The time-travel action flick Looper went over like gangbusters at Comic-Con last week and is one of the most promising movies we have to look forward to in the second half of 2012. Directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), the movie stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hit man from the future who regularly travels back in time to dispose of troublesome people the mob sends back for him to exterminate. Things hit the fan when his next hit turns out to be his own future self (Bruce Willis). In a new interview, Johnson talks about the perils of making a time-travel movie, how they transformed Gordon-Levitt into a young Willis, and what we’ll see on the DVD release.
Speaking to The Playlist, Johnson says that a lot of time and effort went into making sure the time-travel elements of the script both made sense and were as streamlined and simple as possible.
I put a lot of shoe leather into going over the script, and making sure the story worked, and ticked, without the sci-fi elements complicating it too much. Making sure the time travel did its job and got out of the way. So hopefully at the end of it, it makes sense, you don’t have to think about it too deeply.
Interestingly enough, during the early stages of this process Johnson consulted his friend, Shane Carruth, whose name you might recognize as the writer/director behind the brilliant, complex 2004 time-travel movie Primer. While Carruth was never officially involved with Looper, he read and offered feedback about the script, and he supposedly receives a “Special Thanks” in the closing credits of Johnson’s new film.
Johnson also talks about the challenges of having one actor play a younger version of another. As the trailers for Looper reveal, Gordon-Levitt’s transformation into a young version of Bruce Willis is a subtle thing, a combination of some prosthetic makeup and JGL’s performance. As Johnson puts it, “He’s giving a real performance, and creating a real character, who isn’t young Bruce Willis, it’s a character believable as a young Bruce Willis.” In other words, don’t expect Gordon-Levitt to be channeling Moonlighting-era Willis. It’s more about verisimilitude than outright mimicry. Johnson also adds that the decision to make Gordon-Levitt resemble Willis, rather than the other way around, was made because Willis’ face, voice, and mannerisms are so iconic and well-known.
While the Looper DVD release is still a long way down the road, Johnson says that the disc will have nearly an hour’s worth of deleted scenes. Hopefully that will include some of the footage that was filmed in Shanghai and later edited out of the film (but which will still be included in the theatrical release in China).
Looper opens in theaters on September 28th, starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt.