The 80s are generally associated with an explosion of teen films due to the popularity of John Hughes and The Brat Pack, but the 90s had its fair share of teen-centric cinema. “Romeo + Juliet”, “Clueless”, “She’s All That”, and “American Pie” are just a few examples of the decade’s cult classics that focused on teens and all the drama they were bound to produce. For an entire decade, it seemed audiences could not get enough of teen angst, but not all young Hollywood actors have caught up to the trend.
In 1999, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the perfect choice for the next teen rom-com. She’s fresh-faced, adorable, and she’s been on a popular sitcom. Unfortunately, he had no interest in making teen films. “I wasn’t interested in doing ’10 Things I Hate About You’ when I first read the script,” he told Vanity Fair. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to do one of these high school romantic comedies. I want to do a serious movie. ‘” Gordon-Levitt made it clear that he is more interested in films that are deep and insightful. “When I was that age, I went to art house theaters and saw movies from Sundance, and saw ‘Sling Blade’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ and Soderbergh and Tarantino,” he says. “That’s what I want to do.”
While I’m a huge fan of 90s teen movies, it’s a fact that the genre didn’t appeal to many critics and most of the films fell short of the intellectual artistry that Gordon-Levitt was looking for. Because of this, he initially passed the audition for “10 Things I Hate About You,” but those in his inner circle saw the film’s potential and convinced him to audition.