“They sent me the script, and the first thing I thought was ‘Wow, Joseph wrote this?’” says Danza. “Because it’s really hard to write a script that captures the moment of the culture in a provocative manner, is funny and actually has something to say. I have a paternal thing for Joseph because we worked together when he was 12 [in 1994’s Angels in the Outfield]. He was serious and talented, but he was also a great kid with great parents. Before he cast me, though, he talked to me via Skype, because I think he wanted to get a look at me and make sure I could pull off the part. I’m thrilled to be part of this movie. It’s a murderer’s row of actors.”
Because of its risque subject matter, Gordon-Levitt kept the budget for Don Jon low (“about half of what  Days of Summer cost,” he says) and financed it independently, so he would be able to retain complete creative control. After its premiere at the Sundance International Film Festival in January, when it was called Don Jon’s Addiction, the film was snapped up for distribution by Relativity Media for a reported $4 million (plus a commitment of $25 million in advertising). “The movie that is coming out in theaters is, frame for frame, exactly the movie I wanted to make,” he says. “If we had spent more money on it, I would have had to deal with people telling me to change things, or that market research showed females 18-34 were not responding to a particular scene. There was none of that.”
Gordon-Levitt is taking an active role in promoting the film, maintaining the fictional Twitter account @DonJon, running a Don Jon Tumblr account, participating in an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) session on Reddit and even placing ads for the movie on real porn sites. The actor is throwing that same kind of creativity into his production company hitRECord.org, an online collaborative of artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers. In January, the company will premiere a TV series on the newly launched Pivot cable channel that aims to reinvent the variety-show format with a mixture of short films, interviews and musical performances. Gordon-Levitt, who has been performing several concerts around the country in preparation for the TV program, says he likes throwing acoustic covers of random pop songs into his set lists. Several of them (including his versions of Madonna’s Express Yourself, Nirvana’s Lithium and Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance) have gone viral on YouTube.
“Sometimes at those live performances, I like to do something that is not for work,” he says. “It’s just a fun thing to do for the audience — a way to thank them for turning out. I am really busy these days, but I’m also having a great time.”