- The Washington Times - Friday, February 5, 2016

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the Hollywood star cast to play Edward Snowden in an forthcoming film about the NSA leaker, said on Thursday that he’s using his acting fee from the Oliver Stone-directed flick to fund a project involving the American Civil Liberties Union and his own production company, hitRECord.

In a statement, the ACLU said that Mr. Gordon-Levitt, 34, is donating his entire acting fee “to help facilitate the conversation about technology and democracy.”

Specifically, the actor’s production company, hitRECord, is partnering with the ACLU on a community-sourced video project that will examine the ways in which modern technology has influenced democracy and the role it will play on future decision-making processes. Individuals are being urged to upload videos to YouTube in which they discuss the topic, and certain clips will be selected for use in an computing documentary-style film to be finished before “Snowden” arrives in cinemas in May.

“The answers I’m most interested in are not the expert, political-pundit, left-wing, right-wing talking points kind of thing. I’d much rather hear a personal story or something that’s unique to you,” the actor said.

“I’ve grown to care a lot about these questions since playing Edward Snowden,” Mr. Gordon-Levitt said in the statement. “I think it’s a really worthwhile conversation for us all to be having, so I’m going to be donating my acting fee from the Snowden movie to help facilitate that conversation. Some of that money will go towards this project, to pay the contributors, and the rest will be going to the ACLU to support the work they do in the areas of technology and democracy.”

As of Friday afternoon, nearly 100 videos have been contributed to the crowd-sourced project, “Are you there, Democracy? It’s me, the Internet.”

Snowden,” the movie, is based off of a book written by Luke Harding, a reporter for The Guardian newspaper, concerning the former NSA contractor’s leaking of government documents to the media in 2013. Mr. Snowden, 32, has been charged in the U.S. with theft of government property and two counts of violating the Espionage Act as a result of his disclosures. He currently resides in Russia after being granted asylum.

It was not immediately clear how much the actor was being paid to portray Mr. Snowden, but WikiLeaks, the secret-spilling group, said previously that documents taken during the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment suggest Mr. Harding was allocated $700,000 for the rights to his book, with an additional $600,000 going to Mr. Stone for his work on the script.

Mr. Gordon-Levitt revealed previously that he flew to Russia for a secret meeting with Mr. Snowden, and has since said that he agrees with his decision to leak classified documents.

“I don’t want to be the actor guy who’s like, ‘You should listen to me! What he did was right!’ I don’t think that’s my place. Even though that is what I believe — that what he did was right,” the actor told The Guardian last year.

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