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9 Things You Need To Know Before Seeing "Snowden," According To Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The actor came to BuzzFeed to talk about the new film, mass surveillance programs, and how his passwords are much harder now.

Last updated on July 3, 2018, at 1:52 p.m. ET

Posted on September 15, 2016, at 4:02 p.m. ET

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays the lead character in the new Oliver Stone film Snowden, stopped by BuzzFeed's NYC office for a Breakfast at BuzzFeed interview with editor-in-chief, Ben Smith.

Kate Bubacz / BuzzFeed News

Here’s what we learned about JGL, Edward Snowden, and the film during the interview.

Kate Bubacz / BuzzFeed News

1. Upon being offered the part, Gordon-Levitt didn't know exactly who Edward Snowden was.

"When Oliver Stone first offered me this job, first of all, I was just excited. But the next thought I had was, Wait, Edward Snowden? I know I've heard that name. Which one is he again? What did he do, exactly?"
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"When Oliver Stone first offered me this job, first of all, I was just excited. But the next thought I had was, Wait, Edward Snowden? I know I've heard that name. Which one is he again? What did he do, exactly?"

2. It was very important for him to get Snowden's voice right.

"He does have a very distinct way of talking. I think that’s indicative of a lot about him," Gordon-Levitt said. He ripped audio from Citizenfour, the documentary directed by Laura Poitras about her contact with Edward Snowden under the aforementioned alias, to help him nail the way in which Snowden speaks.
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

"He does have a very distinct way of talking. I think that’s indicative of a lot about him," Gordon-Levitt said. He ripped audio from Citizenfour, the documentary directed by Laura Poitras about her contact with Edward Snowden under the aforementioned alias, to help him nail the way in which Snowden speaks.

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3. While prepping for the film, Gordon-Levitt and Snowden had a four-hour meeting in Moscow.

"There's a stereotype and a prejudice I think that maybe I was guilty of, that people who are good at computers are socially awkward...and I was wondering would he be that way," Gordon-Levitt said. But, he added, Snowden was “really polite,” “even-keeled,” and “old-fashioned.”
Afp / AFP / Getty Images

"There's a stereotype and a prejudice I think that maybe I was guilty of, that people who are good at computers are socially awkward...and I was wondering would he be that way," Gordon-Levitt said. But, he added, Snowden was “really polite,” “even-keeled,” and “old-fashioned.”

4. He said that the meeting was low-key, but yes, he assumed he was being surveilled.

He didn’t have to wear a blindfold, but he did bring a pen and paper for note-taking instead of his phone.
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He didn’t have to wear a blindfold, but he did bring a pen and paper for note-taking instead of his phone.

5. When asked if he changed any of his own security measures after doing the movie, Gordon-Levitt responded:

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6. He revealed that his father is a journalist and he gained an appreciation for the profession during filming.

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7. But he said that he thinks that the mainstream media is "failing really miserably" these days.

Both right-wing and left-wing broadcast news outlets are just "trying to entertain people," Gordon-Levitt said.
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Both right-wing and left-wing broadcast news outlets are just "trying to entertain people," Gordon-Levitt said.

8. And he doesn’t think Trump would be the Republican presidential candidate without that cultural shift.

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9. Though Gordon-Levitt proudly said he voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and thinks he’s done a lot of great things, he said the mass surveillance program "was not one of them.”

Pool / Getty Images

Watch the interview in its entirety below.

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