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Q&A: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Talks Writing & Directing Don Jon

Joseph Gordon Levitt

As if Joseph Gordon-Levitt hadn’t already proven he was talented, the actor is now able to add writer and director to his resume with the upcoming film Don Jon (which, by the way, he also stars in). We caught up with the 32-year-old about what it was like to take the leap into a behind-the-scenes role.

What was the hardest part of writing a movie?

The very beginning. Anybody is going to be confronted by those voices in their head that say, “Someone else can do this better. You should probably just quit.” I certainly did. The only reason I did finish the script is because I was having a lot of fun doing it.

You also directed. Did you take inspiration from your old bosses?

I was really fortunate. In the year before shooting Don Jon, I worked with three extraordinary filmmakers: Rian Johnson (Looper), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises), and Steven Spielberg (Lincoln). One thing they have in common is the ability to balance a plan with a sense of spontaneity. If you’re too married to your plan, you’ll end up making something kind of stale.

Don Jon definitely isn’t stale. What statement were you trying to make with the movie?

It’s a movie about how we cna have unrealistic expectations of each other and how the media can contribute to that. As an actor, I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I wish my life was like it was in that movie.” When I hear that I get startled, because real life is not as simple as it is on screen. We wanted to poke fun at comparing your real life to these expectations.

The film, which also stars Scarlett Johansson, tells the story of a New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends and church, but develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn. Once he meats the girl of his dreams, though, he has to work on kicking his porn habit while she helps to change him.

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