Born in Los Angeles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt grew up in front of the camera as a child and teen actor. Winning his first major role at age seven in the TV movie Stranger on My Land (1988), Gordon-Levitt appeared in a number of TV movies and series during the late '80s and early '90s, including a recurring role on the hit sitcom Roseanne from 1993 to 1995. After making his feature film debut as the young version of Craig Sheffer in A River Runs Through It (1992), the young actor garnered further notice as the boy whose prayers are answered in the sleeper Angels in the Outfield (1994) and as Demi Moore's son in The Juror (1996). Gordon-Levitt achieved considerable TV fame, though, when he was cast in NBC's critical and popular hit Third Rock From the Sun (1996-present). As old/young alien Tommy Solomon, he cracked wise with multiple Emmy-winner John Lithgow and attracted teen fans. Making the most of the late-'90s teen movie resurgence during the series' hiatuses, Gordon-Levitt appeared in the teen slasher sequel Halloween: H20 (1998) and starred as one of the romantic schemers in the popular Shakespeare-via-high school comedy 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). After voicing the lead in the expensive animated flop Treasure Planet, Levitt made a conscious decision to shed his TV image. He appeared in a series of challenging indie films including Mysterious Skin, Brick, and The Lookout, and succeeded in redefining his public image. He appeared in Spike Lee's Miracle At St. Anna and the Iraq War drama Stop-Loss in 2008. The next year he starred in the big-budget action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but earned better reviews and more respect as the lead in the hit indie romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer. He was cast opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception the next year, and earned arguably the best reviews of his career in 2011 when he starred in the cancer comedy 50/50 as a young man learning to cope with an unexpected, and possibly lethal, illness. He would team with director Chriotpher Nolan again in 2012 as part of the cast in The Dark Knight Rises, and Steven Spielberg cast him as Robert Todd in the director's long gestating biopic Lincoln. Levitt made his feature-length directorial debut in 2013, with Don Jon, which he also wrote and starred in.
Biography by Lucia Bozzola
- As a child actor, appeared in commercials for Pop Tarts and Cocoa Puffs cereal.
- Studied literature and French poetry while at Columbia University.
- Launched HitRecord in 2005 with his brother Dan Gordon-Levitt; in 2010, the site opened for artists to collaborate with each other.
- Directed his first short film, Sparks, in 2009; the film was selected for the short film program at the Sundance Film Festival.
- Was a producer of the 2009 show Slava's Snowshow, which had a run on Broadway.