Joseph Gordon-Levitt has found his place in Hollywood with films that range from “500 Days of Summer” to the blockbuster “The Dark Knight Rises”, but he says it’s still a process for him to get a movie made himself. Now the 32-year-old is making his directorial debut with a film he also wrote and stars in called “Don Jon.” The story follows a guy who watches too much pornography who falls for a girl who watches too many romantic Hollywood movies. Here he tells FOX411 why he chose such bold material, what it took to get the movie to the big screen and how working with Christopher Nolan helped prepare him for this next step in his career.
FOX411: Very bold choice for your first “I-did-everything” movie as you write, direct, star so the big question, why this one?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I wanted to tell a story about how people sometimes treat each other more like things, than like people, and how the media can sometimes play a part in that. I've always paid a lot of attention to the reactions people have to movies and TV and things like that because I've been an actor since I was a kid and especially recently I've heard a lot people say ‘Why can't my life be like that movie you were in?’ or ‘Why can't I find somebody like you in that movie?’ and I find that a little startling because real life isn't like it is in the movies. Real life is actually a lot more beautiful and rich with detail and nuance but you'll miss it if you're constantly comparing your real life to fantasies. So that's why I thought a story about a young man who watches too much pornography going out with a young woman who watches too many romantic Hollywood movies would be sort of a funny way to ask these questions.
FOX411: Your production company is to help aspiring artists get their films made. For you is it still as hard to get a movie, a passion project made?
Gordon-Levitt: I'm really grateful. I've been really fortunate especially in the last several years and I've been able to take that good fortune and maneuver it into getting projects off the ground like this one, and Scarlett (Johansson) was really instrumental in making it happen too. I wouldn't have been able to do it alone, it was when Scarlett read the script and said that she wanted to do it that's when we were sort of off to the races and we were able to raise a relatively modest but enough of a budget to make the movie and keep creative control. And it all turned out the way I hoped it would. I’m really happy about it.
FOX411: [What is] one of the biggest things you learned then as director now?
Gordon-Levitt: What’s interesting about being a director [is]… you think of a filmmaker as someone who dreams up a movie and then it comes to life, and that is true to a degree, but there's also a lot of mundane logistical details and work that you have to trudge through. It's not as romantic to talk about, but if you're not on top of those details, the whimsical stuff falls apart.
I've seen it done, and I’ve seen it done by some of the masters like Christopher Nolan for example who made “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Inception.” He's an extremely detail oriented really technical director and getting to watch him work, I think, prepared me to a degree of just handling all these things making sure all the screws are in place, all the T's are crossed and I's are dotted.
“Don Jon” hits theaters on Sept. 27.