Joseph Gordon-Levitt: 'I've Chosen You to be My Esoteric Interview For the Day'


It might be unreasonable to suggest that any actor can have a career year at 28, but you can't say 2009 wasn't a whopper for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In addition to his spunky anti-romcom hit (500) Days of Summer and presence in the tentpole G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, he won a role in Christopher Nolan's mega-anticipated Inception, will host Saturday Night Live this weekend, and saw his tiny indie Uncertainty break $12,000 on one screen over the weekend in New York. The film tracks Bobby (Gordon-Levitt) and Kate (Lynn Collins), young lovers at odds over what to do for the Fourth of July. So they flip a coin, commencing a wild riff on identity, family, NYC culture and genre as one version of the couple spends the holiday evading gangsters in Manhattan, and the other visits an awkward family gathering in Brooklyn.

The latest twisty suspense narrative from directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel (Suture, The Deep End), Uncertainty frames Gordon-Levitt in a refreshingly gritty complement to his other 2009 hits (for those outside New York, it's presently available for download via IFC on Demand). The actor spoke to Movieline about the movie's metaphysics and mindf*ckery, why he loves an underdog and just how nervous he is about his forthcoming SNL gig.

So help me understand Uncertainty a little better. Do you think this dual-existence thing is a regular pastime for these characters, or just a way to spend this particular Fourth of July?

That's a funny way to phrase it. I think the dual existence thing is a regular pastime for all human beings, and for that matter anything in this universe.

So these are two stories actually taking place at once? Or is one imagined and the other real, it's just up to us to determine which is which?

My personal belief is that everything is always happening all at once.

Really? Who else is interviewing you right now?

You are, but you're a redhead.

Ah ha. So what intrigued you about making a movie about this concept?

Well, look -- I love a good love story, and this, to me, is one of the most in depth and honest stories about love between two people that I've personally had the chance to act in. Lynn is a fabulous actress, and the process of Uncertainty itself is just based on improvisation and emotional authenticity as opposed to technical precision. You know, hitting your marks and saying your lines. I think it really allowed us to push the envelope of playing with those feelings of love. So... yeah. It makes for a good date movie.

(500) Days of Summer took an equally radical approach to a narrative about a relationship. What specifically were you trying to say or express about love in these films?

It's the whole of it, really. The juxtaposition. Isn't that how love is? It's never only one thing. For me, my emotional state can go from one pole to another in the span of no time at all. I think that's kind of what Uncertainty is about. I mean, movies in general tend to sort of portray time, space and identity as these very solid things. Time moves forward. Space is what it is. You are you, and you're always you. These are all useful concepts if what you're trying to do is go down to the grocery store and get a gallon of milk. I guess I'm getting far out, but what I look for in a movie is something that will fuck with my mind and unrest some of those stable building blocks that make up my consciousness. I think Uncertainty does that -- it plays with those notions of time and space, and who are you? Are you sure you're not other things, too? Yes, this seems to be happening right now, but what else is happening?

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