10/02/2011 01:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Joseph Gordon-Levitt In 'Family Ties,' Commercials (VIDEOS)

This weekend, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays leading man in the critically acclaimed cancer dramedy, "50/50," playing a 27-year old facing his mortality. It's a performance that, according to early speculation, could earn him an Academy Award nomination, a mark of prestige he has been building towards for years.

In fact, while most of us go back with him to the era in which he played the orphan kid in "Angels in the Outfield" and brilliant alien teen in "3rd Rock From The Sun," JGL has been at this game far longer than that.

He got his start in commercials -- following a turn in a pre-school production of "The Wizard of Oz" -- showing a propensity for hawking breakfast foods. Even at a young age, he was searching for something deeper.

"I didn't really like doing commercials," he told the NY Times in 2007. "You had to behave like you were on angel dust or something."

As a seven year old, he starred in two episodes of NBC's "Family Ties," playing a boy who isn't so receptive to a new deaf classmate. That same year, he was in the TV movie "Stranger On My Land" with Tommy Lee Jones. In 1990, he was cast in the short-lived revival of "Dark Shadows" on ABC, and from there, the rest is history.

Below, take a look at a few of his earliest works, including commercials for Cocoa Puffs and Pop Tarts, as well as his role in "Family Ties." And then next summer, see him in the movie event of the decade, "The Dark Knight Rises."