Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday to Joseph Gordon-Levitt (and Me)

Over the last few years, with IMDb's "Born Today" feature on its home page and the rise of Wikipedia and its pages with lists of famous birthdays by date, it has become more common for everyone to discover with what famous people they have birthdays in common. My "group" includes some rather disappointing and embarrassing public figures, including director Michael Bay, "socialite" Paris Hilton and comedian Larry the Cable Guy. Perhaps the most notable famous person (to me) that I share a birthday with is the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is exactly five years older than me. (Actor Hal Holbrook and singer Billie Joe Armstrong are my runners-up.)

Through my own observations and conversations, I have noted that a lot of people find actors around their own age that they love as kids and, in a way, grow up alongside. For me, Gordon-Levitt also fits that bill. From his early parts as "Student #1" in Beethoven, "Young Norman" in A River Runs Through It and smaller roles on TV shows like "Quantum Leap" and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" through his early leading roles as a child actor in Angels in the Outfield and Holy Matrimony to his series regular role as Tommy Solomon on the TV show "3rd Rock from the Sun," he seemed to pop up in quite a few places throughout my childhood. As "3rd Rock" started to wrap up, Gordon-Levitt took on more film roles, including 10 Things I Hate About You and Manic. Going from 10 Things to Manic marked a transition from lighter, more comedic, supporting roles to darker, more dramatic, leading roles. His strong leading performances in Mysterious Skin, Brick, The Lookout and 500 Days of Summer have helped him slowly make a name for himself as one of the best actors of his generation.

In an arena (somewhat) outside of his acting career, Gordon-Levitt has also taken to the internet to start, which combines social networking and filmmaking to help create multi-layered and intensely original projects, or records, as they are referred to on the site. I first took notice of hitRECord shortly before 2009's 500 Days of Summer was released in theaters, but it's been around for about five years now, and was featured as an exhibition in the New Frontier section of the Sundance Film Festival a few weeks ago.

Gordon-Levitt will next be seen alongside Natalie Portman in the Sundance film Hesher and in director Christopher Nolan's Inception, which I previously noted as the film I'm most looking forward to in 2010. I hope he does a musical next or sometime in the near future, especially after the dance sequence in 500 Days of Summer, the Bank Dance video that accompanied the film and his enthusiastic performance of "Make 'Em Laugh" on a recent episode of "Saturday Night Live." Here's the dance sequence, set to the tune of Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True":


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