PLAYBOY: You’ve used YouTube and the internet a lot to express yourself. Is it as satisfying and creative an outlet as film?
GORDON-LEVITT: The internet’s a fascinating thing because you can express yourself anonymously without any of the consequences. I’ve developed a lot of meaningful, creatively collaborative relationships with all sorts of people on the internet. I use Twitter a lot, and I have an open collaborative production company, hitRECord, where I make art with people.
PLAYBOY: Are there any film genres you haven’t done that you’d like to tackle? You’re reportedly attached to a remake of Little Shop of Horrors.
GORDON-LEVITT: I would like to do a musical, if I could find a cool one. When Zooey and I danced in that video it was just us having a great time, just being ourselves. A song-and-dance role is closer to me personally than other characters I play.
PLAYBOY: Your grandfather Michael Gordon directed some of the most popular romantic comedies and tearjerkers of the 1960s, with Doris Day, Rock Hudson and James Garner. Do you ever wish you were working in old-time Hollywood?
GORDON-LEVITT: No. Right now is without a doubt the most exciting time in human history. The ability to connect with one another, the technology of the internet and all that it’s spawning, is doubtlessly the most fascinating thing that’s ever happened. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be alive, as a human being and especially as an artist. In the 20th century making movies, music or anything was a one-way thing, but creativity is always more of an interactive, back-and-forth, organic and progressive thing. We’re going to get away from “Oh, I just get to listen to stories; I don’t tell them” and “I just listen to music; I don’t play or sing it.” No, man! That’s a terrible way to think about yourself. I think art is going to become more conversational, more of a dialogue, and a better, healthier thing for everybody.
PLAYBOY: Why do you think your Dark Knight Rises co-star Christian Bale called you an “intriguing guy”?
GORDON-LEVITT: We had a fucking great time every day working on that movie. I felt as though I’d transferred in for senior year and had a graduation celebration. You felt a huge sense of accomplishment and closure. Everyone on that movie did such good, dignified work. No one came to phone it in or just cash a check.
PLAYBOY: Are you enough of a daredevil to tear through Manhattan traffic on a fixed-gear brakeless bicycle the way your terrorized bike messenger character does in Premium Rush?
GORDON-LEVITT: I’m really into bikes, actually, because I was paying attention to them doing Premium Rush. So when someone rides by with a cool setup that really fits them, I think, Oh wow, that looks nice. I live in a part of L.A. with quite a bike culture, and I bought a great bike, but I don’t ride it as much as I’d like.
PLAYBOY: Does being an internet-savvy guy who has acted in a few high-tech, futuristic movies translate into being a cutting-edge, gadget-buying guy offscreen?
GORDON-LEVITT: I’d say no. I will admit I like cameras. I have some that are really nice. I like a beautiful guitar or piano, because I love music and musical instruments. I guess I do as much fetishizing as the average guy. Cars do not impress me. Whenever I see somebody with an extremely nice car, I’m like, What an idiot. It just looks so stupid.
PLAYBOY: You play Abraham Lincoln’s son in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming historical epic Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
GORDON-LEVITT: It’s a ridiculously exciting movie to be part of. Daniel Day-Lewis has a unique, enormously inspiring process that’s very immersive. I never heard his real voice or saw him out of costume. I met the president, I met my dad, but I never met Day-Lewis until we wrapped. As excited as I am about Lincoln, though, I’m honestly most excited about Looper.
PLAYBOY: That’s the time-travel movie in which you’re an assassin assigned to kill your future self, played by Bruce Willis. What personal or professional transgressions would you travel through time to fix?
GORDON-LEVITT: I wouldn’t do that, but I’m a sucker for Rian Johnson’s thing. He’s the writer-director of Looper, and I also made Brick with him. He’s a dear friend and a brilliant filmmaker—a great writer, a great mind. Looper brings all the exhilaration and chemical feelings you hope to get from an action sci-fi movie. But Rian has also come up with a concept that will tickle your intellect while he tells a sincere story about the cyclical nature of violence and how violence begets violence. I love going to a good movie more than anything, and this movie just hits it.
PLAYBOY: What’s the best night out you’ve had recently?
GORDON-LEVITT: Questlove is a great drummer, but I saw him deejay recently. He could put on any record at all, but the art is in the sequence, reading the crowd and thinking, I know exactly the song to put on right now. To me that’s the art form of the 21st century and creativity in general—being able to pick and choose from anything and make the right choice.
PLAYBOY: You replaced James Franco in Inception and James McAvoy in 50/50. Which other famous Jameses are you out to replace?
GORDON-LEVITT: [Laughs] That’s funny. LeBron better look out.