Joseph Gordon-Levitt started his career as a child star in the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun and has never looked back, starring in such eclectic movies as The Lookout, 10 Things I Hate About You, Stop Loss and the soon to be released GI Joe.
In (500) Days of Summer he portrays Tom, a wannabe architect who is making a living writing cheesy greeting cards. When he meets Summer (Zooey Deschanel), his boss’s new secretary, he falls madly in love with her, and the idea of love. Their 500 day relationship is told out of context whizzing back and forth in time with split screens, fantasy sequences, adding up to a kaleidoscope of someone trying to make sense of love.
It’s an interesting concept to tell the story from the man’s point of view.
I liked that the story was written by two guys, and it’s directed by a guy and they were all completely unapologetic about the idea that this story is from our perspective. It doesn’t pretend to be an objective point of view. The entire story is completely subjective from Tom’s internal experience and it illuminates his experience of love. Love isn’t rational or logical or linear – and the film completely reflects that. It’s a heartfelt cinematic experience that’s hilarious but doesn’t pander. It manages to be an authentic story about love without taking itself too seriously.
What does Tom discover about love from Summer?
I think Tom always thought love was like what he saw in the movies or heard in pop songs. He has a lot of preconceived notions of what love should be, instead of really living in the present tense and paying attention to what’s actually happening between him and Summer, which he only sees later.
You worked with Zooey in the movie Manic, what was it like working on this with her?
It was great to do something so completely different with her and to have fun every day. 500 Days is so whimsical and dreamlike and sweet – and it’s easy to feel like that when you’re with Zooey
The director of the movie, Marc Webb, said that of all the actors who came in for the part, you were the most concerned about why they were making this film.
When Marc and I spoke, it became really clear that he was interested in telling an honest and genuine story about human beings as opposed to think plot devices. The movie that I didn’t want to be in was the one where it’s, ‘Oh, see, it’s a reversal. The girl’s like the guy and the guy’s like the girl, and all those rules still apply but it’s weird that’s it is reversed.’ That I didn’t want to be in! But I did want to be in something where here is one individual, here’s another individual and love is complicated, hilarious, sad and beautiful.
Can you talk about the fantasy dance number you do in the film?
Yeah, it was the best morning ever. I loved doing it so much. The movie is subjective. It’s more about how love feels from one person’s point of view than how it is objectively. I’ve been there and I imagine you have too. When you first get to be with this person that you’ve been infatuated with for a long time, when you’re walking home, maybe to an objective passerby, it may just look like you’re walking home with a smile on your face, but it feel like the world is dancing with you. It was tragic that Zooey wasn’t in my dance number.