NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been given the mantle of "the most extreme of patriots" by Hollywood actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays him in the biopic Snowden.
Snowden, which revolves around the leaks of the NSA files, was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 9 and is poised to hit the theaters a week later on Sept. 16.
The biopic sees 35-year-old Gordon-Levitt — of 3rd Rock from the Sun fame — bring to life the trials and tribulations of Snowden, as the movie charts a decade of the 33-year-old NSA contractor's life.
When asked about what Gordon-Levitt wanted to come across while portraying a controversial figure such as Snowden, the actor revealed that the primary thing for him was how much the ex-NSA contractor cared for the U.S.
Snowden is largely perceived as damaging to the U.S., someone who betrayed his own country, but the former NSA contractor does not see it in the same light. Gordon-Levitt also does not see him as a rogue. The actor went on to elaborate that Snowden is "the most extreme of patriots" in his opinion.
"I think there's two different kinds of patriotism and, you know, we were talking a second ago about how a drama shows an evolution of somebody. One kind of patriot just believes that everything their country does is right, no matter what, without asking any questions. But there is another kind of patriot which can only exist in a free country like the United States of America who holds the government accountable and who will ask questions. And this is what Edward Snowden has done in the most extreme of ways," notes the actor in an interview with Hollywood Reporter.
Gordon-Levitt believes that Snowden essentially risked his life to put the U.S. government accountable. Owing to this, the actor considers him an extreme type of a patriot. This thought and belief were central to what he wanted to come across and infuse in his portrayal of Snowden's character as well.
Gordon-Levitt was also able to identify with Snowden's disenchantment with the U.S. government after he watched James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, deny in front of a congressional committee that the NSA was indeed gathering data on innumerable Americans in secrecy.
Snowden the movie builds up to the 2013 events, when the NSA whistleblower fled the U.S. post exposing the government's surveillance activities to Glenn Greenwald, a journalist, and Laura Poitras, the filmmaker, whose documentary Citizenfour (also based on Snowden) won an Oscar.
Currently, Snowden lives in Russia under asylum with girlfriend Lindsay Mills after he fled from the U.S. He is wanted in the U.S. on espionage charges because he leaked confidential data related to government activities. Shailene Woodley essays the role of his girlfriend in the movie, which will hit the screens on Sept. 16.