Posted on March 12, 2013 at 7:36 AM
AUSTIN, Texas—First, he agreed to cut some of the graphic sex scenes. Now, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is trimming the title of his directorial debut.
His racy comedy, originally called “Don Jon’s Addiction,” has been streamlined to just “Don Jon.”
Outside its screening at the South by Southwest film festival Monday night, Gordon-Levitt said he altered the name because some people mistakenly believed the film is about sex or porn addiction.
“I called it ‘Don Jon’s Addiction’ because there’s this central symbol in the movie of this rut and this habit that Jon is in,” said Gordon-Levitt, who also stars in the film. “It’s about a guy getting out of this rut, learning to be present and have more engaged and realistic relationships.”
It’s the story of a modern-day Don Juan, a New Jersey lady’s man who prefers porn to actual sex—even though he’s having no shortage of the real thing.
Gordon-Levitt first announced the title change via Facebook, posting that the comedy is actually about “how men and women treat each other, and how the media we consume can create unrealistic expectations that we put on one another.”
Still, Gordon-Levitt, who previously starred in “Inception,” “50/50” and “(500) Days of Summer,” had already said he was going to remove some of the sex in “Don Jon” to ensure it maintained an “R” rating.
“That was always the premise,” he said Monday. “In my original script, there’s a note that says, ‘This is how we’re going to do this, we’re going to license real pornography clips and alter them such that they fit into an R-rated movie.’
“I never wanted to make something that was overly provocative, I never wanted to shock people,” Gordon-Levitt said. “I wanted this to be a pop movie, a mainstream movie.”
The version that played in Austin was edited from its January debut at the Sundance festival but is still a work in progress, Gordon-Levitt said.
Brie Larson, of “21 Jump Street” fame, plays Gordon-Levitt’s sister.
“Those are always my favorite films, the ones that leave people divided at the end because they’re raising questions, not giving you some sort of opinion,” she said.
The movie also features Tony Danza, who joined Gordon-Levitt and Larson on the red carpet, and Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore who did not. Danza noted that he first acted with an adolescent Gordon-Levitt about 20 years ago in the film “Angels in the Outfield.”
“If every first-time director was like him, they probably wouldn’t talk about first-time directors anymore,” Danza said. “He’s so sure-handed, it’s almost maddening.”
Danza said some people have compared “Don Jon” to an updated “Saturday Night Fever” because “it’s a moment in our time, in our culture and it gives us insight into what’s going on.”
“And he’s done it in a way that makes you laugh,” Danza said. “If there are any messages, they go down a lot easier because there’s a little sugar with the medicine.”