Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Credit: Merrick Morton

Remember the days before Inception and 500 Days of Summer — back when Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a cute, floppy-haired kid on 3rd Rock From the Sun? Turns out his famously long locks weren’t just an innocent fashion choice. “I grew my hair long so I could headbang,” says Gordon-Levitt. “It ended up being the hairstyle of my character [on the show], but I grew it long so I could headbang to bands like Metallica.”

The metal supergroup was also an inspiration for Gordon-Levitt’s latest role in Hesher, an indie drama about a bullied youngster (Devin Brochu) who gets unexpected mentoring from a rock-loving guru (Gordon-Levitt) and a grocery store clerk (Natalie Portman). “[Former Metallica Bassist] Cliff Burton was a big, big inspiration for my character,” says Gordon-Levitt. “The skull that Hesher has on his shoulder? Chris has the same one.” Unfortunately, the actor didn’t have time to get his real hair to guitar-god length for the movie.”It’s a wig. I can’t lie,” he admits. “I shot Hesher right before I shot Inception. All that hair would’ve taken years to grow.”