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Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes gooey for Zooey in "(500) Days of Summer"
When you're making a "boy meets girl" romantic comedy, it helps if the boy already knows the girl.
"We've known each other for almost 10 years now," says Joseph Gordon-Levitt of his (500) Days of Summer co-star Zooey Deschanel. "We did Manic together back in 2000. We've stayed friends since then and that really made us work as a couple, I think. We could trust each other; understand each other's sensibilities and rhythms and all that." Something works. (500) Days, a skip-back-and-forth through the stages of a relationship, is the most acclaimed romantic comedy of the summer. It opens here July 31.
"Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel find truth in every scene, particularly one late moment in which he shoots her a look that's a wordless definition of love," Moira McDonald swooned in The Seattle Times.
Gordon-Levitt, 28, the onetime Third Rock from the Sun alien teen and indie film phenomenon (Brick, The Lookout), is happy to give all the credit to his co-star, famed for quirky performances, big eyes and cute bangs.
"Zooey couldn't fake anything if she tried," he says. "She's so self-possessed that she knows what she likes, what's important to her, and won't bend to the fashion of the day. She doesn't let anybody tell her who to be, how to be. That honesty is EXTREMELY attractive."
Their droll comedy about a love affair that may or may not come to a " Hollywood ending" attracted Gordon-Levitt because of what it was not -- a "genre picture built on formulaic plot devices.|.|. filmmakers and actors follow in the footsteps of characters and performances that have worked before, rather than tell a genuine story from the heart."
Gordon-Levitt is the sort of sharp cookie you'd want analyzing your script for you. He's been acting since age 6, starred in Angels in the Outfield as a child, Third Rock as a teen and has navigated the journey to boyish leading man with skill -- and an eye for gritty, darker roles in darker films such as Stop-Loss and Killshot. He quit acting and attended Columbia University for three years before acting again. But (500) Days was a movie that took him back to his childhood, if only for one big scene -- his dance moment in a Los Angeles park.
"It was one of the most memorable days of my life," he says. "It's a sad thing, but I was making this comparison months before he died. I thought of Michael Jackson all day when we were doing that scene. Like most kids, I grew up absolutely enthralled watching his videos, standing in front of the TV, trying to do the 'Thriller' dances. I never thought that I would get to be that guy.
"To learn a little choreography, with all these dancers behind me making me look good, was just dreamy. That's corny, I know, because the song is 'You Make My Dreams Come True.' But it was something I will never forget."