Rian Johnson Talks LOOPER, Deleted Scenes, His Writing Process, TIFF 2012, BREAKING BAD, THE TERMINATOR, Future Projects and More

     September 28, 2012

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With writer-director Rian Johnson‘s Looper opening today, I’ve spent all week posting exclusive video interviews with the cast (here’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt).  The film takes place in a future where time travel exists, but it’s only used on the black market.  Gordon-Levitt plays a “Looper”, a hitman who is contracted to kill people that are sent back in time, and then disposes of the bodies so the victim technically no longer exists.  Things go awry when his future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time as a target and then escapes.  The film also stars Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano.  For more on the film, here are 4 clips and Matt’s review.

At this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, I got to speak with Johnson.  We talked about the positive buzz for the film, what it meant to be the opening film of TIFF, Breaking Bad, his writing process on Looper and how it was different than his previous work (Brick and The Brothers Bloom), deleted scenes and what will be on the Blu-ray (up to 45 minutes!), how The Terminator was an influence, future projects (says he’s got “five or six germs of ideas”), and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Rian Johnson Time Index:

  • How James Rocchi should have told him to fix his shirt.
  • Talks about the transition from promoting Looper for an extended period of time to actually having people see it and respond with positive buzz.
  • 1:55 – What it meant to him for Looper to be TIFF’s opening night film.
  • 3:15 – Asked to compare Looper being TIFF’s opening night film with directing episodes of Breaking Bad. Says when directing Breaking Bad that he would show up for work early and do his morning crossword at Walter White’s kitchen table.
  • 4:25 – Jumps into Looper’s writing process and discusses how it differs from his previous work. Johnson says he did more rewrites for this script than he had ever done before in an effort to really lock-in the film’s narrative. Expect the DVD to have tons of extras as some of his favorite individual scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
  • 6:20 – He elaborates on the content of the deleted scenes and says that they don’t change the plot but rather serve as the point “B” between points “A” and “C”. For example, one deals with Kid Blue as he tracks Old Joe and explains how he comes to find him at the diner.
  • 9:45 – Says he truly believes as many as 45 minutes of deleted scenes will be included on the eventual DVD/Blu-ray release.
  • 10:00 – He explains that the “China sequence” was the most challenging to pull together so that the audience could make sense of it. The “diner sequence” also required lots of tweaking due to the amount of footage they shot, but the “China sequence” was in real danger of being cut until they found a way to make it work.
  • 11:50 – Talks about using The Terminator as a template for how to use time travel to set up a particular situation and then get out of the way. Calls The Terminator a brilliant film.
  • 12:25 – In the future, would he consider directing a film that he didn’t write? Says he would love to because writing is “such a pain in the ass”. At the same time, though, one of his favorite things about filmmaking is taking something from just a seed of an idea and seeing it through to a finished film.
  • 13:35 – Johnson claims to have been pretty low on story ideas coming out of Looper but has since developed “five or six germs of ideas” and refined that to a couple ideas that he hopes will become his next movies.

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