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Category: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Emily Blunt: I didn't recognize Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 'Looper'

May 2, 2012 | 11:30 am

Emily Blunt stars in Looper
Emily Blunt had a misfire at the box office last weekend with "The Five-Year Engagement," but one of her upcoming films seems destined for a greater fate at the multiplex.

"Looper," Rian Johnson's sci-fi action flick starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hitman living in the future, has been creating buzz among fanboys for months. In the film, out in September, Gordon-Levitt comes face-to-face with an older version of himself, played by Bruce Willis. Creating a physical resemblance between the two actors meant Gordon-Levitt had to spend three hours daily in a make-up chair -- and the ultimate look was so jarring that Blunt barely recognized her co-star upon first meeting him.

"When I first arrived, everyone asked me if I wanted to go meet Joe in his trailer -- and I go in, and it's kind of dark, and I didn't know he was in prosthetics," recalled the actress, who plays a single mother who gets caught up between the two men in the picture. "So I was talking to him for about a half an hour, and I couldn't work out why I didn't recognize him. He almost looked like he'd been stung by an insect and had some kind of allergic reaction."

Fearing she'd gone into the trailer of the actor's stunt double, Blunt exited the trailer. Shortly afterward, a crew member asked her what she thought of Gordon-Levitt's makeover and she finally understood the situation.

"It is uncanny how much he looks like Bruce. It wasn't just the voice -- it's the facial expressions, with that squinting," she said. "The movie is thrillingly different and weird. I think it's the coolest film I've ever been a part of."

Director Johnson said Blunt underwent physical changes of her own for the movie, dying her hair and tanning her otherwise pale skin.

“Joe’s transformation is much more obvious because he has makeup on his face, but Emily has just as major of a transformation -- from her American accent to the person she’s creating,” Johnson said. “The fact that the marketing is focusing more on the action stuff -- that really excites me, because Emily is in some ways the heart of the movie. The movie really turns on her character and her dilemma.”


Blunt approach to film? Be real

'Looper:' Playing a younger Willis

‘Looper’ trailer: Joseph Gordon-Levitt completes time-travel circle

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Emily Blunt stars in "Looper." Credit: Sony Pictures

Golden Globes: Seth Rogen is ready for Ricky Gervais

December 15, 2011 |  9:09 am

50_50_seth rogen

"50/50," Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's buddy cancer comedy, has a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes but did only a modest $34 million at the box office this fall. Now, though, Rogen and Gordon-Levitt are getting some awards recognition -- the film landed two Golden Globe nominations Thursday. Gordon-Levitt was nominated for best actor in a musical or comedy, while the film itself (which Rogen produced as well as co-stars in), got a nod in the best picture (musical or comedy) category.

Rogen says he's looking forward to the show and is braced for any jokes Ricky Gervais may throw his way. Here's what he had to say about it all Thursday morning:

On how he heard the news:

I was phoned by my publicist on my home phone, which woke me up, because no one ever calls that. For a split second I thought someone I know might be dead, and then I remembered that today was the Golden Globe nominations and that maybe I was getting called for that.

His initial reaction:

I was very happy, it’s awesome. After never getting nominated for anything, it’s much nicer to get nominated for stuff. And honestly, I think it will help more people be aware of the movie, which to me is one of the most important things. I think that Will [Reiser] did a pretty amazing thing by even writing this movie, so it’s really nice that people seem to like it.

I was very pleased with and proud of the movie before this happened, but it’s obviously really nice when anyone recognizes what you’ve done. Believe me, I’ve done stuff that people hate, so whenever that doesn’t happen, I’m … psyched.

Thoughts on Ricky Gervais and the ceremony:

I think Ricky Gervais is funny. I’m not actually nominated [for a performance], so maybe I won’t get insulted horribly. But if he chooses to do it, then I’m game for that.

I only went to the Golden Globes once, a few years ago. It’s pretty fun. I remember being shocked at how few people actually seem to be paying attention to the show. You can watch it a lot easier on TV. But I did get drunk with Laurence Fishburne, so that was fun.

What he’s working on now:

Nothing that is officially tellable at this moment in time. As of now, I am actually technically unemployed.


Golden Globes: The complete list of nominees

Golden Globes: Cable shows dominate TV nominations

More coverage of the Golden Globes and SAG nominations

-- Oliver Gettell

Photo: Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50." Credit: Summit Entertainment

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in '50/50': Betsy Sharkey's film pick

October 19, 2011 |  1:10 pm

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has such natural ease as an actor that it’s easy to forget just how talented he is. That’s going to be harder to do after “50/50,” a film he carries, even with a fine ensemble cast that includes Anna Kendrick as his therapist and Seth Rogen as his noisy and nosy best friend.

Directed by Jonathan Levine, using a light touch with Will Reiser's screenplay, the story hangs on Gordon-Levitt's 27-year-old Adam finding out he has spinal cancer. His odds -- 50/50 -- give the film its name. The actor turns Adam into a living, breathing human of the sort whom you might actually meet –- not looking for pity, just trying to cope -– in emotional and physical terrain that is funny and touching in equal measure.

The role showcases the strength of the 30-year-old actor who has been working nonstop since he was 7: that keen ability to capture a character's humanity seen in countless performances. It’s what made him so charming, falling in and out of love in “(500) Days of Summer,” so cool as the kid in TV's “3rd Rock From the Sun.” Even as a crazy grifter who moves in and won't leave in the recent indie “Hesher,” he makes the insanity appealing enough that you don't mind if he stays for a while.

But with “50/50,” Gordon-Levitt reaches a new depth, giving real life to the prospect of death.



Movie review: '50/50'

Jonah Hill in 'Moneyball': Betsy Sharkey's pick of the week

Albert Brooks in 'Drive': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

-– Betsy Sharkey

Photo: Anna Kendrick and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50." Credit: Chris Helcermanas-Benge / Summit Entertainment

Why didn't Seth Rogen's '50/50' perform better this weekend?

October 3, 2011 | 10:48 am


By most standards, the people who publicized and marketed the Seth Rogen-Joseph Gordon-Levitt  dramatic comedy "50/50" seemed to have a well-thought-out strategy. They made sure the press, always crucial on a tweener film, got to see the movie early and often. And marketing materials concealed some of the more difficult illness elements that could turn off the Saturday-night date crowd.

Yet the movie was a disappointment this weekend, failing to take in even $9 million on nearly 2,500  screens.

Were there, in fact, things that studio Summit Entertainment should have done differently? Or was a comedy about cancer always headed to the land of the niche?

The answer may be a little bit of both.

The road was certainly sloped against the film. Comedies about serious subjects, from "Arthur" to "Larry Crowne," have bombed in recent months, and this one's about perhaps the most serious subject of all.

But Summit might also have embraced the tearjerker elements a bit more more than  the buddy-comedy angles, since the audience that comes out to a Rogen movie was going to smell something different anyway. (And it's not that the audience was that large in the first place -- see under "The Green Hornet" and "Observe and Report.")

Instead, Summit changed the title to its generic, percentage-heavy "50/50" from its former moniker, "I'm With Cancer." Posters showed Gordon-Levitt shaving is head in a way that you never would have connected to chemotherapy if you didn't already know it.

The movie could have also gone (and indeed may yet go) a more prestige route, playing on how it's a beloved critical choice (93% on Rotten Tomatoes, well above an upscale play such as "The Ides of March"). Emphasizing the quality of the film above more topically relevant moments worked for a similarly  heartfelt comedy, "Up in the Air," two years ago; there's little reason it couldn't work to at least a certain extent in this Anna Kendrick vehicle too.

In the spirit of the film's message, all hope isn't lost. It's already been a weird season, when movies gain a head of steam a week or more after they open; "Dolphin Tale" won the weekend despite coming in third on its opening weekend.  And "50/50" is a  movie that nearly everyone who sees likes, judging by the reaction of many of our journalist colleagues and the film's A- CinemaScore.

A cancer comedy was always going to be a word-of-mouth play. The question after this weekend will be whether there are enough mouths to spread that word.


'Dolphin Tale,' holdovers beat new films

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: '50/50' is a great title

Movie review: '50/50'

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Anna Kendrick and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50." Credit: Summit Entertainment

The week in film: '50/50,' 'Margaret' and 'What's Your Number?' (video)

September 30, 2011 |  4:02 pm


The new cancer comedy "50/50" from Summit Entertainment has required the distributor to walk a fine line when it comes to communicating the fairly sober plot of the film -- which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the inspired-by-life story of screenwriter Will Reiser, who was diagnosed the disease at a young age -- with its uplifting spirit. Indie movie specialist Fox Searchlight has faced an arguably more fraught situation with the release of "Margaret," a film from the Oscar-nominated Kenneth Lonergan that's taken six years to debut. Fox enters the box-office fray this weekend with "What's Your Number?" a more conventional romantic comedy starring Anna Faris and "Captain America's" Chris Evans; will the success of the summer's breakout hit "Bridesmaids" bolster its commercial prospects?

Watch Los Angeles Times reporters Rebecca Keegan and Nicole Sperling discuss the latest happenings in Hollywood.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt: "50/50" is a great movie title

After six years "Margaret" finally arrives in theaters

The "Bridesmaids" ripple effect: female filmmakers are swearing by the film's success

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Writer Will Reiser and actor Seth Rogen on the set of "50/50" Credit: Chris Helcermanas-Benge / Summit Entertainment


'50/50' overcomes the odds for many critics

September 30, 2011 |  2:33 pm

Bryce Dallas Howard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a scene from '50/50'
Cancer is no laughing matter — except, apparently, in the new comedy "50/50," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young man diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer (the title refers to his chances of survival) and Seth Rogen as his wisecracking, big-hearted best friend. The film, which was inspired by screenwriter Will Reiser's personal experiences, is finding favor with most critics.

The Times' Kenneth Turan writes that "'50/50' walks a very tricky line. As a comedy about a young man with cancer, it needs to be serious enough to be real as well as light enough to be funny. Though it falls off the wagon at times, it maintains its balance remarkably well." Turan credits Jonathan Levine's artful direction and an expertly assembled cast (with a nod to Francine Maisler, who also cast "Moneyball"), and says that "the key element in '50/50' is the screenplay by Will Reiser, a young writer who, as has been widely reported, was inspired by his own experience as a twentysomething diagnosed with a rare type of cancer."

Continue reading »

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: '50/50' is a great movie title

September 29, 2011 | 10:47 am


"50/50" is a buddy comedy about cancer, but you wouldn't know it from the title. And that's on purpose. The executives at Summit Entertainment changed the original title of Will Reiser's script "I'm With Cancer" in an effort to not alienate audiences from the film's tough subject matter.

In fact, if you didn't know ahead of time that the film was a cancer movie, you might not be more informed after taking a look at the poster. Sure, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is shaving his head, but it's not exactly clear why. And the tag line "It takes a pair to beat the odds" conjures up ideas of gambling. Add in Seth Rogen in the background, and you'd think Gordon-Levitt lost a bet--not that he's shaving his head in preparation for this upcoming chemotherapy treatment.

The studio grappled with other titles for the comedy, which is generating positive reviews ahead of its release on Friday. "Get Well Soon" was discussed as one possible alternative. But "50/50," according to star Gordon-Levitt, is a perfect title. Said the 30-year old actor, "I like the title '50/50' so much better then 'I’m With Cancer.'

"Before the movie was titled that, my mind kept coming back to the idea of what if someone told me I had a 50% chance of dying," the actor said during a recent interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. "I would be thinking about coin flips all the time. I also like it because the phrase '50/50' invokes a relationship and that’s what the movie is really about, much more so than cancer.

He continued: "Yes, the story is about a guy who has cancer but it’s really about the relationships he has in his life: his friend, his mom, how he’s dealing with women. That’s really the heart and soul of the movie."

To hear more from Gordon-Levitt, read this interview with the actor, who's currently at work filming Christopher Nolan's upcoming Batman sequel, "The Dark Knight Rises."


Toronto 2011: Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns emcee

Will Reiser and writing about what you know: getting cancer

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: Anna Kendrick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen in "50/50." Credit: Ed Araquel/Summit Entertainment


Toronto 2011: Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns emcee

September 13, 2011 |  4:24 pm

Joseph gordon levitt

It's not often you walk into a theater and hear the announcer say, "Please turn ON all your recording devices." But that was exactly what happened Monday night during "hitRECord," Joseph Gordon-Levitt's live show at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the actor showed off his moonlighting career as director, producer and curator of the site hitRECord.org.

Gordon-Levitt is a complicated man. At once, the 30-year-old is a veteran actor of both the small and big screen and in recent years he has elevated his craft from former-television-kid star ("3rd Rock From the Sun") to acclaimed actor, working with directors including Christopher Nolan (on "Inception" and "The Dark Knight Rises," which is filming now). He just signed on to costar in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" and is getting high marks for his upcoming feature "50/50," in which he plays a cancer patient opposite Seth Rogen. The film premiered Monday in Toronto.

A subdued "regular Joe" in interviews, Gordon-Levitt turns into a modern-day P.T. Barnum when he jumps onto a live stage, as he did Monday night at his hitRECord event. His online production company makes different forms of art through a collaborative process that seems intended to poke a stick at the traditional corporate Hollywood system in a quaint yet subversive way.

Fittingly, the first video Gordon-Levitt showed was a short movie, a period piece featuring himself and Channing Tatum adorned in circus garb and speaking with an exaggerated, over-the-top vocabulary. Check out the video here.

Gordon-Levitt holds such shows randomly across the country, premiering footage that's been assembled from his collaborative website — little poems, short films, music videos. He also gets the audience involved, bringing them on-stage to narrate brief stories that could later be featured in an anthology.

One story was about a sugar cube melting in a cup of tea. Levitt gave his narrator, a random audience member, specific direction: "You've seen 'The Wizard of Oz,' right? Your 'melting' should sound shrill, like you're dying in the cup of tea." 

Gordon-Levitt often lures his big screen costars to his shows. Anne Hathaway, his "Dark Knight Rises" costar, attended a hitRECord show in New York, where she talked about how much she loves to cry in a dark theater. On Monday night, Rogen appeared in a video with "50/50" screenwriter Will Reiser, who also participated live, encouraging hitRECord audience members to submit videos about turning tragedy into comedy. Anna Kendrick, Levitt's other "50/50" costar, did a live reading on-stage, an adolescent love story gone bad.

The crowd loved the irreverent videos and stories, with the majority of them filming the event as it took place. Levitt could be on to something. He's definitely seizing the zeitgeist with his social media project, and the primarily under-30 audience seemed to be digging the results. And there's more to come: He's just published his first anthology of the work from hitRECord and has landed a book deal from Harper Collins for more.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, media mogul, might be his next title.


Films big and small head to Toronto film festival

Will Reiser and writing what you know: getting cancer

Toronto 2011: Seth Rogen cancer comedy '50/50' earns standing ovation

— Nicole Sperling in Toronto

Photo: Joseph Gordon-Levitt leads "hitRECord at the Movies With Joseph Gordon-Levitt" at the Toronto International Film Festival. Credit: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images.


Films big and small head to Toronto festival in search of buzz

September 7, 2011 |  2:41 pm

'50/50' with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon Levitt

Known for crowd-pleasing, commercial Hollywood comedies, Seth Rogen has never been to the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. This week, though, America's stoner-in-chief will be heading to the cinematic gathering in his native Canada and rubbing elbows with Oscar mainstays like George Clooney and Brad Pitt to promote “50/50,” a buddy film he produced and stars in about a young man who's diagnosed with cancer.

If Rogen's first Toronto appearance is evidence of the actor's movement toward somewhat more mature fare, it is also testament to the festival's unique role as a critical platform for introducing somewhat challenging or genre-busting films to a wide, mainstream audience heading into the busy fall movie season.

Photos: 2011 Toronto Film Festival lineup's pluses and minusesAlthough it comes right on the heels of film festivals in Telluride, Colo., and Venice, Italy, Toronto — which kicks off Thursday — is much bigger both in terms of the number of films (about 300) and the media exposure. Reaction from the press, and the public, during the 11-day event goes a long way toward determining many movies' fate in terms of commercial success and critical recognition.

Last year, for instance, “The King's Speech” and “Black Swan” received important boosts at the festival, helping both to achieve Oscar and box-office glory.

“50/50,” which premieres Monday at Toronto and which Summit Entertainment will open in U.S. theaters on Sept. 30, is based on the story of Rogen's friend Will Reiser, who wrote the script. The movie stars Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but Rogen's description of the film in an interview — “a buddy comedy about some young dude who has cancer” — explains perfectly why it needs the good buzz of a festival to have a shot at the box office.

“Will got sick six years ago and initially we started talking about making some kind of movie about it,” Rogen said. “But at that point we didn't have any context on it. It wasn't until he got better that we could see it was a story.”

Of course, veterans like Clooney and Pitt will be at the glitzy festival too. Clooney stars in two films showing at Toronto, the dramatic comedy “The Descendants” and the political drama “The Ides of March” (which he also directed). Pitt takes the wraps off “Moneyball,” the featurized version of Michael Lewis' book about Oakland A's general manager Bill Beane.

Good buzz at Toronto, though, isn't a sure sign of Oscar success. Two years ago, Jason Reitman's “Up in the Air” rode out of town as the unquestionable best-picture favorite but was eventually shut out at the Academy Awards.

Many films that come to Toronto require a more nuanced sell than what can be achieved with a 30-second television commercial. That's the case with “Moneyball.” Despite a predominantly male cast and a plot set in the world of baseball scouting and statistics, the studio is trying aggressively to market the film to women and non-baseball fans.

There are many other such films with big names attached that are looking to break out, including David Cronenberg's “A Dangerous Method,” about the lives of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, as well as Madonna's time-jumping romance, “W.E.” Then there are dozens of below-the-radar movies looking to connect, including a feel-good youth-ballet documentary called “First Position” and a horror film inflected with Cuban politics, “Juan of the Dead.”


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'50/50' filmmakers Seth Rogen and Will Reiser book a new trip

July 6, 2011 |  3:57 pm

Rogen The trailer for "50/50," a dramatic comedy about a young man's bout with cancer, is drawing warm notices ahead of its release this fall. Now the principals say they will reunite on a new film.

"50/50" director Jonathan Levine, writer Will Reiser and producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are teaming up for a comedy titled "Jamaica," about a teenage boy's trip with his grandmother to the Caribbean island. Like "50/50," the project will draw from Reiser's own experience.

The film, which was conceived by Reiser, will be financed and produced by Mandate Pictures; the company, which served in the same capacity on "50/50," also counts young-skewing hits such as "Juno" among its credits.

Rogen, who stars in "50" alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is not on board to star in "Jamaica" at this point.

The parties announced the new film in a statement Wednesday. While they did not provide further plot details, Reiser did call the movie a "story that I've long wanted to tell."


With their new movie, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen make it a '50/50' proposition [Trailer]

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Seth Rogen in Los Angeles on May 22. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images


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