "The Dark Knight Rises," he's reunited with Rian Johnson for sci-fi "Looper," and he'll crop up among the ensemble cast of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." All that, and he's got his collaborative wet project hitRECord, and he's looking to get underway on his directorial debut, "Don Jon's Addiction," with Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore, very shortly.
And “(500) Days” finds just the right scale and tone, neither trivializing nor melodramatically overstating the delicate feelings it explores.
Some of the credibility that Mr. Webb’s movie establishes right away comes from its unassuming and appealing stars, Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. With his crooked smile, reedy physique and improbably deep voice, Mr. Gordon-Levitt camouflages his magnetism with diffidence, much as Ms. Deschanel uses her slightly spacey, vaguely melancholy affect to magnify the charm she is pretending to disguise.
A true child of Hollywood, Gordon-Levitt was born in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles to liberal parents who had met while working at a progressive local radio station. He has been acting on television and in movies since he was six years old and, having survived his teenage years on the top-rated comedy 3rd Rock From the Sun, he successfully reinvented himself as an adult actor in a string of critically acclaimed independent features such as Mysterious Skin, Brick and 500 Days of Summer.
He's like James Franco, if James Franco weren't so weird. And like Franco, JGL is an indie-identified actor who's doing a lot of un-indie films: next year he's cast alongside Bruce Willis in the time-travel thriller Looper, as a cop in The Dark Knight Rises and as the President's son in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.