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Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 7500

Joseph Gordon-Levitt spent years making the transition from child actor to indie star to studio lead, but you probably noticed that he has been absent from the big screen for the last few years. In 2016 he played the titular role in Oliver Stone’s Snowden, but the release of that film came a year after the birth of his first son, and about nine months before the birth of his second. Wanting to dedicate time to raising his kids, he put his professional life mostly on hold… save for a cameo in friend Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Given the star’s time off, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role in writer/director Patrick Vollrath’s new thriller 7500 can be called a comeback film – and it’s an interesting one to say the least. In fact, it was because of the uniqueness of the project that the actor specifically chose it, as I learned this past week during a video chat interview with Gordon-Levitt and Vollrath together:

When a professional actor is making their return after a hiatus, you’d think that the logical move would be for them to pick a big and flash project – one that would ensure that audiences all around the world would know that they are back. That, however, wasn’t the move for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Instead, the Looper star opted to use the moment as an opportunity to challenge himself, and find a feature that would serve as a metaphorical deep end for a high dive. He found that in 7500.

In the movie, Gordon-Levitt stars as Tobias Ellis, an American pilot working for a German airline who we meet as he prepares for a run-of-the-mill international flight. Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong when terrorists attempt to take over the plane. When his co-pilot is severely injured, he finds himself alone in the locked cockpit trying to figure out what to do next, and meanwhile the hijackers are bashing at the door and threatening flight attendants and passengers.

With the exception of the opening sequence, which follows security footage in an airplane terminal prior to the flight, the entire movie is set in the cockpit of a plane, and given the stressfulness of the scenario it’s not hard to see just on the surface where the challenge existed for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. However, it goes far deeper than that.

As I discussed with the actor and Patrick Vollrath, 7500 wasn’t shot like a typical movie, tackling a series of shots and scenes each day. Instead, Vollrath’s methodology had his cinematographer keeping the camera rolling for up to an hour for a single take, and the editing process involved chopping up and together chunks of 40-60 minute material. What’s more, while the script was very specific in its technical approach, working to be as accurate to real-world procedure as possible, much of the rest was kept open for improvisation from the actors. It led to a very different kind of schedule for the production, and required alternative communication methods, as Gordon-Levitt and Vollrath discuss in the video above.

The end result is some edge-of-your-seat stuff – and you can see it for yourself right now. Getting a jump on the weekend, 7500, co-starring Carlo Kitzlinger, Omid Memar, Murathan Muslu, Aurélie Thépaut, and Aylin Tezel in addition to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is now available to rent and/or purchase on Amazon Prime Video. Check it out, and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interview with the star and director.