For anyone even half paying attention to film over the past few years, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is no doubt a name you’ve heard a lot. From (500) Days of Summer and 50/50 to The Dark Knight Rises and Inception, Gordon-Levitt has established himself among the brightest rising stars in Hollywood. His latest appearance in the wonderful, sci-fi time travel film Looper is another step in the right direction. We sat down with Gordon-Levitt recently to discuss the film, working with Rian Johnson and Bruce Willis, and even his upcoming directorial debut.
If you’ve seen the trailers or poster art for Looper, the first thing you’ll notice is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt does not look like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The makeup job on Gordon-Levitt’s face is jarring, as the filmmakers attempt to create a younger vision of Bruce Willis, and yet there’s something very impressive about what this change adds to the film.
We asked Gordon-Levitt about the process of at once portraying a younger version of Bruce Willis, while at the same time being a wildly different character.
“The whole character was based on [Willis] for sure. I studied him, I watched his movies. I ripped the audio off his movies so I could listen on repeat. He even recorded some of my voiceover monologues and sent me that recording so I could hear what they sounded like in his voice. And just getting to know him, spending time with him, letting it seep in. It’s a really fascinating way to create a character. That’s always my favorite thing, to transform, to become someone else.”
He later added, “If I watch a movie [I was in] and see a moment that reminds me of myself, I always feel like I messed that up. I want to see someone different. The premise of Looper presents a unique challenge in that way.”
This film marks a reunion for Gordon-Levitt and director Rian Johnson, who previously brought us Brick in 2005. Gordon-Levitt discussed the pleasures of reuniting with this long-time collaborator and friend.
“We’ve been really close friends since [Brick]. He really is one of my dearest friends in the world. To work with someone like that is rare and a pleasure. It makes it fun. Obviously, there are differences between Brick and Looper. This is a much bigger scaled movie. He and I have both grown and done a lot of other things, but I think the similarities are more striking than the differences. Even though this is a big sci-fi/action movie, we’re still making something that we thought would be cool. There was never any desire to cater the movie to a commercial, market research nonsense and that’s a real testament to him. He just tells the story that he wants to tell. He never talks down to his audience. That’s something that Rian and Christopher [Nolan] have in common. They never talk down to their audience and they’re not afraid to challenge their audience. I think that’s a big part of why people love Chris’ movies and a big part why people will love Looper.”
Gordon-Levitt may be on a tremendous streak of roles in front of the camera, but he’s also moving behind it, as he briefly discussed his upcoming directorial debut, Don Jon’s Addiction.
“We just finished shooting it two months ago and we’re in the process of editing it. I wrote myself a fun part. I wrote Scarlett Johansson a really fun part. She liked the script so much that she did it (which is an honor). She’s fantastic in the movie. She’s really funny and really different than any character I’ve seen her play before. Julianne Moore is also in the movie. I think she’s one of the great actors alive. Tony Danza plays my dad. It’s turning out really well. It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The first person I showed a draft of my script? Rian [Johnson]. He’s been really, enormously supportive.”
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately if you’ve seen Looper (and if you haven’t, go remedy that right now!), the majority of the interview included what many will consider spoilers. So we’ve included several of those quotes in the following page, just jump on over there.
Looper is now playing in theaters!