It’s been well past 500 days of summer, fall, winter and spring since we’ve seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a movie. The amicable actor who starred as a teen on the popular sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun before finding big-screen success with critical darlings like Brick (2005), 500 Days of Summer (2009) and Inception (2010) hasn’t appeared onscreen in a film since 2016’s Snowden. (He did have a voice cameo in last year’s whodunit Knives Out.)
“I took a couple years off when I had kids,” Gordon-Levitt, 39, tells Yahoo Entertainment in a recent video chat interview for his return to film acting in the plane hijacking thriller 7500, where he was joined by writer-director Patrick Vollrath.
Gordon-Levitt has two sons with wife and tech CEO Tasha McCauley; they were born in 2015 and 2017. “I knew that [with] my first job back, I really wanted to focus on finding a creative challenge, and not think about, ‘Oh, what should my next career move be having taken some time off?’ I really just wanted to focus on the art of it and why I love acting so much.”
In the tense and sharply acted 7500, he stars as Tobias Ellis, an American pilot living in Germany whose flight from Berlin to Paris is highjacked by Islamic extremists. Nearly the entire film takes place within the tight confines of the plane’s cockpit as Tobias struggles to deal with hijackers forcing their way into the front of the plane and taking passengers hostage in the back.
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“It was really intense because we’re telling an extreme story,” Gordon-Levitt says of the production, which was also heavily improvised. “But it was really, really rewarding for me.”
It’s difficult to watch 7500 — or any terrorist hijacking thriller, for that matter — without thinking back to the tragic events of 9/11, which Vollrath says were at the top of his mind.
“I was researching and thinking of all the events and all the hijackings,” the German filmmaker says. “9/11 was a big influence on that. You cannot make and talk about hijacking an airplane and not talk about 9/11 in the same moment.”
Both Gordon-Levitt and Vollrath admit their film will be a tough sell for people looking at in-flight entertainment options in the months and years to come, though.
“I think it’s even forbidden,” Vollrath laughs. “Every airplane movie, you can’t watch on an airplane.”
7500 is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
— Video produced by Gisselle Bances