Joseph Gordon-Levitt talks casting, ‘Don Jon’

Film Review Don Jon_Kram-1.jpg
This film image shows Joseph Gordon-Levitt, left, and Scarlett Johansson in a scene from “Don Jon.” (Courtesy of AP)” height=”200

 

With slicked back hair, chiseled arms and a smirk that makes mothers blush, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the Don.

“Don Jon” that is.

For the first time in the entertainer’s 20-plus year career, JGL — a name bestowed upon him by his throngs of ravenous fans — is going to be a triple threat with a writing, acting and directing credit in his newest project “Don Jon.” The film follows its title character through his addiction to pornography and the effects it has on his new relationship.

“I wanted to tell a story about how sometimes people treat each other more like things than like people,” Gordon-Levitt said in his room at the Crescent Hotel, the entertainer’s outpost for the film’s Dallas junket. “I imagine a bit of that came from my own experience. Actors in our own culture are often treated more like things than people.”

Gordon-Levitt created the protagonist Jon Martello in response to his view of the media’s objectification of women and, through numerous rewrites of the script, eventually developed a character so layered in social norms (church, family and friends) that the film finds its function in Martello’s repetition of three.

In fact, Gordon-Levitt is so straightforward with his theme that he takes an entire minute-and-a-half out of the film’s 90 minute run time just to let the audience watch Martello and his family ogle at a bikini-clad model trying to sell cheeseburgers.

“I think any difference between porn and mainstream media is purely technical,” Gordon-Levitt said. “It’s still the same thing, turning women into a sex object and reducing them to that.”

Speaking of women, Gordon-Levitt managed to pull together a stellar cast of female counterparts that includes the likes of Scarlett Johansson as his anti-porn, over-bearing girlfriend Barbara and Julianne Moore as Esther, a recovering widow who opens Martello’s eyes to the world around him.

While Gordon-Levitt “never imagined” Moore would say yes to Esther, he did write the role of Barbara with Johansson in mind.

“Even when I was conceiving the story, I wanted Scarlett to be Barbara,” Gordon-Levitt said. “She is so different from any character you’ve seen her play before, she brings such a charm and specificity to the character that you end up liking her even though you’re really not supposed to.”

Of course, considering the movie revolves around Martello’s sexual awakening, Gordon-Levitt worked closely with both actresses. Some might say extremely close.

“Yeah, those [sex scenes] are just part of the job. It’s a very technical thing,” Gordon-Levitt said. “We’re creating an illusion, crafting a story. You do those scenes for few seconds and then you hop up and talk to the camera people, the lights people, the sound people and see if the scene even worked.”

Gordon-Levitt pauses, looks down at his hands and says with a smile, “but it’s good work and I love doing it.”

“Don Jon” opens in select theaters nationwide Friday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.