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Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Most Memorable Roles

by Kevin Marshall   April 09, 2013 at 12:00AM  |  Views: 2,708
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This week All Access Weekly talked to Joseph Gordon-Levitt about his new film, Don Jon. It's the first he's written and directed, which is quite an accomplishment for someone so young.

But he's also the star, which means we get another solid performance far removed from the days when he was the hormonal, girl-crazy teenaged alien on the absurd NBC sitcom "Third Rock From the Sun." His turn as "Don Jon" Martello is yet another in a long line of memorable roles he's had over the years.

Here are a few that stand out in our minds as the most iconic and impressive.

Neil McCormick in "Mysterious Skin"

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One of the grittiest and most disturbing films in recent memory. It's a challenging and brutally honest look at child abuse, and JGL's turn as one of the victims who eventually becomes a prostitute is at times both heartbreaking and disturbing. It's one of the most underseen films out there, although your mileage may vary depending on how comfortable you are with the subject matter and/or if there's anything in it that might trigger something.

Tom Hansen in "500 Days of Summer"

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This movie came out at the perfect time, when the romantic ideal for heterosexual men in movies was shifting from the physically perfect girl-next-door/tomboy to the "manic pixie dream girl" (a phrase coined by the brilliant film critic Nathan Rabin). The label may be unfair in this case, but it stuck, and it helped to make the film a hit. What also helped were some really forthright performances from Zooey Deschanel and JGL, through whom we see and live the relationship in a non-linear manner as it falls apart.

Cobra Commander in "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" and "G.I. Joe: Retaliation"

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The first film really wasn't all THAT bad...until the third act, when Cobra Commander reveals his plan and personal history step by step. Some things are better left unexplained, because otherwise they just become more confounding. You can't blame JGL for trying, though, and how cool is it for guys of our generation to say we played Cobra Commander?

Brendan Frye in "Brick"

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The premise of a noir mystery set in a high school setting is goofy as all get out, but the execution in this movie is flawless. JGL is the private detective (so to speak), guiding us through the story with an attempt at cold detachment that belies just how emotionally invested he is in everything and everyone around him.

John Blake in "The Dark Knight Rises"

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I did groan - literally - when they revealed his real first name at the end of the film, but liked the idea that his character would be the heir apparent to the Batman mantle. It's a great moment in the film and Blake's character was the best way to give a nod to the Robin mythos without having this (really only sort of) grounded version of Batman put a teenager in peril. Don't look for a sequel or for JGL to reprise the role in a Justice League movie. Neither's going to happen. Maybe that's better, in that it's best left to our imaginations where he goes from here. Even in that sense, JGL got to be Batman, which is pretty cool.

Are there any you love that we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments! But don't bother mentioning "Angels in the Outfield" - we didn't forget it. In fact, we talked about it with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tony Danza on this week's episode of All Access Weekly. Take a look.

SXSW 2013: Don Jon And Airbnb - Episode 216
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