Writer/director Rian Johnson is a talent like no other, as evidenced by his two previous features Brick and The Brothers Bloom. He’s next set to tackle the sci-fi genre with the time travel story Looper. The film takes place in a future where time travel exists, but it’s only used on the black market. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a man who is contracted to kill people that are sent back in time, and then he disposes of the bodies in a time period in which they don’t exist. Things go awry when his future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time as an assignment and Gordon-Levitt lets him go.
Johnson took the stage in Hall H at Comic-Con on Friday with stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt, where they screened footage and talked extensively about the film. Hit the jump for my full recap.
Johnson came out on the stage first, followed by Blunt and Gordon-Levitt (who took the stage to rapturous applause). Moderator Ralph Garman began by asking Johnson how he came up with the idea for the film.
- Johnson said he was reading a lot of Philip K. Dick and came up with the idea about 10 years ago, which was a system in which people use time travel to kill people. In the future, the criminal organization sends people back in time to be murdered.
- Gordon-Levitt’s character was written specifically for him by Johnson.
- Blunt said she wasn’t able to say too much about her character but said that she and her family get embroiled in Gordon-Levitt’s debacle when he’s “a pussy” and doesn’t kill his future self (played by Bruce Willis).
They then showed a 4-5 minute reel that looked pretty damn incredible. I’ve only seen one of the trailers, so I can’t say whether this was entirely new or not, but we got some great looks at Jeff Daniels as Gordon-Levitt’s boss (who’s superb) and truly original, visually stunning action. One of the highlights was actually seeing the scenes between Willis and Gordon-Levitt. The two have fantastic chemistry and are actually pretty funny.
In addition to the makeup, Gordon-Levitt wholly takes on a Bruce Willis impression from his mannerisms to his voice. Seriously, this footage looked great and I absolutely can’t wait to see Gordon-Levitt, Willis, Blunt, and especially Daniels play in Johnson’s sandbox.
- Gordon-Levitt was asked how he went about embodying Bruce Willis, but he admitted that he’s not a good mimic. He didn’t feel like an impersonation would be proper, so he internalized it. He watched all of his movies on repeat and even put the audio of his movies on his iPod so he could listen to his voice a lot.
- Johnson said he cast Gordon-Levitt not only because he wanted to work with his friend, but also because he felt Gordon-Levitt could tackle the tough task of playing a younger version of another actor.
- Blunt said she knew she wanted to do the project after reading 30 pages of the screenplay. She said he writes “in such a singular way that’s not derived from anything you’ve seen.”
- Though the film deals with time travel, Johnson used The Terminator as his template in that he wanted to set it up as a device but didn’t want the entire plot to hinge on the specifics of time travel.
- Gordon-Levitt was asked what it was like to work with Emily Blunt, and he cited her ability to make him laugh as a big plus. He added, “most pretty girls aren’t funny.”
- A guy came up and asked what it was like to work with Bruce Willis, and Gordon-Levitt said that he’s really sweet and actually soft-spoken. He said some big guys come into a room with a booming voice, but Willis doesn’t have to make himself heard and he doesn’t have to raise his voice.
- Blunt added that she sent a picture of Willis covered in blood and holding a parasol to her dad.
- Gordon-Levitt was excited to see Willis get really excited and inspired and passionate about making the film.
- When asked if it was a challenge to prepare both mentally and physically, Gordon-Levitt said “I didn’t work out for shit on this movie.” He said that Blunt is really different in this movie compared to her other characters.
- Garman asked Johnson if it was intimidating to make a movie on a larger scope than his previous work, he said that the language is the same and the process is fundamentally the same no matter how many people are on the set.
- Blunt said she feels that this is the best movie she’s been able to be a part of thus far, but The Adjustment Bureau was the most challenging because she had to train to be a dancer.
- Gordon-Levitt said his favorite actors are those that disappear in their work like Daniel Day-Lewis and Meryl Streep, so that you see the character when you see their films and not the actor. His aspiration is to disappear into his roles, though he said trying to embody “Bruce Fucking Willis” was really hard.
- When asked if physically preparing helps him mentally, Gordon-Levitt said he personally thinks the distinction between mind and body is faulty. He said he thinks the two are sort of inseparable, to which Blunt agreed.
- Johnson said on Brick one of the first things they talked about was nailing down the voice and the mannerisms.
- Johnson said that he’s “the luckiest son of a bitch in the world” to be able to work with people like Blunt and Gordon-Levitt. He said that writing drafts of the script after he had his cast was just as difficult as writing the script for the first time.
Johnson’s an undeniably terrific writer/director and Looper looks to be a refreshingly original breath of fresh air in a box office climate flooded with reboots, sequels, and remakes. You absolutely do not want to miss this movie. Be sure to keep up with all of our continuing Comic-Con coverage here.