Joseph Gordon-Levitt


Gordon-Levitt in 2012, photo by Debby Wong/

Birth Name: Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt

Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: February 17, 1981

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an American actor, filmmaker, singer, and entrepreneur. He is known for playing Tommy on 3rd Rock from the Sun, as well as for his roles in the films 10 Things I Hate About You, Mysterious Skin, Brick, The Lookout, Stop-Loss, (500) Days of Summer, Inception, 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, Looper, Don Jon (which he also directed), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, The Walk, Snowden, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, among many others.

Joseph is the son of Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt. His brother was photographer and fire spinner Daniel Gordon-Levitt, and his maternal grandfather was director Michael Gordon. Joseph is married to businessperson Tasha McCauley, with whom he has two children.

Joseph’s parents are both Jewish. His father’s family were Russian Jews and Polish Jews, while his mother’s family were Lithuanian Jews, Romanian Jews, and Russian Jews. A picture of Joseph’s parents can be seen here.

Joseph’s paternal grandfather was Milton R. Levitt (born Milton Levitz, the son of Louis Levitz and Fraudel “Fannie” Isaacson). Milton was born in Ohio, to Russian Jewish parents. Louis’s parents were Meyer Levitz and Lena Friedsohn (the daughter of Nathan Friedsohn and Rachel). Joseph’s great-grandmother Fraudel was the daughter of Dave Isaacson and Irene/Lena Ida/Riva Feinstock. While census records list Fraudel as having been born in Russia, one source states that Fraudel was born in then-Ottoman Palestine, in 1894. At the time, known as the First Aliyah, many Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe had moved to the area.

Joseph’s paternal grandmother was Celia Roth (the daughter of F. Charles Roth and Fanny/Fradel Mekel). Celia was born in Pennsylvania, to Polish Jewish parents. Fanny was the daughter of Boruch Mekel and Sarah.

Joseph’s maternal grandfather was film director Michael Gordon (born Irving Kunin Gordon, the son of Paul Gordon and Eva Kunen). Michael was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Paul and Eva were Jewish. They are listed as being born in Russia in some records, Lithuania in another record, and in yet another record, Paul is listed as having been born in Russia, while Eva is listed as having been born in Pennsylvania, to parents who were born in Russia. Paul’s parents were Leyb/Louis Gordon and Rachel Gviemer/Gviener/Greiner.

Joseph’s maternal grandmother was Elizabeth A. Cohn (the daughter of Isaac “Isak” Cohn/Cohen and Mollie Fineberg). Elizabeth was born in Ohio. Isaac was a Romanian Jewish immigrant, the son of Frank/Efraim Cohn and Hanna/Hena. Mollie was a Russian Jewish immigrant.

Gordon-Levitt in 2010, kathclick/

Sources: Genealogies of Joseph Gordon-Levitt –

Marriage record of Joseph’s paternal grandparents, Milton Levitz (later Milton Levitt) and Celia Roth –

Joseph’s paternal grandfather, Milton Levitz, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Joseph’s paternal grandmother, Celia Roth, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Joseph’s maternal grandparents, Michael Gordon (“Mickeal Gordon”) and Elizabeth Gordon, on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Joseph’s maternal grandfather, Irving Kunin Gordon (later Michael Gordon), on the 1920 U.S. Census –
Irving Kunin Gordon on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Obituaries of Joseph’s maternal grandfather, Michael Gordon –

Joseph’s maternal grandmother, Elizabeth A. Cohn, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Joseph is able to speak French and is a self-confessed Francophile. The YouTube link below shows an interview with Joseph on a television show where he speaks French –


Curious about ethnicity

203 Responses

  1. is berry says:

    he looks like Japanese / Asian part.

    • Oaken05 says:

      Nobody cares, recreated troll. If you don’t want to discuss the concept of ethnicity – if it does not interest you – then you have no place, here.

      • jackson9 says:

        1. there is nothing wrong with is berry’s question 2. shut up with political comments. you don’t know any of us or our political affiliations. pretending you do adds to your stupidity. 3. you’re a troll. not a clever one. you keep repeating the same annoying talking points. go away!

      • is berry says:

        what’s the problem with my question ??? Can’t I interact? how much arrogance.

      • jackson9 says:

        is berry, don’t take the accusations seriously. koolaidman is a clown

      • Oaken05 says:

        “Why would I have internet in discussing on a topic that doesn’t exist?”

        If you don’t have any interest in discussing the topic, then, yeah, WHY ARE YOU HERE, LEE? That’s literally what a troll does. A troll comments in places where they have no interest in the topic and/or to simply disrupt.

        Again, if you have no interest in the topic, take your own damn advice and scram, troll.

  2. andrew says:

    A speculation.

    He may slightly looks like his father, but not much. Again, a weird combination of features he took after his family.

  3. guzel says:

    Jews originated from asia. But it doesnt mean he looks like east asian. Ashkenazi jews is mixed european and west asian/middle eastern. There is some people who have small eyes in middle east.

  4. Yeravam says:

    There are times when I think he looks East Asian, and other times German or Dutch.

    • Lee says:

      Europeans and East, South Asians are genetically related, how many times do i gotta post this? Lol the R hablogroup originally originated in Asia and is a common hablogroup in Europe.

      • Yeravam says:

        Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an Ashkenazi Jew, meaning he’s Levantine-Middle Eastern (the maternal haplogroups are mixed with Greeks and Italians though).

        • Lee says:

          Um.. NO “Ashkenazi” Jews are descendants of the merger of ancient JUDEANS and ROMANS so technically they’re European and “Middle-Easterners” are West Asians.

          • Yeravam says:

            Why the quotation marks around Ashkenazi and Middle Easterners?

            Ashkenazi Jews are part of the Jewish diaspora, an ethnic group that originates in the Middle East. That’s West Asia. That means Ashkenazi Jews are West Asians.

            Ashkenazi Jews are called ‘diaspora Jews’ in every country EXCEPT Israel for a reason.

          • Yeravam says:

            Also, while Ashkenazi Jews did mix with Europeans (Greeks and Italians), it amounts to less than half of their ancestry. Usually it’s around 30 to 45 percent.

            Besides, African-Americans mixed with Europeans, and largely for the same reasons Ashkenazim did, but no one calls them Europeans. Native Americans also mixed with Europeans, and for very similar reasons, but no one calls them Europeans either. Same with Filipinos, indigenous South Americans, Sephardi Jews, and so on.

            Romani Indians were in roughly the same boat as Ashkenazi Jews. No one denies that they are Asian. Even the government of India recognizes them as “children of India”.

          • passingtime85 says:

            Yeravam I don’t care for the facts and figures you share so often. I don’t believe the numbers you quote, reflect the genetic story accurately.

            Paternally AJs are 50-85%, Mid East/North African/Horn of Africa in origin. Depending on what studies you look at those are the extremes in either direction that are the most widely accepted figures.

            Although AJs’ maternal haplogroups are 60-80%, again the extremes, of a non-Levant origin. Yet you don’t mention that. I’m not trying upset you, or bother you, or share misinformation, but that’s what I thought the research shows. I often wonder why you don’t present that along with the other information you use to inform people. If I’m incorrect, tell me. Maybe I’m just recalling facts incorrectly.

          • Yeravam says:

            “I don’t care for the facts and figures you share so often.”

            If you don’t care about facts, then there’s absolutely no point talking with you at all.

            Your Y-DNA claims are way off, by the way. The paternal line is solidly Levantine. It never dips to the 50% mark. The maternal line is more mixed, although K (a Middle Eastern haplogroup) is very common. My mother is K.

          • passingtime85 says:

            I didn’t say I didn’t care about facts, I said I don’t care for the facts you share. I don’t care for the way you word yourself I should have said. You omit data, or gloss over what I consider a significant attribute to the AJ story.

            My figures are not way off. 50% is the lowest I’ve seen, and 85% is the highest I’ve seen in regards to our paternal haplogroups. I was just stating some fact, figures from studies, I wasn’t in the lab with anyone vetting the data however, and studies counter/disprove/reinforce one another from time to time.

            More mixed for the maternal side? That’s a mild remark when several studies show at least 60% is not of mid-East origin, and I think one study pushed that number to 80%, which is why I mentioned it. Any way don’t you mention it more often? It is a significant admixture.

          • Yeravam says:

            What did I gloss over, or omit? I’ve pointed out in every comment I’ve made on this subject that Ashkenazim mixed with southern Europeans. No one is denying this.

            But it does not negate the fact that we are Middle Eastern, nor does it make us in any way “indigenous” to Europe. We are a Levantine-Middle Eastern population that moved INTO Europe because of exile. Hence, we call Europe ‘diaspora’. This is very, very, very basic anthropology.

            The way you phrased your post, and the attitude you’ve exhibited in all of our previous encounters, indicate that you don’t wish to accept that reality. That’s what I was responding to.

            You personally feel more European. Fine. Whatever. You are entitled to your own opinions. But not your own facts.

            On every Y-DNA chart I’ve seen, Ashkenazi Jews (and Moroccan Jews) are right there with Lebanese and Syrians. This means that our Y-DNA is predominantly Canaanite; we’re actually even closer to Levantines than Mizrahi Jews (who never “left” the region) are.

            The maternal line isn’t 60-80% European. The geneticist that arrived at this conclusion falsely understood K to be a European haplogroup, which it’s not. It’s a Near Eastern one. The mtDNA is about 50% European (the Y-DNA is nearly 100% Middle Eastern) and our closest relatives in terms of mtDNA are, actually, Palestinians.

            If only this site would let me post the charts.

          • passingtime85 says:

            AJs are not just* Middle eastern. They’re a distinctly different ethnicity than the original Hebrews, Israelites, Judeans, or which ever of the monikers our ancestors you prefer. The admixture is too high to just to be considered Levantine proper. AJs are easily distinguishable by an admixture test. Submit a sample, and you you get placed in the European bracket.

            Almost all modern Jews have roots in the mid-east, but you can’t just say, we’re Middle Eastern, end of story. Even if that’s not what you say, it is how you say it, over and over “we’re middle easteners, we’re middle easterners we’re middles easterners” is the gist of all your posts.

            In the US and Canada if you can prove some link to an indigenous tribe, a name on a census from your family tree, or a marriage license, you get to enroll as a member of the tribe.

            You can go to reservations, tribal festivals aka pow wows, across the continental US and meet card carrying members of First Nations all over the place. These people can range from lily white, to burnt red, to black as coal. Technically and legally if they’ve been enrolled in a tribal census, they’re “officially” native.

            Yet any person can plainly tell who is mostly, if not all, native and who’s been watered down beyond recognition.

            AJs HAVE NOT been watered down beyond recognition, BUT I would say a percentage a bit higher than 50%, of the populace looks out of place to me when comparing/contrasting them to the majority of Levantines that have little to, no influx of European genes.

            You, to me, are reminiscent of the several blonde haired, blue eyed people that tell they’re Cherokee. Sure, you may have the roots, but look in the mirror, you’re not really Cherokee, don’t wave that stupid card in my face.

            We’re not totally Middle Eastern. That doesn’t mean Israel is an invalid state full of pretenders, which seems to be your primary contention in this discussion. All it means is we’re a bit watered down compared to our cousins. Haplogroup wise, strong paternal roots, much weaker maternal roots, and an admixture result that places us in, or at least towards Europe.

          • ElectricShark says:

            The comparison with Native Americans is overstated. At this point the picture that has emerged from the last couple decades of pop. gen. literature is pretty clear that Ashkenazi Jews are about 50% middle-eastern.

            “the populace looks out of place to me when comparing/contrasting them to the majority of Levantines that have little to, no influx of European genes.”

            Yeah, but now YOU are omitting something. The admixture went both ways. Ashkenazim picked up (mostly Southern) European admixture but Palestinians and other most other Southern Levantines also picked up admixture from the Arabian peninsula. There’s a good and relatively recent blogpost about this from Razib Khan (search for “The Origin Of The Ashkenazi Jews In Early Medieval Europe”). Ashkenazim don’t look so out of place next to Samaritans.

        • andrew says:

          How many times should we read again that crap about the mixing of Levantines men with Greek/Italian women?

          Do you really believe to that made-up stuff or it’s simply autism?

          Otherwise how do you explain the recurrence of phenotypes who can not be the product of such ethnic background?

          Are you just dumb or plain stupid?

          • passingtime85 says:


            “Overall, we estimate that most (>80%) Ashkenazi mtDNAs were assimilated within Europe.”

          • Yeravam says:

            Every DNA study has said the same thing: Ashkenazi Jews are a product of Levantine men (and some women) moving INTO Europe and marrying southern European women.

            Perhaps if you weren’t a raging bigot and you did ample research, you’d know that.

          • passingtime85 says:

            Who’s a bigot Andrew? Nah. I think he just doesn’t like you. Not sure why he’s getting pissy with me though.

          • andrew says:


            I like how the abstract uses adjectives like controversial, enigmatic, contested etc.

            It means not even science has a univocal view about this subject

          • passingtime85 says:

            True. It’s not concrete, and science is always getting more precise. The studies from 2002 on though, seem to over and over again surmise that only ~40% of the maternal haplogroups are rooted in the mid east.

            The big snag between the numbers,60% vs 80% European, seems to be whether or not a few subdivisions of haplogroup K are Mid-east or South European. Even with considering them Levant in origin, all the AJs that carry, and are descended from the K haplogroups, with N, still only accounts for ~40% of the total population.

            It’s odd, if you read the studies and look at the tables/charts/graphs, the studies aren’t particularly interested in the other 60%. They consistently look at K1a1b1a, K1a9, K2a2, N1b2.

            I feel a bit left out since my MtDna clade is HV1.

          • passingtime85 says:

            Correction. My father’s MtDna clade was HV1, mine is A2i.

          • ElectricShark says:

            “Otherwise how do you explain the recurrence of phenotypes who can not be the product of such ethnic background?”

            You think your casual observations about phenotypes are more insightful than decades of pop. gen studies? LOL.
            Fortunately for you, though, there are some people who actually know something about the subject who have already dwelled on this question: (skip to around 32:50

          • andrew says:

            @ElectricShark (nice nickname)

            About your questions, I do think so. Absolutely, of course.

            Bye bye.

          • passingtime85 says:

            I apologize why are you bringing Saudi Arabians and Yemenites, the bulk of the populace of the peninsula, to this conversation? Because they influenced the phenotype of their Northern neighbors?

            I think they do. Opinions vary I suppose.

          • ElectricShark says:

            Very elegant exit from the debate. Bravo.

          • ElectricShark says:

            I was calibrating your overcorrection of Yeravam’s point. Your obvious implication was that Ashkenazim had too much non-Levantine admixture to still be considered Levantines. (I never said anything about phenotype, just directly responded to what you wrote.) You criticized Yeravam for omitting relevant information, so I felt it’s only fair to point out the same issue in your rebuttal. Most modern Levantines have significant non-Levantine ancestry which makes the comparison with Levantines broadly in this context–whether you meant it phenotypically or otherwise–somewhat disingenuous.

          • andrew says:


            I didn’t exit from the debat. I have my point of view.

          • passingtime85 says:

            Good point. I actually just forgot to consider that, I was inaccurate but I wasn’t trying to hide information. But that said I refer to this


            That seems to suggest the populations are still fairly distinct from one another, there’s overlap just like many ethnic groups that are close proximity to one another, but seems to me fair amount of separation.

            Maybe I’m wrong, maybe the study is wrong, maybe my interpretation of the data is wrong. Idk you tell me, I’m just a layman that takes in available data, not a geneticist, so I’m willing to shift my views when more information is presented. ​

            The podcast you shared was funny, and appreciated, for the mere fact the host asked why are Jews white, or how, or when did that occur? The response, because the traits became prevalent because it’s reflective of specifically chosen traits.

            So just imagining 2000 years ago Italians or Greeks ask the Jewish merchants what type of wife are you looking for? Fair/pale with blue eyes, must have been the number one response. Of course this is hyperbole, but it’s as fair a scenario as any, just based on modern frequency.

  5. mode0001 says:

    His mother and father are Jewish. He has the color and the eyes.

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