Image: Getty Images/Alice Webb-Liddall
Image: Getty Images/Alice Webb-Liddall

SocietyOctober 23, 2020

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in NZ and he needs to meet Joe Biden the Island Bay octopus

Image: Getty Images/Alice Webb-Liddall
Image: Getty Images/Alice Webb-Liddall

American actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has revealed he’s living and working in New Zealand. What brought him here, and what can he expect from his visit?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in Netflix’s new movie The Trial of the Chicago 7, but he could also be appearing in a suburb near you. Last week the Emmy Award-winning actor and producer appeared on American daytime chat show The Talk to promote Chicago 7, and began the interview by casually dropping the bombshell that he was speaking from New Zealand.


That’s right, our favourite Third Rock From The Sun alien has landed in Aotearoa, having recently moved an entire TV production from the United States to our well-sanitised shores. “I feel really lucky to be here with my family, because I was shooting this show that I hope will be out next year, and we were just starting to shoot when the pandemic hit,” Gordon-Levitt told The Talk.

“We had to stop, and we were trying to get it going again in LA, but couldn’t find a way that felt safe. So, we came here to New Zealand. This is one of the only countries in the world where they’ve handled the pandemic in an incredible way, and life is normal. It’s bizarre.”

“You know why, Joseph?” host Sharon Osbourne yelled across the Pacific. “It’s because the country’s run by a WOMAN!”

Don’t worry Sharon, Gordon-Levitt knows all about it. “Jacinda Ardern, I’m a huge fan,” he told America. “Jacinda Ardern is incredible.” Gordon-Levitt joins a growing number of overseas film and TV industry workers granted entry to New Zealand, despite Covid-19 border restrictions. The Ministry of Business, Immigration and Employment said it couldn’t discuss individual cases for privacy and legal reasons but did say that as of October 22, there have been 121 requests for border exceptions from employers in the film and television industries, and of these requests, 388 workers and 105 dependents have been approved under the “other critical worker” border exceptions.


The TV series Gordon-Levitt refers to is likely to be Mr Corman, an Apple TV+ dramedy that takes “a deep cut into the days and nights of a public school teacher in the San Fernando Valley”. Gordon-Levitt writes, executive produces and acts in the show, describing it on The Talk as “my dream project that I’ve been putting together for years”.  

Wellington is a long way from the San Fernando Valley, but word on the street is Gordon-Levitt was witnessed doing normal people things in the coastal oasis of Island Bay. Our intelligence may be wrong, it could have been just a man, but a local resident gave The Spinoff an exclusive deep cut of our own to explain why this charming Wellington suburb would appeal to big Hollywood stars. 

“There’s a really big slide at the playground,” the insider revealed. “He might have come here to go on the really big slide. It’s definitely possible. It’s super quick, and there’s an old pirate ship there, too.”   


As well as a nice slide, the area surrounding Island Bay is renowned for its natural beauty and rugged coastal features. “The dump drains to Owhiro Bay, so there’s poo in the water,” our source told us, instead recommending Island Bay’s excellent marine reserve, where visitors can swim and snorkel in turd-free waters. “There’s also Taputeranga, the island you can swim to. There’s nothing on the island, so I don’t know why you’d want to, but people do.”

It seems everyone wants to experience the joys of Island Bay. “I saw an octopus there once,” the insider said. In an eerie coincidence, Gordon-Levitt once made a short film called The Octopus Mom, about a brave octopus who swims to New Zealand to escape a pandemic. Wait, that’s incorrect. It’s actually a claymation film about an octopus mother who starves to death so her children survive, which is a fun story for all ages.

In a further twist of life echoing claymation, the Island Bay Marine Education Centre is home to two octopuses, one named after Joe Biden, another famous American who once appeared on The Talk. The aquarium’s Facebook page seems worryingly obsessed with fish penises, but then again, that’s nature for you. Always banging on about the sea peen, even in idyllic Island Bay.


With all this on offer, it’s a wonder the rest of Hollywood isn’t immediately packing up their tentacles to experience this suburban slice of paradise. “If anybody drives through Island Bay, they think it’s really beautiful, because it is,” said our insider. Simply beautiful, octopii penii and all.

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