Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Internet's Reaction to His 'Snowden' Voice: 'Nothing Surprises Me'

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·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
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When the first trailer for the Oliver Stone-directed biopic Snowden was released online in April, it presented a good look at how the film would shape NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s story as a thriller full of intrigue, technology, and even a little sex. But there was one element that dominated headlines and the Twittersphere: lead actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt going all-in with his interpretation of one of his subject’s most distinctive qualities — Snowden’s low-pitched, almost satirical “nerdy white guy” voice.

“Nothing Will Prepare You for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Snowden Voice,” read MTV’s peg. “Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nails Voice of Snowden,” opined Moviefone. And then there were the harsher critiques, with Inverse proclaiming the voice to be “ridiculous,” leading to takes like Bustle’s, noting how the trailer “Has the Internet Completely Divided Over His Voice.”

“You know, nothing surprises me as far as the way people respond to things,” Gordon-Levitt laughed when we asked him if he was taken aback by the passionate response to his Snowden voice when we caught up with him as he promoted the film at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday.

Related: Edward Snowden Beams Into Comic-Con Screening of Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’

It’s a bold choice that pays off in the larger context of the movie, as Gordon-Levitt gives a committed, steadily captivating performance in Snowden, which screened for a small audience following the Comic-Con panel and could very likely put the Looper actor in the awards discussion this fall.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in ‘Snowden’ (Open Road)

“I just listened to him a lot,” said Gordon-Levitt, who met with Snowden for four hours in Moscow prior to production. “You can find a lot of interviews and talks that he did. And there’s a great documentary, CitizenFour, which was really incredible. And I ripped a lot of audio and put it on my phone, put on the headphones and just listened.”

After the Thursday screening, Stone, Gordon-Levitt, and costar Shailene Woodley (who is also impressive as the Snowden’s longtime girlfriend, Lindsay Mills) were joined for a Q&A by Snowden himself, via Google Hangout from Moscow.

Related: Oliver Stone Calls Pokemon Go a ‘New Level of Invasion’ at Comic-Con ‘Snowden’ Panel

The politically divisive Snowden was asked what he thought about Gordon-Levitt’s impersonation, and his voice in particular. Snowden was initially non-committal, calling the experience of being a film subject “crazy and surreal.”

“But what I can say is some of my family members have said, ‘He sounds just like you.’ To me, the voice in my head doesn’t sound the same. But if he can pass the family test, he’s doing all right.”

Critics and audiences will probably agree.

Snowden opens Sept. 16. Watch the trailer: