The Badassification of Joseph Gordon-LevittSean Morrow

Once I saw a picture of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I decided I would just stop ever trying to be cool because I knew I would never best him. Yeah, that’s why I’m not cool, I stopped trying because of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That’s the story I’m gonna stick with.

And he is cool. I think he might be the coolest working actor at the moment, the heir apparent to Brando, maybe. JGL–as I often refer to him–is one of our greatest modern badasses. JGL embodies that very specific niche of cooldom called “badassocity,” the genre of cool that most dudes want to achieve. Sure, girls can be badass too, and often are, but most girls don’t have the burning desire to be badass that guys do. JGL is living the badass dream.

But he wasn’t always badass. He’s always been a talented actor, sure, and he’s been funny for awhile. And yeah, he’s been “OMG sooooo dreamy” for most of his career. But JGL is a gradual badass, kind of like a Pokemon who evolves from a kid who believes in angels to an awesome dream heistman.

I won’t go into the specific socio-cultural definition of badass, the meaning of what it is to be a true badass, or any analysis of what differentiates a badass from a regular cool person—I’ll save that for my thesis for my Ph.D in badass studies—this is just a simple timeline of the gradual rise from lovable goofball to badass of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And you can trust me because I theoretically have a future Ph.D in badass studies.

Let’s start off at his current apex of badass then go back in time to see the seeds in his past.

I am going to ignore the many fine small independent films JGL was in and focus on the big widely-viewed Hollywood stuff, just cover his most popular appearances, because it is mainstream cinema that sculpts our view of a performer in the canon. Yeah, that sounds good.

2012: “The Dark Knight Rises”: In this climactic series-ender JGL plays a Gotham City police officer. How badass do you have to be to be a cop in a city where there are criminal masterminds dressed as clowns (RIP!) running around, the mob runs everything, and a billionaire vigilante dressed as a bat is trying to do your job for you? That was a rhetorical question; the answer is very, very. Very, very badass.

2011: “50/50″: Oh, not that much, he just BEATS CANCER WITH HIS BARE HANDS. Badass.

2010: “Inception”: He gets in like a crazy upside down hallway fight. He is a memory thief mercenary. He chills hardcore with Leo. He’s also totally non-chalant about all the crazy things that happen, it could be because it’s a dream and not endangering him in real life, but its still pretty cool to go in someone’s dreams and get in a crazy battle then be like, “Whatever, I’ll just make out with Ellen Page now.” Badass.

2009 “(500) Days of Summer”: It’s hard to be badass in a romcom, but JGL pulls it off. Badasses can fall in love. In 500DOS, JGL feels nothing but love, lust, heartbreak, and despair. Of course, despair and heartbreak cause brooding, and brooding is badass. Therefore getting dumped is cool. Right?

  1 2Continue reading... →
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001159587183 Pelin Said Oh

    I really enjoy reading your posts – they are well-written, funny and make you seem very adorable!

    • Sean Morrow

      Hey thanks, that really means a lot!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1119263309 Jose Silva

    He is one of the most versatile actors right now, i remember when all talking marvelous things of others young actors and he working and great projects of independent films !!!
    When i saw him in this 3 movies Mysterious skin, Brick, Lookout !!! he is one of my top three favorite actor !!! in 500 days of summer when put in the computer please please let me get what i want and looking with that fool face looking summer was uffff great !!!! Thanks Joseph!!!Zooey and Marc Webber !!! for that movie!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=32703881 Rebecca Zinner

    Not only is he a badass, but he’s a wonderfully nice guy! I was at the shorts program at Sundance where Sparks premiered. There was a fair amount of press present, but after the Q&A, his first stop was to chat with my group of friends who had been sitting in the front row. After his directorial debut! He talked to us! Completely unexpected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1297644026 Niall Hicks

    How can his role in Heser not be mentioned in this article!?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1297644026 Niall Hicks

      *hesher

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1015329281 Maggiee Underwood

    I wish Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt would just get together already!I feel like them being together would just make the world a better place :]

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1784005858 Rena Fedorova

    I really love JGL and this article was amazing. Thanks for writing it. I absolutely LOVE this article :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1507707448 Melanie Magana

    Likey!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=559786673 Lauren Bressette

    Congradulation, you have written the best article I have ever read on HelloGiggles. I am now going to dedicate my day to watching Joseph Gordon Levitt movies and drawing pictures of our future children.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000542550963 Robert Remillard

    Sorry…he looks like Alfred E Neuman to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513730885 Laura Fred Michael

    Too bad he thinks only ugly girls can be funny….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=22608589 Kinsey Stout

    Love this. Let us not forget how fantastic he looks in a suit. Not everyone can pull that off without looking stuffy. The fact that he does all that crazy dream-fighting in Inception and still totally rocks the suit at the same time? It’s like Tom Ford meets super smart action hero. aka Badass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=201407297 Kathy Miranda

    Not only do I agree 100% with JGL being a total badass and extremely talented actor and often wonder why these great actors including Leonardo Decaprio do not get recognized to the fullest for their chameleon like abilities. Just the other day, I found a new movie to add to my JGL collection. JGL plays “Hersher”, A twisted, psychopathic and mean person. In the end the director did a good job in giving Hersher another side to his story, something more meaningful hidden behind all that satanic music and tattoos. Love love JGL and will continue to follow his films. Thanks for the good read!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000072075927 Kyisha Thompson

    I thought he was pretty badass in “A River Runs Through It”. That wise-beyond-his-years thing was on full display in his scenes. Totally badass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=607928195 Roop Saikia

    Connect with Facebook to post a comment

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000071364701 Laura Keeran

    This article is badass

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1221840022 Abigail Moss

    Mysterious Skin. Badass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9018747 Lindsay Ann

    JGL is super badass (and very attractive!!) He’s one of my all-time favorite actors – love this article! You forgot about G.I. Joe – he was super badass in that. From what I can recall, he gets burned up and turns into this evil guy. As you can tell, it wasn’t one of my favorite movies…mostly because it lacked a plot or character development.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536294117 Hamza Kilani

    Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher Hesher

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1122571172 Nichole Lynn Spencer

    You also forgot GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592764350 Brenda Gozel

    And, no forget ‘The Badass Walk”. He has, one of the most incredible gait. Maybe the perfect symmetry of his shoulders and hips, I don’t know… weird and lovely.

Need more Giggles?
Like us on Facebook!