If you're a huge Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan like me, you might want to get your hands on the August issue of GQ for his impressive front-cover profile. In terms of publicity and positioning the Dark Knight Rises actor as a red-hot Hollywood commodity, he couldn't have asked for a better piece (he's lauded for his "collaborative spirit and uncommon versatility," and described as equally talented in drama, comedy, noir, and "popcorn fare") -- which is exactly why I'm so impressed he has the balls to lash out at the magazine for what they wrote about his brother.
Gordon-Levitt's brother Dan passed away in October of 2010, and while a cause of death has never been made public, GQ's writer referred to Dan's "alleged drug overdose" in the article. That brief mention in an otherwise highly complimentary celebrity biopic caused Gordon-Levitt to post an unhappy statement to GQ -- despite the fallout he might receive as a result.
Here's what JDL posted to his Tumblr yesterday morning:
First of all, I’d like to thank both of the Jims and everyone else at GQ for putting me on the cover of their magazine this month. That kind of exposure is a huge help to all the work I love to do, and I’m deeply appreciative.
I’m writing this because I have a problem with what their article says about my brother. I’ll be honest, it really made me feel terrible. Here’s a quote:
"... the elder Gordon-Levitt died of an alleged drug overdose in 2010. 'It was an accident' is all Joe will say about that."
Using the word "alleged" technically allows the writer to say whatever she wants. The "allegations" to which she must be referring were made by a handful of gossip websites. They are factually incorrect according to the coroner’s office and the police department. I don’t like publicly speaking about my brother’s death, but I’m making an exception to correct this irresponsible claim.
By the way, while I asked the writer not to dwell on how he died, I did say quite a bit about how he lived, and how much he means to me. Dan was a brightly positive, genuinely caring, and brilliantly inspiring person, and I liked the idea of such a wide readership learning about him. My parents and I are disappointed with what the article chose to focus on regarding this sensitive subject.
It seems to me it would have been much, much easier for Gordon-Levitt to privately fume over the writer's characterization of his brother's death, chalk it up to the same misinformation the gossip sites reported two years ago, and quietly move on. Instead, he took a stand for his brother in a very public way, even though he knew it might be interpreted as biting the hand that feeds him.
I also can't really blame the writer for reporting on what little information has been made available regarding Dan Gordon-Levitt's passing, and that's why JDL's response seems exceedingly brave to me. He's risking coming across as diva-like with his refusal to quietly sit by and allow the magazine to report what they want. He might seem like a difficult interview subject now, or draw even more attention to a subject he clearly wants to control.
In the midst of a hugely important media window for promoting Dark Knight Rises and Looper, Gordon-Levitt's choice to call out a high profile publication shows just how much he cares about his brother's memory -- and how he prioritizes family over publicity. Personally, I like him even more as a result.
Do you think GQ should have honored Joseph Gordon-Levitt's wishes in how his brother was mentioned in the article? Or do you think it was unrealistic of him to expect that they would do so?
Image via GQ