Joseph Gordon-Levitt might play Edward Snowden: great or awful casting?


I’m still attracted to and enchanted by Julian Assange, I will cop to that fully. I think Assange brilliantly played the American government and there probably will never be any charges brought against Assange in an American court. Which isn’t to say Assange is without flaws – he is a deeply flawed man, for sure. But I’m still interested in seeing what his next moves are, and I’m willing to defend him sometimes. Now, am I interested in Edward Snowden? Do I find him noble or righteous in any way? Not really. Just my opinion, but I think he’s guilty of cowardice and treason. But it seems like Hollywood is sort of interested in Snowden’s story, just like they were interested in Assange’s story. Except when I say “Hollywood,” I just mean Oliver Stone. Oliver Stone wants to make Snowden’s story into a movie. Starring Joseph Gordon Levitt?

Oliver Stone seems to have found the man to play NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in his next pic “The Snowden Files.” Sources tell Variety that Stone has offered the part to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and that the actor has agreed to do it. Though negotiations have not yet begun, both sides want the deal to happen.

Stone is writing and directing and will produce with Eric Kopeloff and Moritz Borman. Snowden’s story is now familiar to most: the former U.S. intelligence analyst released more classified documents than anyone since Daniel Ellsberg’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. He has been on the run ever since.

Stone acquired the rights to the book “Time of the Octopus” by Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, which is considered the closest thing to a documented account of the events since Snowden first released the documents. If the deal is made, production would likely begin at the end of the year or in the early first quarter of 2015.

[From Variety]

The Fifth Estate bombed at the box office, and that was the (biased) story of a man that still has significant support in the media and activist community. When Snowden ran away to Russia and started participating in Russian propaganda, I think any goodwill Snowden might have had was finally done. Considering Oliver Stone’s involvement in this project… it just reminds me of Oliver Stone’s reimagining of Lee Harvey Oswald. Snowden is the new patsy, the latest fall guy for nefarious governmental shenanigans? I really hope this project falls apart. I don’t want to see JGL play Snowden.

Photos courtesy of Getty, WENN.

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43 Responses to “Joseph Gordon-Levitt might play Edward Snowden: great or awful casting?”

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  1. Dani2 says:

    I love him so I’m really interested in seeing what he does with the role.

  2. Jules says:

    He could play a blank wall and I would watch him……………………huzza…………

    • Erinn says:

      I’d be right there watching with you. I love the guy. He’s one of the few celebs I can get giggly for.

  3. Lilacflowers says:

    I think JGL would do a nice and interesting job with the role. Stone’s involvement, however, guarantees the film will be overly long and boring.

  4. Jess G. says:

    It could just be me and I work for a news organization — but I don’t really want to see a movie about something that happened two years ago unless there is a really interesting angle. And this is still ongoing. I feel like I know a lot of the story… But I use movies for escapism, so…

    I love JGL though.

  5. Kddo says:

    Nay, in the looks department. Snowden is not as handsome, but closer in type to a Ryan Gossling. I think Snowden is legitimately a fall-guy, we don’t need Oliver Stone for that. Hopefully, if this project takes off, it isn’t a complete slant job.

  6. rin says:

    Cowardice and treason? He went up the chain and–ARGH! Cowardice and treason for telling us that the government is breaking the law????

    We should be blind to living in a new Soviet Union? What?

    Also JGL is hot. Looks like a dark haired Heath Ledger.

    • M.A.F. says:

      If he truly believed in what he was doing then he would have stayed to face the consequences. Instead, he ranway first to China then to Russia. So yes he is a cowdard and a traitor.

  7. Crocuta says:

    The problem with The Fifth Estate was that it didn’t know what it’s audience is. They tried to make Assange look bad, not realising that fans of Assange are really the main audience for a film about him. For the rest of the world the movie came too late. That and really bad directing = bomb.

    The Snowden film has to be careful not to make the same mistake … They have to calculate who the audience is and then take a stand. Other than that, I like JGL, I’m sure he’ll do a good job playing ES.

    • Sixer says:

      I think you have this exactly right.

      People who are against Assange and his work don’t want to see even a take-down film about him. They want to see a film about something else within that sphere – something documenting a clear victory for “their side”. Something like the success Tony Blair had in Sierra Leone, which paved the path to widespread liberal intervention. People who support Assange don’t want to see a film about him based on an inimical book and financed by DISNEY.

      That anyone thought there’d be an audience for that is almost laughable.

      Stone given his views and history, therefore, CAN make a film about Snowden and expect an audience. Whether or not it could possibly be any good at this early stage and with no resolution anywhere near, is quite another matter.

      • Chris says:

        In today’s paper our conservative Prime Minister was quoted as saying ‘we would have to sacrifice freedoms for security against terrorism in these darkening times’

        It’s a shame we can’t ever sacrifice some of the freedoms of the right wing press for the security of democracy.

  8. M.A.F. says:

    We do not need a movie about this guy. It was the same for the Assange movie, not needed.

  9. Kiddo says:

    “I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin’s evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it….In fact, Putin’s response was remarkably similar to Barack Obama’s initial, sweeping denials of the scope of the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs, before that position was later shown to be both untrue and indefensible.”

    • Sixer says:

      The thing that interests me about all this is the role of the internet. On the one side, the libertarians love it for the freeflow of information and the declining ability of governments to hide their nefarious dealings from the populace. On the other, it’s been harnessed by TPTB for mass surveillance (as Snowden says here) by ALL governments on a level even the Stasi couldn’t have imagined. We don’t need denunciation societies now: we’ve got the internet.

      • Kiddo says:

        Whew, got chills. Well done, Sixer.

      • Sixer says:

        I think it’s the most important aspect of the whole thing, to be honest, Kiddo. Much more important than this distracting and emotive talk of cowardice and treason, and more important even than the specifics of Iraq, the ME, a possible new Cold War, and all the rest of it.

        It’s the new checks and balances. And the sooner we realise that, the better. It’s why I’ll always broadly support the whistleblowers – regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant the individual personalities seem to be.

      • Kiddo says:

        You’re the best, Sixer.

      • Innie Outie says:

        The issue is that with Snowden’s consent or without it, Russian propaganda machine is using him for its own ends – and, given his position, he can’t do anything about it.

      • Kiddo says:

        While that may be true on some level, Innie, people who have followed this story know that all sides are using this as propaganda; the US and Russia.

      • Sixer says:

        I think it’s true but a mere sideshow, Innie. As Kiddo notes, all sides are using Snowden for propaganda and it should also be said that the US/UK NSA/GCHQ operation and concomitant media propaganda is considerably more advanced, widespread and sophisticated than anything Russia manages. That’s not a defence of Russia, btw. At all. It’s just an acknowledgement that “we” are better at it than “they” are.

        The real issue is the creation and management of big data and the checks and balances we should employ to deal with it: from total freeflow (risks anarchy) to lockdown surveillance (result: totalitarianism). The battle Snowden is in isn’t between the US and Russia. The battle is about the flow of information and how the executive and judicial branches of our governments react to it.

        ETA: And we can also remember that freeflowing information can be a good thing. Those nasty gaybashers in Philly were caught by open data (in the guise of social media) by concerned citizens just the other day. Nothing in and of itself is inherently good or bad. The use of a thing, and how we regulate that use, is where morality comes in.

      • Innie Outie says:

        @Kiddo and @Sixer: thanks for all this info, ladies, I haven’t been following the American side of the story that much to be honest, so it’s very insightful and I agree with all the points you’ve made.

        I guess anything to do with Putin’s propaganda and what he’s doing now in Russia is way too painful for me and I just have a kind of knee-jerk reaction to anything to do with him. My mother tongue is Russian, I deliberately watch – or rather torture myself with – official Russian news to keep tags on Kremlin’s agenda and although I do not live in Russia, I have friends and relatives there. Russian propaganda – not just the stuff related to national security and information management, but the whole propaganda machine – might not be as sophisticated or advanced, but it’s much more poisonous, hysteric, deceitful beyond belief, hideously jingoistic and, in virtual absence of independent media, has immense power over average Russian citizens.

    • stellalovejoydiver says:

      According to whistleblower Edward Snowden, young NSA employees occasionally get hold of nude photos while searching through personal data and, if the person is attractive, the photos get passed around the office.
      “You’ve got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old, they’ve suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records. Now in the course of their daily work, they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sense. For example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation, but they’re extremely attractive. So what do they do? They turn around and they show their coworker. And their coworker says ‘Oh hey, that’s great. Show it to Bill down the way.’ And then Bill sends it to George, George sends it to Tom, and sooner or later this person’s whole life has been seen by all of these other people.”

  10. maybeiamcrazy says:

    I love movies about real people or events but it is too early. Snowden’s story is not even over yet. The movie would be so unnecessary at this point.

  11. Lilacflowers says:

    For Platoon, Stone made the actors spend several weeks doing “boot camp” in the Philippines. Is he going to make JGL spend a month living in an airport in Moscow for this one?

  12. Innie Outie says:

    Considering that Stone has been quite vocal about his political views, including criticising American press for “distorting” the image of Russia and questioning the US version of MH17 downing, I am not at all surprised that he decided to make a film about Snowden. I agree that he’s a more controversial figure than Assange, but I still have little respect for anyone who’s working on Putin’s side these days =/ Still, will I watch it? Probably yes.

    • Kiddo says:

      He’s not working with Putin. He is trapped in Russia.

      • Innie Outie says:

        I agree with you – he’s trapped there, and his words, opinions and his very existence are used by Russia for its own ends. I should have said I pity him now, actually.

      • scylla74 says:

        How people don’t acknowledge that nobody takes him because US governement bullies other countries is beyond me.

      • Innie Outie says:

        @scylla74, I acknowledge that, and I was wrong to say that he actually works on Putin’s side. As I said – willingly or not, he’s part of that machine. Also I think it’s worth noting that Putin is just as huge a bully as US government – but he’s also much more dangerous because, being a highly reactionary, corrupted and authoritarian president, he is now the sole decision-maker in Russia, tends to make last-moment decisions and does not hesitate to use military force and sacrifice people’s lives.

  13. Selina says:

    Perfect casting–just needs to lighten his hair.

    Altho, Hayden Christensen as evident in Shattered Glass would also have been perfect:

  14. Jess says:

    I don’t care what he does, I’ll be watching it! He’s so cute and seems down to earth.

  15. AnnaMae says:

    I’d watch this guy in pretty much anything. Loved him since his days as Tommy Solomon.

  16. CooCooCatchoo says:

    Robert Pattinson looks so much like Snowden. Remarkably so. I think that would be an interesting casting choice.

  17. Ice Queen says:

    I really like him. So yeah, why not!