Joseph's parents, Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt, met as political activists in California. Gordon ran for Congress, in 1970, with the Peace and Freedom Party. Both are founders of the Progressive Jewish Alliance.

Graduated from Van Nuys High School with honors in June 1999.

Began acting at the age of six with auditioning and landing small roles in commercials and television until he landed his breakout role in 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996).

Joseph's paternal grandfather, Milton Levitt, was born Milton Levitz in Ohio; Milton's father, Louis Levitz, was a Russian Jewish immigrant, and Milton's mother, Fraudel "Fannie" Isaacson, was born in 1894, in then-Ottoman Palestine, to a Russian Jewish family (that wave of movement to the area was known as the "First Aliyah"). Joseph's paternal grandmother, Celia Roth, was born in Pennsylvania, to Polish Jewish parents. Joseph's maternal grandfather, Michael Gordon, was born Irving Kunin Gordon in Maryland, to a Jewish family from Lithuania and Russia, while Joseph's maternal grandmother, Elizabeth A. Cohn, was born in Ohio, to a Romanian Jewish father and a Russian Jewish mother. Joseph's grandfather Michael Gordon was a prominent Hollywood film director, who directed such classic films as Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), Pillow Talk (1959), Portrait in Black (1960), and many others. His career was crippled when he was blacklisted during the McCarthy-era "Red Scare" panic that swept the US in the 1950s.

After spending six seasons on 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996), he attended Columbia University in New York City. He studied history, literature and French poetry.

Auditioned for the role of Elder Aaron Davis in Latter Days (2003) before winning the role of Elder Paul Ryder.

His favorite actors include Daniel Day-Lewis, Warren Oates, Gary Oldman, and Gena Rowlands.

He appeared in a preschool production of "The Wizard of Oz" before he began acting professionally.

Was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, but moved to New York City after attending college at Columbia University.

Good friends with Mysterious Skin (2004) co-star, Michelle Trachtenberg.

Was ranked #6 on Entertainment Weekly's '30 Under 30' the actors list (2008).

Had an older brother, Dan Gordon-Levitt, who passed away in October 2010. He was a photographer and a world-renowned fire spinner.

Joseph was nominated for a Tony Award in 2009 for Best Special Theatrical Event with his fellow producers of the Broadway show "Slava's Snowshow".

Originally, James Franco was set to play the role of Arthur in Inception (2010); however, due to scheduling conflicts, James was forced to drop out of the film and the director of the film, Christopher Nolan, later gave the role to Joseph.

Enjoys playing the drums and the guitar.

Good friends with Channing Tatum and David Krumholtz. Also friends with Leonardo DiCaprio, Zooey Deschanel, Anne Hathaway, and Emily Blunt.

Joseph is often said to bear a striking resemblance to his 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) co-star, Heath Ledger. Both actors also played significant roles in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy with Heath as Batman's nemesis, The Joker, in The Dark Knight (2008) and Joseph as Batman's ally, Officer John Blake, in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

He has said that he has been told many times by producers that he needed to pack on some weight because he appeared "too skinny" on screen. He did bulk up recently, but only to more greatly resemble a young Bruce Willis in their film Looper (2012).

Speaks French.

He is entirely of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

Beijing, China: Filming his movie Looper (2012). [April 2011]

London, England, United Kingdom: Filming The Dark Knight Rises (2012). [May 2011]

When Marion Cotillard was honored at Hollywood Film Festival in 2012, he presented the tribute to her in French, Cotillard's native language. Levitt and Cotillard were co-stars in Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

Grew up with Beverley Mitchell. They attended the same acting class for many years as aspiring child actors.

He has appeared in six projects that featured a number in the titles: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996), 500 Days of Summer (2009), 50/50 (2011), and 7500 (2019).

Has starred in three films with good friends Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway. He and Tatum starred in Stop-Loss (2008) and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009). He and Hathaway starred in Havoc (2000) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and all three of them starred together in Don Jon (2013) (which Levitt wrote and directed).

He and his good friend Zooey Deschanel starred in two films together: Manic (2001) and 500 Days of Summer (2009).

Always wears colorful, mismatched socks as a tribute to his late brother.

Born on exactly the same date as Paris Hilton.

His acting mentor is John Lithgow.

In 2000 Gordon-Levitt attend Columbia University. At that time, actors Rider Strong, Julia Stiles and Anna Paquin were all registered students at the university.

As of 2021, he has appeared in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Inception (2010), Lincoln (2012) and The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020).