Joseph Gordon-Levitt is currently starring as former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Super Pumped, which doesn’t seem to be making much of a dent amidst all the other shows about scammers and/or Big Tech bros airing right now. But that isn’t on JGL, he’s very good as the detestable Kalanick, it’s more about oversaturation and Showtime’s smaller cultural footprint compared to, say, HBO. And JGL is already moving on, lining up a new television gig starring as Johnny Carson in a series from Deadwood creator David Milch and director Jay Roach. The series, called King of Late Night, doesn’t have a broadcast home yet, but you have to think someone will snap it up quick given the talent involved.
It sounds like the series will span decades of Carson’s life as he rises to the top of late-night television and will explore the tension between Carson’s fame and his private life. He was notoriously private—even when documentarian Peter Jones finally got permission to make a documentary about Carson’s life, a couple of his former wives and several of his children opted not to speak on the record, to honor Carson’s privacy. That makes JGL an especially good choice to play Carson, he’s been famous most of his life, yet keeps his personal life pretty well out of the spotlight. He’s intimately familiar with this tension and the demands of both a public career and a private family life. I don’t really care how much JGL does or does not look like Johnny Carson, I’m interested to see what he brings to the idea of the Johnny/John public-private divide, and how his own experiences shape his performance.