Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s career has had the actor dabbling in nearly every genre there is, between his work with Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson and Seth Rogen and so forth. But the fact of the matter is when you're a romantic lead, that’s oftentimes what you become known best for among the masses. JGL’s performance in 500 Days of Summer is perhaps the most iconic of his roles, but he got his start in rom-coms in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You. Surprisingly, the actor really did not want to be in the ‘90s classic when it was brought to him as a teen.
When discussing his achievements as an actor across thirty years, Joseph Gordon-Levitt admitted why the role of Cameron in the 1999 take of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew did not appeal to him. In his words:
I’ll be honest, I was not sold on doing 10 Things I Hate About You when I first read the script. I was like, ‘I don’t wanna do one of these high school romantic comedies. I want to do serious movies.’ That’s all I wanted to do when I was that age. I was going to arthouse cinemas and watching movies coming from Sundance. Watching Sling Blade and Reservoir Dogs and Soderbergh and Tarantino. That’s what I wanted to do. And 10 Things I Hate About You came around and I was like, ‘Nah. NO.’
Even when Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a young kid auditioning for anything he could get before nabbing early roles in Angels in the Outfield and 3rd Rock from the Sun, he said he didn't love the idea of starring in commercials and really took acting seriously, so the Disney-produced romantic comedy didn’t exactly fit the bill. Here’s why he auditioned anyway:
A bunch of people in my life, my agent and you know other people were like, ‘Are you sure? Just like consider this, this is a pretty good one of these. And you know it would probably be a good thing. Just like try.’ I auditioned for two parts when I auditioned for 10 Things I Hate About You. I auditioned for the part I played Cameron, and I also auditioned for the role that I really wanted. That I thought was kind of funny was the character Michael that was played by David Krumholtz. The director offered me the role of Cameron and I was like, ‘Uh, ugh.’
Even after giving the movie a chance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was then put off by being given the role of Cameron, the new kid in school who has a huge crush on Larisa Oleynik’s Bianca the moment he steps on campus. When David Krumholtz’s Michael tells him he doesn’t have a chance since the Stratford sisters don’t date unless they both do, he hires Heath Ledger’s Patrick to ask out Julia Stiles’ stubborn Kat.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt was no older than 18 when he starred in 10 Things I Hate About You, and he continued to Vanity Fair with the following:
I remember having a meeting with him and being like, ‘This doesn’t make sense. This feels cheesy and that feels cheesy.’ They listened to some of my ideas, but mostly I think I was just wrong and being too serious about the whole thing. Luckily, I did do it. I did the part. Almost didn’t but luckily I did… I’m so glad I did that movie. Not only because it’s a movie audiences still love 20 years later, but the experience is actually what I love the most about that whole thing. We had such a good time.
In the end, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is exceedingly happy he took his peers’ advice and did the rom-com. Not long after, he was able to still market himself as the type of actor he had set out to be. Within the same year, he made Mysterious Skin and Brick, two highly-acclaimed films that shook off how “embarrassed” he was of 10 Things I Hate About You. As the actor approaches 40 next year, he said he’s just as proud of the 1999 role as his other work. You can check out the actor talk about his career here:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s latest movie is Netflix’s Project Power, which is on the streaming service now. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more movie news.