Joseph Gordon-Levitt says smoking pot with Snowden director Oliver Stone was a unique experience

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated December 01, 2020 10:30 PM
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Credit: Michael Muller/Playboy

Joseph Gordon-Levitt says he has a secret weapon that helps him think on a higher plane.

“When I smoke weed I’m more liable to make connections I wouldn’t otherwise make,” he tells Playboy in its October issue. “Sometimes those connections are ludicrous. But sometimes they’re great. You’re like, ‘Oh s—, I might not have thought of that,’ and it actually makes sense in the morning.”

The Night Before star, 34, also revealed he’s smoked marijuana with Oliver Stone – who directed him in the Edward Snowden biopic out next year – and that getting high with the controversial director was an “awesome” and thought-provoking experience.

“With Oliver it was really nice because most of the time we were in this kind of high-stakes situation of working, and when we were smoking, we just smoked and watched a couple of movies a few times,” says Gordon-Levitt, who plays the titular role in Snowden. “He’ll say s— people don’t say. If I laughed at something while we were watching a movie, he would be like, ‘Why are you laughing?’ … He’s always kind of nudging you.”

The new father also says he supports Snowden, who made headlines in 2013 for releasing documents detailing two NSA surveillance programs authorized by Congress that he felt intruded on Americans’ right to privacy.

“I’m so grateful to have been born and raised here, and for the freedoms and opportunities that have been afforded me, which I wouldn’t have gotten were I born in most other places in the world,” Gordon-Levitt says. “But I also want to raise my hand and say so if the principles that are the foundation of what our country is about are being violated.”

“The government is not supposed to be the one with the power,” he continues. “That’s the whole principle of democracy, of the United States, of the American Revolution, the American experiment, you could say. The people are supposed to be the ones in control. The government serves them. The Edward Snowden story exemplifies that. It’s a chilling example.”

The actor next appears onscreen in another biopic titled The Walk, in which he portrays famed high-wire walker Philippe Petit. The film hits theaters on Oct. 9.

Gordon-Levitt learned to walk on a tightrope from Petit himself, and says he was surprised, though not entirely pleased, to learn how much they had in common.

“To be honest, he drove me crazy at times,” he says. “He’s someone who doesn’t relax until he’s accomplished whatever’s in his head. Philippe’s an absolutist. There are upsides and downsides to that way of thinking, and I suspect I saw a little too much of myself in him. I understand what it means to work and work on something and look up and go, ‘F—, I’ve been doing this for 18 hours straight.’ ”