“Snowden” star Joseph Gordon-Levitt says he personally supports what Edward Snowden did in leaking classified NSA documents, but that doesn’t mean he sees the man as a hero, or that he thinks other people should even agree.
Gordon-Levitt plays the former NSA analyst in Oliver Stone‘s upcoming biopic, but he says that, as an actor, it’s not his job to think of his characters as so black and white.
“You can’t think of them in such simplistic terms as hero or villain,” Gordon-Levitt said in a recent interview with TheWrap. “Because human beings aren’t really that way. Everybody is more complicated than that. … I was playing the human being, I wasn’t playing the political symbol.”
“I personally support what he did, but that’s just my opinion, and I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that anybody should agree with me,” the actor said of Snowden’s actions. “You see so much about him in the media, but whether positive or negative, a lot of it is really simplistic.”
The rest of the cast agreed that even though Snowden has become such a divisive figure in American politics, Stone’s film allows people in the audience to make up their mind and form their own opinions about the character.
“That’s one of the really beautiful things that Oliver’s film does,” said Melissa Leo, who plays Laura Poitras, one of the journalists who received Snowden’s NSA leaks. “It really gets that information across. Edward Snowden is just a man, a young man. And a true patriot.”
“Oliver Stone for me, was one of my childhood filmmaking heroes,” said Zachary Quinto, who plays Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who also met with Snowden. “This feels like a real return to his wheelhouse in a lot of ways. A politically motivated, socially relevant film with incredible characters and a fascinated, intertwining narrative.”
Scott Eastwood also stars in the film as Trevor James, one of Snowden’s NSA colleagues. The actor said that Stone’s connections as a director helped inform both the film and his performance.
“The great thing about Oliver Stone is that he knows people from every walk of life,” Eastwood said, adding that one of Stone’s friends, a former NSA agent, helped walk him through some of the finer points of the job: “He showed us some interesting stuff, and kind of downloaded us on what’s what on the dark web.”