Hollywood Found the Perfect Smug Prick to Play Uber Founder Travis Kalanick

Hollywood Found the Perfect Smug Prick to Play Uber Founder Travis Kalanick
Photo: Rich Fury, Getty Images

Fresh off of playing a smug prick prosecutor in Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, Joseph Gordon-Levitt will lend his considerable talents to portraying former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a new Showtime series from the creators of Billions. 

Variety announced the casting news on Monday, saying the show will be based on New York Times reporter Mike Isaac’s book Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, and it “will depict the roller-coaster ride of the upstart transportation company, embodying the highs and lows of Silicon Valley.”

Your mileage may vary, but I think this is inspired casting. He looks a bit like Kalanick in the way that a Hollywood actor is capable of looking like an average person. And like the Uber founder, JGL is extremely annoying. It hasn’t always been this way, the guy can act. But his reach often exceeds his grasp.

The point at which I turned against Gordon-Levitt was when he tried to pull off a ridiculous French accent in 2015’s The Walk. We can’t blame all of that movie’s failings on its lead actor but his overachieving energy is without a doubt its central problem.

Gordon-Levitt’s ego is also arguably part of the reason we still don’t have a movie adaptation of the Sandman comics. After directing one low-budget movie about a guy who’s dating Scarlett Johansson and is addicted to masturbating, JGL thought he could pull off directing one of the most difficult to adapt comics out there. Reader, he was not capable.

What’s more, Gordon-Levitt’s perfectly suited for the role because he’s a startup founder himself. Remember HitRecord? It was a website where JGL posted videos of himself kind of vlogging or something and he encouraged other people to post videos of themselves vlogging or something. Like Uber, it still exists whether anyone wants it or not.

All that’s to say, I’m super pumped for this show. The Billions folks know how to write a corporate sleazeball as well as anyone and Gordon-Levitt will get under our skin in all the right ways.