Joseph Gordon-Levitt: The gay interview

DON JON ADDICTION

Who doesn’t see Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the “perfect man?” Well, the one man who knows him best: Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

After playing a gay hustler in Mysterious Skin, a Mormon homophobe in Latter Days and Batman’s cool sidekick in The Dark Knight Rises, the actor takes on a porn-obsessed womanizer in his latest film Don Jon, a sex comedy he wrote, directed and stars in that contends there’s more to a person than meets the eye. 

Surely, plenty of Gordon-Levitt meets the eye in Don Jon: that chest, those arms and all the near nakedness of the New Jersey lothario he plays. Yeah, it’s easy to see why people might think he’s pretty perfect.

In our interview with Chris Azzopardi, Gordon-Levitt discusses the dangers of believing he’s the ideal mate, contributing to the gay rights movement and what he’s really doing during those masturbation scenes in Don Jon.

Note: Don Jon opens today, and Saturday at the AMC North Park theater will be “gay night,” with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. and show at 7:45 p.m.

Dallas Voice: Let’s talk about this intense, seductive look on your face during those masturbation scenes. What were you actually thinking about? And were you really watching porn?  JGL: Nah, I wasn’t really looking at porn. But I was pretending I was looking at porn.

I’ve never pretended to watch porn.  I have now!

There’s a bit of sex in the movie — and you’re always the one having it. How do you direct yourself in a sex scene?  See, the sex scenes — with one exception — are very, very highly stylized and are not so much scenes that play out in real time; they’re more like narrated storybook versions of a look inside the mind of this guy, and so shooting them is like putting together a puzzle. They’re made of lots of little pieces. When you put the puzzle together it seems like a sex scene, but when you’re shooting it, it’s not like that at all.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Potty mouths

Bad behavior gets rewarded — in different ways — in ‘Hesher’ and ‘Bridesmaids’

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JESUS, JOSEPH | Gordon-Levitt shirtless is a settling point of the dark comedy ‘Hersher.’

Fans of the F-word will hear as much of it dropped in Hesher and Bridesmaids — as in a five-minute conversation with the average teenager. It’s mostly spoken by men (especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in Hesher and by women in Bridesmaids, where producer Judd Apatow tries to show us that chicks can be as potty-mouthed as the dudes in his other movies.

Hesher (Gordon-Levitt) is kind of a guardian devil who follows adolescent T.J. (Devin Brochu) home and moves into his garage uninvited. T.J., his father (Rainn Wilson) and grandmother (Piper Laurie) are dealing with the death of T.J.’s mother two months before. Dad’s depression has made him a vegetable and granny does what she can with her failing health.

T.J. is also dealing with a bully at school — not because of his perceived orientation, just because the bully’s an asshole. He’s rescued from a fight by Nicole (Natalie Portman, who really needs to make more movies — we never see her anymore), a supermarket checker who is later helped out of a bad situation by Hesher.

All you really need to know about Hesher is that Gordon-Levitt goes through most of it without a shirt on, even though he has scruffy Jesus hair, chain-smokes and wreaks havoc (sometimes with positive results) wherever he goes. If you need more, it’s an off-the-wall dark comedy that bodes well for first-feature director and co-writer Spencer Susser, with a strong cast doing good work.

Hesher could be called a feel-good movie about grief, and it makes about as much sense as that description, but don’t let that scare you away.

Bridesmaids, by contrast, is more run-of-the-mill, a series of sketches with the same characters, moving toward a wedding. Maya Rudolph plays Lillian, the bride-to-be, but the main character is her maid of honor, Annie (Apatow veteran Kristen Wiig, who also co-wrote the screenplay). Wiig is great at self-deprecating humor, humiliating herself in one situation after another, but eventually you may start to feel as I did that Annie doesn’t deserve anything better from life than she’s getting.

Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), acting dykey though not lesbian, steals scene after scene until she just about steals the movie. Rose Byrne is good as Annie’s nemesis and Chris O’Dowd provides welcome masculine relief as a hot cop who brings romantic potential into Annie’s life. Jon Hamm gets shirtless in an uncredited minor role and Matt Lucas, the gay half of Little Britain, plays one of Annie’s abusive roommates. Ho-hum.

You’ve seen just about everything in Bridesmaids before, but now it has more bathroom and bedroom humor.
— Steve Warren

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas