Joseph Gordon-Levitt biography

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Quick Facts

Best Known For

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.


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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,


"Fame has always been a downside to acting for me. It gives me the creeps."

– Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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.

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 Tom, a young man who learns that he has cancer.

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