After appearing in the US sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun for most of his teenage years, Brick was one of Gordon-Levitt’s first leading roles. Blending the detective noir and high school genres, Rian Johnson’s film is a minor classic and Gordon-Levitt is great as Brendan, a social outcast who investigates his ex-girlfriend’s mysterious death. Combining a flair for hardboiled dialogue with a brooding intensity, the signs are there that Gordon-Levitt would go on to be not just a big star but a great actor as well.
2012 saw him reuniting with Rian Johnson for arguably one of the finest science-fiction movies of the last ten years. While Looper dives into all sorts of sci-fi tropes such as time-travel and alternate universes, it never neglects the emotional side of the story, and Gordon-Levitt capably sells the redemptive arc his character undergoes throughout the film. Despite wearing a silly prosthetic nose, his scenes with Emily Blunt’s hardened single mother are really rather touching, and provide a welcome respite from the whizz-bang, Bruce-Willis-shooting-everyone-in-the-face stuff.
500 Days of Summer (2009)
Far from the typical rom-com, (500) Days Of Summer showed that Gordon-Levitt is as comfortable with comedy as he is drama, making for a very likable romantic lead opposite Zooey Deschanel, who manages to transcend her usual ‘manic pixie dream girl’ status. The film’s non-linear structure and willingness to depict the darker side of a relationship is offset by both leads’ utterly charming performances, and although the film overstays its welcome just a tad, Gordon-Levitt’s charisma is enough to keep you engaged until the final (corny) gag.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
After taking part in that breathtaking zero-gravity fight scene in Inception, he reunited with director Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight Rises as John Blake, a rookie cop who serves as the moral centre of the film, persuading Bruce Wayne that he needs to don the Batsuit one last time to protect Gotham City. Gordon-Levitt manages to hold his own against acting heavyweights Christian Bale and Gary Oldman, proving he certainly has a bright future ahead for him.