He's bound to get a lot more attention in upcoming months. In August, he stars as the screeching Cobra Commander in "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," he just wrapped the low-budget "Hesher" costarring Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson, and he's shooting "Inception," Christopher Nolan's follow-up to "The Dark Knight."
"G.I. Joe" is about as far from an art film as one can get. Based on a toy line and an '80s TV cartoon, the movie, with its big budget and even bigger explosions, would seem anathema when compared with the indie-minded films that have crowded Gordon-Levitt's resume as of late.
The actor said he nearly passed on the project until producers showed him sketches of the high-tech body armor he'd be wearing as the evil Cobra Commander, who takes on the elite team of G.I. Joe soldiers. Those who have seen early cuts of the film -- Gordon-Levitt is not one of them -- say the actor spends the film with his boyish visage completely covered by a mask and barely recognizable.
While making the movie, Gordon Levitt said, he felt the kid in him emerge: "I looked in the mirror and it's not me -- that's a head trip. I don't care what other movie experiences I've had, it was awesome."
Asked whether he thought audiences familiar with his work would be surprised that he signed up for a special-effects-laden cartoon adaptation, he took some time to find the right response.
"I guess if someone were to have actually watched a bunch of movies I'm in and thought about why I do what I do . . . I guess it would make sense in that I love trying different things," he said. "The career stuff is for business people. I just want to be creatively inspired."