Porn. Masturbation. Scarlett Johansson acting sexier than ever. A pot-smoking Julianne Moore. Tony Fucking Danza. Sex. Sex. Sex. Everything you’ve always wanted in the directorial debut of Boy Wonder Joseph Gordon-Levitt is here, and it’s called “Don Jon’s Addiction.”
The film tells the story of himbo Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt in the titular role), who only cares about a small number of things in his life: his body, his pad, his ride (classic SS Camaro), his bros, going to church (seriously), fucking as many women as he can, and most importantly, masturbating to porn roughly 15-20 times a week. Yeah, it gets weird. But it’s also sexy, hilarious, and awesome. Read our review of the movie here.
The film premiered for the world just a few days ago at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, was quickly picked up by Relativity Media for a summer release and shortly after, we sat down with Gordon-Levitt, Moore, and Danza to talk about the film. And porn. We definitely talked about porn.
Hey, what’s up man?
Chase Whale! Good to see you, man!
Good to see you too!
You guys are..the website is…is the website Gordon and Whale no longer?
Yeah, I shut that down last August.
So now I’m writing for Twitch and freelancing.
Cool! Well, I liked that website.
Thank you very much! I did too. But, finances were getting less and less.
Onwards and upwards.
Yeah, so on to better things. But it was fun while it lasted.
Yeah, right on. You guys were one of the first supporters of hitRECord. Maybe the first movie blogs that was like, “This is a cool thing this guy is doing!” I really appreciated that.
Oh wow, that’s awesome! Thank you for saying that….
You worked with some of the greatest directors in the world last year. What were some of the biggest takeaways from the ways those guys worked going into directing your first feature?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Great question. Getting the chance to work with and watch Rian [Johnson] and Chris [Nolan] and Steven [Spielberg] all in one year was a big part of why I felt encouraged to go try. One thing I could say that I noticed that all three of those guys had in common, and they’re all three very different filmmakers, but they all have a great sense of balancing their vision, that they’ve done their homework for, and [being ready for] spontaneous things that arrive on the day.
Julianne Moore: That’s a hard thing to do.
JGL: It is, and that I think is right at the crux of what makes a good director: is knowing when to stick to what you thought it was going to be and when to go with what it’s now sort of coming to be. Rian and Chris and Steven are all really good at that, and it was something I sort of cheated on and kept in mind a lot while I was directing. Oftentimes it would be like, “This is one of those moments! I’m being asked right now if we’re going to do it the way I thought we were going to do it or if we’re going to try something new. All right.” Those are the decisions that I think make up a lot of what a director does.
The film focuses on a man addicted to masturbating to porn. What made you want to tell such a gutsy and risky story for your first directorial feature?
JGL : I mean, I’ll tell you how I got to that subject matter. But…I knew that if I was going to make a movie and be in charge then I wanted to do something that I couldn’t do otherwise. You know? I wanted to do something that would probably have not happened if I wasn’t making it happen. So, you know I made a short film that played here at Sundance called “Sparks,” which I really like and I’m really proud of it. It’s an adaptation of an Elmore Leonardshort story and while I think it’s really good, it wasn’t something that could not have happened without me. You know what I mean? If that makes sense.
Tony Danza: [It was] more conventional.
JGL: It was more conventional. I mean, Elmore Leonard is a genre writer that is arguably the best at that crime genre. But I knew if I was going to write and direct a movie I wanted to really try something, and I wanted to try to make a love story. What I’ve noticed about love is what’s always getting in the way — people objectifying each other. Putting expectations on each other that they’ve learned from various places. Whether it’s their family or from friends or from their church or from the media. So I thought a love story about a relationship between a guy who watches too much porn and girl who watches too many romantic Hollywood movies would really bring that theme out. And that was the beginning of it.
TD: You have to wonder what’s harder on relationships, right? Is it the romantic ideal? Or was it the pornography?
JGL: I think it’s really…
TD: Too close to call? [laughing]
How grueling was it watching hours of porn footage to get the right scenes to use for the film?
JGL: It was a grueling process and not as exciting as it sounds [laughing]. Porn can get pretty gross, especially if you watch a lot of it. We were very careful about picking just the right moments, just the right videos, and cropping them just the right way so that it feels like you’re seeing more than you’re actually seeing. You don’t technically see anything that’s not allowed in a rated R movie.
Julianne, you’ve taken some daring roles in your career with up-and-coming directors. How do you decide when it’s just daring enough for you to take?
JM: Oh, that’s a good question! I like that. You know, first-time directors are generally writer-directors, and that’s initially how I make my decision. Because I feel if somebody is able to articulate their vision in the script they’re going to be able to articulate it to me on set as a director and through their shots. It’s been important to me in my career that I have people who are able to do that, and Joseph has been my most successful collaboration.
But, in answer to your question, something just being daring just for being daring is not simply effective. That’s not what I’m looking for — I’m looking for something that is emotionally resonating. And in this case I was reading the script and my character shows up and I had an expectation of what she was going to be and it completely confounded my expectations, and I was really touched by it and surprised. I was like, hey! That was actually a different way. The fact that she is someone who is so unbelievably private and committed to being authentic and unable to be inaunthentic was really, really interesting.
Tony, what’s it like watching Joe grow from a little boy in “Angels In The Outfield” to a leading man who is now a director?
TD: Well, I really loved it when we first met. I felt this certain paternal thing with Joe on “Angels In The Outfield.” So even though we may not see each other I keep my eye on him and it’s just been an amazing evolution, and it’s not surprising I have to tell you. Because even then you could tell he was watching everybody, he was interested in the craft of it right from the beginning. It wasn’t about the superficial stuff it was about the work even then. So I’m not surprised. I am surprised about how good the movie is. [JGL laughs] I’m not kidding! Not that I didn’t think you were going to make a great movie.
JGL: Well I’m glad to hear it.
TD: I just thought that the movie played like gangbusters last night. It’s so sexy! And it’s so like, right there! You know you feel it. And by the way it’s an old story. It’s the same old story we’ve been telling only it uses this device that I think is so prevalent and so problematic in our society.
Absolutely. So talking about your character, what was the best part about playing such a heartless bastard?
TD: Well you get to do something that is totally against type. One of the things that Joe constantly told me was “No, I still like you! I still like you. I want you to get madder.” [they laugh]
JGL: Well and he’s so lovable! Every time you see Tony on screen you just can’t help but smile. So I wanted to…
TD: Break the spell of that….So I think that was the fun of it, was to try see if you could do that without making a caricature out of it. I grew up in a family where if they weren’t yelling, they didn’t care. So that was my favorite archetype.
Joe, you’re kind of a veteran now at Sundance. You’ve acted in films that premieried here and it’s your third year here in collaboration with hitRECord. What’s it like to have the film you directed premier here?
JGL: It’s deeply meaningful. I feel like Sundance is more than just a festival, it’s even more than the institute. It’s a community. I think what Mr. Redford created here is invaluable to people who love movies, in this country especially. Without this community here to encourage each other and let each other know that it’s okay you don’t have to only chase box office, there’s more to movies than that. Sundance is really the epicenter of that sentiment in this country. That’s always resonated with me because I just love movies and love acting and love making things. I would do it whether I was making money doing it or not. And that’s, I think, what people are about here and that’s why I feel so connected to it and why it means so much to have such a great reception for the movie here, especially in Sundance in particular.
"Don Jon’s Addiction" will be released sometime later this summer.
The most rewarding part of a film festival is going into movie completely blind and walking out slack-jawed. This happened to me last year at Sundance with two films: Beasts of the Southern Wild and Smashed. If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know how loud I’ve been about both films. These two floored me and I’ve championed them since first rushing out of the theater to tweet my first reactions.
I’m hoping a heavy number of films will give me that same exhilarating feeling this year, but there are some I’m already eagerly anticipating. Here’s five.
The Spectacular Now
Based on the novel by Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now is an unconventional high school love story directed by James Ponsoldt, who co-wrote and directed Smashed. Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) takes the lead with Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed), and Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) rounding out the stellar cast. I want to see this spectacular-sounding movie right now.
It’s been nine years since filmmaker Shane Carruth blew the roof off independent cinema with his first feature, a super low-budget time travel movie, called Primer. Premiering at Sundance in 2003, Carruth deservingly took home the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize for Best Writing and Directing. Then he disappeared and a lot of movie geeks (myself included) wept.
Well, the auteur is back in Park City with his sophomore feature, Upstream Color. I could tell you the complexed plot synopsis from Sundance’s website, but it’ll make you go cross-eyed. Just know only a fool with would miss this. Carruth also stars in the film, along with indie darling Amy Seimetz, and up-and-comer Frank Mosley (keep a sharp eye on this guy).
Highly acclaimed author David Sedaris has been a stickler (and rightfully so) about who he wants to adapt his short stories into a film. He has shot down many prolific directors, been fickle about a few, and for the first time in history, he gave someone his full blessing. That someone is Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who won the Someone to Watch award at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards for his first feature, Easier with Practice. Here’s what will knock you off your couch: Alvarez was 26 when he made that film. When I was 26, I was still trying to figure out which cereal was my favorite and how many creative excuses I could come up with to not go to work.
The essay Alvarez adapted is taken from the novel Naked, and is of the same name, C.O.G.. The film follows a young man who, while working on an apple farm, learns about the upsets life so conveniently hands out. Adapting a Sedaris short story into a feature is unquestionably difficult, but don’t worry your pretty little head, Alvarez is no stranger to tailoring short stories. Easier with Practice was an essay written by Davy Rothbart for GQ Magazine. In Kyle I trust.
Don Jon’s Addiction
Joseph Gordon-Levitt started acting as a child and has risen to become one of the most prolific and successful actors working today. Considering the long history of child actors who fade away, this is already an incredible accomplishment. But this boy wonder is a go-getter and continues to expand his flourishing career in all sorts of diverse and artful directions. In a few weeks, I’ll be seeing his directorial debut, Don Jon’s Addiction, about the times of a rico suave unsatisfied with his current very gifted sex life. So, like anyone who can get any lady he wants, he seeks out a new challenge. Levitt also wrote the film, and and stars alongside Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, and Rob Brown.
Please, God let this year be the triumphant return of writer/director David Gordon Green. Green made his mark at Sundance in 2003 with All the Real Girls, where he took home the Grand Jury and Special Jury awards in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. He then returned in 2007 with the compelling feature, Snow Angels. His career took a misguided nosedive when he started making appalling major studio stoner comedies, which confused everyone, everywhere. I was worried The Sitter would be the end of Green’s once-promising career, but it appears that he’s remembered how to make a notable film again, an adjective his last three weren’t.
Starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, Prince Avalanche is adapted from the Icelandic feature film, Either Way, about bickering friends who bond through humor and filthy bantering. Sundance claims Green “gets back to his independent roots” with this film, so the world will now be a better place.
Join Johnson and Whale as they discuss the making of “Looper,” a dark mystery featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and answer your fan questions!
RSVP now for this special event!”
UPDATE: Writer/Director Rian Johnson is going to help me hand pick the two winners for the giveaway. Only a few days left to enter!
Time travel has not yet been invented, but Blu-rays of LOOPER have. So has that really slick pocket watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt wears in the film. Since this is one of my favorite films of the year and Christmas is coming up, I’ve teamed up with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to give two people a LOOPER pocket watch and Blu-ray copy of the film. Fucking awesome, right?
Since these items are way too cool for an easy giveaway, I want you to get creative. Here’s how this is going to work: find a photo of yourself when you were younger—go back at least 10 years. Then, take a photo of your grownup self now, copying the pose, clothes and background of that young photo. It’s OK to Photoshop them side-by-side, but don’t cut and paste yourself into an old photo. If you do that, a younger version of yourself will assassinate you in 30 years—not a fun way to loop yourself out of the giveaway.
When you’re done, email me the photos or comment with them below. If you choose email, send ‘em here with “Looper Giveaway” in the subject line: email@example.com. I will announce the two winners on December 31st. Good luck!
Last thing, this is for U.S. residents only (sorry, it’s the rules!)
(If you don’t win, no need worry—it’s available on December 31st and you can get it here: amzn.to/RNr9Qb .)