Why Joseph Gordon-Levitt Is a Proud Feminist

Plus, find out if he really auditioned for Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man

By Zach Johnson Aug 15, 2014 1:46 PMTags
Joseph Gordon-LevittMichael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

Joseph Gordon-Levitt understands the definition of the word "feminism."

The star, writer and director of Don Jon does not understand why people— particularly famous people—refuse to call themselves feminists. Though he told Ellen DeGeneres he is a "feminist, absolutely," when he visited her eponymous talk show in January, he further elaborated in a recent Daily Beast interview.

Because stars like Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry and Shailene Woodley have said they are "not" feminists, the interviewer pointed out, "You have a lot of young stars coming out against being labeled a feminist."

"Coming out against the label? Wow. I guess I'm not aware of that," Gordon-Levitt, 33, replied.

"What [feminism] means to me is that you don't let your gender define who you are—you can be who you want to be, whether you're a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, whatever. However you want to define yourself, you can do that and should be able to do that, and no category ever really describes a person because every person is unique," the Inception star explained. "That, to me, is what 'feminism' means.'"

Gordon-Levitt reiterated that he "absolutely" calls himself a feminist. The Dark Knight Rises star said, "If you look at history, women are an oppressed category of people. There's a long, long history of women suffering abuse, injustice, and not having the same opportunities as men, and I think that's been very detrimental to the human race as a whole. I'm a believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it's better for everyone. It benefits society as a whole."

In the same interview, the actor said it's "bulls--t" that he auditioned for Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy and the titular hero in Ant-Man. (The roles went to Chris Pratt and Paul Rudd, respectively.)

Correcting himself, he said, "No, I wouldn't use the word bulls--t—but it is incorrect. But I am working on Sandman and we're in the very early stages of working on the adaptation. It's such rich material, and it's a challenge to adapt Sandman into a feature film because it wasn't written that way; it was written as 75 issues of an episodic comic book, so adapting that into a feature necessitates us getting really creative with it. I think we're really onto something...I really think we have the potential to do something great."

Gordon-Levitt next appears in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.