Back to IndieWire

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Talks ‘Don Jon,’ Sexual Objectification, His Real-Life Girlfriend and More on Interview Trail (CLIPS)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Talks 'Don Jon,' Sexual Objectification, His Real-Life Girlfriend and More on Interview Trail (CLIPS)

With Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s feature writing and directing debut “Don Jon” hitting theaters this weekend, following its festival run that launched at Sundance earlier this year and finished up at TIFF, the director-star is on the interview trail. Highlights below from his chats with TIME, Entertainment Weekly and more.

In his new film, Gordon-Levitt stars as a Jersey Shore type with a porn preoccupation; meanwhile, his character’s new girlfriend (Scarlett Johansson) is equally obsessed with the ridiculous Hollywood rom-coms she sees up on the big screen every weekend.

Check out our recent TOH! article on Catholics’ response to the film. Plus, Gordon-Levitt appeared on Jimmy Fallon two nights ago, and got into a lip-sync battle “for the ages.” Watch that and a clip from “Don Jon,” as well as the full EW cover photo of Gordon-Levitt, after the jump. (Indiewire’s video interview with JGL is here.)

On the link, addressed in “Don Jon,” between the potentially harmful fantasies in both porn and more mainstream fare, like romantic comedies (EW):

“I wanted to talk about how media influenced people’s
expectations. Pornography is a huge, huge part of our
media culture. The message Don Jon is trying to bring to light—and make fun
of—is reducing people, especially women, to nothing but sex objects. It happens
in music videos, TV shows, movies, and magazines, and so many commercials.
Whether it’s rated X or approved by the FCC to sell Doritos, the message is the

On his use of sex and romance in “Don Jon” (TIME):

“I wanted the movie itself to be guilty of some of these same
things and lure the audience down the same road, especially the second act of
the movie where the conventional romance is moving right along. It uses all
those same devices, the beautiful dolly shots and the sweeping string section,
the gorgeous lighting and all that stuff. I like it when movies sort of are, I
guess, self-culpable. Godard does this a lot. That’s actually one of the
references I brought up to Scarlett early on: Brigitte Bardot in ‘Contempt.’ The
movie is constantly seducing you with her beauty and her sex appeal and then
suddenly slapping you across the face and saying ‘look at what you’re doing,
look at how you’re relating to this woman on the screen.’”

On feeling objectified (TIME):

“The first germ of the story [for ‘Don Jon’] was probably me feeling like a
bit of an object myself and thinking about how media contributes to that. When
I was on TV when I was a teenager, they always wanted me to be in teen
magazines. I really didn’t want to be in teen magazines but it’s a strong
promotional tool for a television show. I remember even then making the
argument to people who didn’t get it, or who were maybe even freaked out that
this 14-year-old was comparing teen magazines to pornography, I remember making
that comparison back then.”

On finding the balance between flexibility and steadfastness in directing (EW):

“The ability to balance a thorough plan with spontaneity is
right at the crux of being a good director. If you’re too married to your plan,
your movie will end up stilted. If you don’t have a thorough enough plan, and
are only going on whim, your movie might end up without a strong, singular
voice. And that applies to how you approach a whole life.”

On his “secret girlfriend” (LA Times quoting Howard Stern interview):

“I have a girlfriend but I tend not to really like to
talk about it in public. She is not in show business… I get up in movies and I play other people, so when
the audience is watching me in movies, I don’t want them thinking about me and
who I’m dating, and blah blah blah. I want them to
see the character, the story that I’m telling, you know.”

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Interviews and tagged , , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox