In a career composed of several very well-received and widely debated movies, the romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer is surprisingly one of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s most passionately debated films. The main crux of the debate among fans is who is the villain of the story, between the titular heroine Summer, played by Zooey Deschanel, and Tom, played by Gordon-Levitt. A recent Twitter post claimed Tom is the true villain, and the actor showed agreement with the sentiment.
“I approve this message.”
(500) Days of Summer told the story of Tom Hansen, as played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who works as a writer at a greeting car company. Tom’s life is turned upside down when he meets Summer Finn, played by Deschanel. The two enter into a relationship and Tom becomes deeply attached to Summer, despite her telling him she is not looking for a relationship.
When Summer inevitably dumps Tom, he is heartbroken, and pines over her for a very long time, before at long last finding some form of closure and even managing to wish Summer happiness for her life with her new husband.
Tom’s pining nature and Summer’s seemingly callous attitude towards him, and her willingness to get together with another man after telling Tom she wasn’t interested in marriage, has led many fans of the film to paint Summer as the villain of the piece. But Gordon-Levitt has always maintained that it was Tom’s attitude that was truly flawed, as he explained in a past Playboy interview.
“The (500) Days of Summer attitude of ‘He wants you so bad’ seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones. But I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is.”
“He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life. A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.”
“A part of the movie that’s less talked about is that once Zooey’s character dumps the guy, he builds himself up without the crutch of a fantasy relationship, and he meets a new girl.”
It is the nature of popular love stories to have some form of misunderstanding between the two leads serve as the issue around which the plot of the film is built. And as is the case with matters of the heart, viewers latch on to either side of the misunderstanding based on which character they identify with more.
In the case of (500 Days of Summer}, Tom’s dogged pursuit of Summer is viewed as romantic within the world of the story, even though, as the actor points, such behavior would be deeply unhealthy in real life. And for Gordon-Levitt, that places his sympathies firmly on the side of the character of Summer rather than Tom.
Additional quotes come direct from NME back in 2012.