Though we know Joseph Gordon-Levitt in his wildly successful turns in films like the romcom (500) Days of Summer, the blockbuster Inception, and the currently running 50/50, based on the true story of a young guy struggling with cancer, he wasn’t always so in demand. In fact, following his stint on the sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun, which ended in 2001, the 30-year-old tells the latest edition of Elle magazine that he couldn’t get a gig to save his life. “Nobody wanted to hire me — I can see where they wouldn’t want the kid from ‘3rd Rock From the Sun,'” he admits. But he goes on to say that he came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to wait for somebody to tell him that he’s allowed to be creative. So the actor, who studied French at Columbia University, worked in independent films like Brick, and founded the website, where writers, musicians, photographers, and other artists collaborate on a variety of projects.

Perhaps because he hasn’t always been considered a hot commodity in Hollywood, Joseph doesn’t consider it the be-all, end-all of his life. His latest film, 50/50, is billed in part as a comedy, but the movie does have pretty serious subject matter. And Joseph’s the first one to admit that. “I spent a lot of time — most of my days — thinking about what it would be like to be facing death while I was shooting 50/50. But, to be honest, I think about that all the time anyway.” Next year, the actor will become part of an ensemble cast, featuring Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, and Anne Hathaway, in Christopher Nolan’s sequel to the smash hit The Dark Knight. But if there ever comes a day when he’s back on the list of actors looking for work, don’t doubt for a moment that he’ll be just fine. Here, he’s fine as can be in retro-cool Ray Ban wayfarers.  –rpuccia

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