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The Reinvention of Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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Norman Jean Roy/Details

If you're like me, I had mainly associated Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who prefers to be called Joe) with his role as the long-haired kid on "3rd Rock From the Sun" ... until he started popping up in indie flicks like "Brick" and "(500) Days of Summer," which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Now he's starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in "Inception," which hits theaters on July 16, but there was a time where the now 29-year-old actor worried that he was going to wind up in the "former child star" category.

See More Shots of JGL in Details

"I was scared and depressed for a while," he admits in the August issue of Details. "Not that I had any reason to be depressed -- I mean, I was going to college [at Columbia University] and everything. It was not like I was hungry. But absolutely. I was like 'I don't know if anybody's gonna let me act. They'll let me be in another sitcom, but I don't want to do that.'"

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Fortunately, Joe decided to reinvent himself. He quit acting for a couple of years, then began taking on unexpected roles like that of a gay hustler in 2004's "Mysterious Skin" and a tormented Iraq War veteran in "Stop-Loss." It seems there is no role too big -- or too small -- for Gordon-Levitt.

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Norman Jean Roy/Details

Although he loves being an actor, he doesn't love all the flicks that Hollywood churns out. That's why he started a website called hitRECord.org, where aspiring artists can collaborate. "If the goal is to get the best artists, actors, and filmmakers in the world to create the best movies, Hollywood does a decent job," he says. "[But] I think no one would disagree with me that it also makes a ton of bad movies and employs a bunch of hacks. There's a lot of stuff that gets created for the love of it, and there's a lot that really does get created with almost no love involved," he continues. "Just to make money."

Video: Behind the Scenes at JGL's Cover Shoot

Not surprisingly, in addition to bad films, Gordon-Levitt isn't crazy about the paparazzi. While he's the first to say he's not famous enough to be hounded by packs of photogs, he finds the American tabloid culture toxic. "I don't want to demonize anybody," he says. "But I do think that this notion that certain people are in a higher class than other people is unhealthy. We would be healthier as a people if we quit paying attention to that kind of bullshit and paid more attention to more pertinent things and more beautiful things."

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Norman Jean Roy/Details

Well said -- for a self-proclaimed pothead. "When I was in high school, I loved smoking weed," he reveals. "I loved it. But I cut myself to once a month. That was my rule. And so as the first of the month came closer, my friends would be like, 'All right, what's the plan this weekend?' And actually it's really cool -- when you do it that infrequently, you can really trip.  I still do that sometimes -- I go on little weedfests. I'm a pothead. That's my drug of choice."

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Visit Details.com to read the full interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or pick up the August issue, on newsstands now.

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