1. A River Runs Through It - 1992
JGL showed up on Family Ties and a Coca Puffs commercial before winning his first notable feature role: the young version of good son Norman, played as an adult by Craig Sheffer, in Robert Redford’s fly-fishing drama.
2. Roseanne - 1993
JGL’s first screen-stealing performance came on Roseanne in his recurring role as George, the sweet but boring boy from next door. You don’t want to see his coin collection, do you?
3. 3rd Rock from the Sun - The Early Years - 1996
At age 15, JGL became a household name with his most visible role to date: undercover alien, and undersized know-it-all, Tommy Solomon on TV’s 3rd Rock from the Sun.
4. 10 Things I Hate About You - 1999
JGL took advantage of his growing teen idol status with this high school revamp of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. His co-stars included Julia Stiles and Joker-to-be Heath Ledger.
5. 3rd Rock from the Sun - The Later Years - 2001
By season three, JGL had clipped his locks. By season six, he had “gone to college” — that’s TV code for leaving a series to pursue a film career. But in JGL’s case it was true: he attended Columbia University and studied French poetry.
6. Manic - 2001
JGL displayed his not-so-comic side as a violent teen in Manic. Look out for an appearance by his future 500 Days of Summer co-star, Zooey Deschanel, even if you probably won’t recognize her.
7. Mysterious Skin - 2004
After dropping out of college, JGL returned to acting and earned critical kudos for his nuanced performance as molestation victim and gay prostitute Neil. The edgy drama was directed by Gregg Araki and based on the novel by Scott Heim.
8. Brick - 2005
JGL grew out his hair and expanded his range as Brendan, a shaggy-headed Sam Spade Jr. The So-Cal neo-noir was directed by Rian Johnson who would later re-team with the actor for Looper.
9. (500) Days of Summer - 2009
JGL established his leading man potential in this fractured rom-com, as the guy who just can’t hold on to Summer, played by Zooey Deschanel.
10. Saturday Night Live - 2009
His first time out, JGL killed as SNL host — he opened the broadcast with a somersaulting, showstopping rendition of “Make Em Laugh” and is back to host Sept. 22, 2012.
11. Inception - 2010
JGL continued to fight gravity as Arthur, right-hand-man to Leonardo DiCaprio’s cerebral saboteur. He did most of his own stunts in what became the actor’s first big-budget blockbuster.
12. Hesher - 2011
JGL hit the treadmill and stopped washing his hair for this title role as Hesher, a squatter who favors the bare-chested lifestyle.
13. 50/50 - 2011
JGL tugged heartstrings as a twentysomething diagnosed with cancer. He also added another entry into his repertoire of hairstyles: straight-up bald.
14. The Dark Knight Rises - 2012
So begins the Year of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a.k.a. 2012. JGL’s role as one of Gotham City’s finest left fans speculating about his role in a possible spin-off. Keep dreaming, Bat-fans.
15. Looper - 2012
JGL perfected his Bruce Willis smirk to play the actor’s younger self (with some help from the makeup department) in this high-concept time-travel flick.