Joseph Gordon-Levitt fans should reserve a little gratitude for Seth Rogen, an inadvertent spiritual influence for "Don Jon."
The new film, about a New Jersey bro who loves his car, his apartment, his friends, his family, his sexual conquests and his internet pornography (and not necessarily in that order), marks Gordon-Levitt's feature writing and directing debut. (He also stars as the title character.) While Gordon-Levitt said he was working on the project for "years," it wasn't until he was on the set of "50/50" in 2010 that everything came together.
"I was up in Vancouver and hanging out with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and that whole posse, and that's when I thought of doing it as a comedy," Gordon-Levitt told HuffPost Entertainment in a March interview about "Don Jon" during the South By Southwest Film Festival. Gordon-Levitt said he was drawn to the idea of doing "Don Jon" as a character study that reached for both laughs and some pathos.
"I knew I wanted Don Jon to be a Don Juan character, but then thinking of him as this machismo East Coast version of the Don Juan, that instantly made me laugh," Gordon-Levitt said. "I thought of myself playing that. It seemed like a fun challenge as an actor. It took about a half a year in between from when I had the idea and when I put it together as a screenplay, and then the better part of the year writing the screenplay."
During that lengthy development process, Gordon-Levitt said he became intimately aware of his character's dimensions, a byproduct of the screenwriting that allowed him to hit the ground running as an actor directing his first feature.
"From what I've found, we all think of the director as this very romantic position -- and it is," Gordon-Levitt said. "That's true, but there's also a lot of very mundane logistical details that you have to plow your way through day after day. No one talks about that very much. As an actor, you're just focused on giving a performance. As a director, you're focused on that, but you also have to think: 'OK, the trucks are over there so we can't point the camera that way. Fuck, now what do we do?' Stupid things like that you have to work out."
For Gordon-Levitt, working that stuff out became one of the fun challenges of directing, something he may not have anticipated before embarking on the job.
"The decisions you make during those long, arduous parts of the process are really important. You can't just tune out. You have to really be on all that stuff," he said. "You know who's a master of that stuff is Christopher Nolan. A lot of the little bits of advice that he would give me were little technical things. He would say, 'If you're going to use a car scene, don't use a tow rig because it doesn't look real. It always takes up so much time to set up.' Those are really important questions that can actually impact your movie, even though they don't feel, quote-unquote, artistic."
"Don Jon" is out in theaters on Sept. 27. For HuffPost Entertainment's full interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, click here.