Writer-Director Rian Johnson Talks LOOPER, the Rules of Time Travel in Movies, the Film’s Unique Score and More at WonderCon 2012

     March 21, 2012


One of my most anticipated movies of 2012 is writer-director Rian Johnson‘s Looper.   If the name Rian Johnson doesn’t mean anything to you, I strongly suggest renting Brick and The Brothers Bloom.  After you see them, you’ll understand why films nerds can’t wait to see what’s next from the director.  If you haven’t heard of Looper, the futuristic thriller takes place in a world where time travel exists, but is only used on the Black Market. When the mob wants to kill someone, they send the target 30 years into the past where a contract killer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) does the dirty work. Things are going smoothly until Gordon-Levitt’s future self (Bruce Willis) is sent into the past to be killed.  For more on the film, here’s the first images, and Dave’s recap of the WonderCon panel.

After the panel, I got to sit down with Johnson for an extended interview.  We talked about being at WonderCon, the plot of the film, the rules of time travel in movies and what films he looked to for inspiration, the music (which will be done by his cousin, Nathan Johnson), what he learned from a friends and family screening, the running time and deleted scenes, whether or not they’ll do a viral campaign, and more.  Hit the jump to watch.  Looper hits theaters September 28.

looper-rian-johnson-movie-image-time-machineRian Johnson Time Index:

  • :19 What it means to be at WonderCon. Says he’s never been to WonderCon or ComicCon before, so he’s excited to actually have a movie that fits into the convention.
  • 1:17 He thinks they’re definitely gonna do something for Comic-Con
  • 1:43 Briefly describes the plot. Says it’s a time-travel action movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis playing the same person. Calls it a cat and mouse game between Gordon-Levitt and Wilis that asks the audience, “Could you kill your future self in order to stay alive?”
  • 3:04 Figuring out the time travel aspect of the film. After trying to figure out a bunch of rules for his time travel, he realized that time travel never makes sense. He said the best time travel movies deftly hide the fact that it doesn’t make sense from the audience. He wanted the story to take over once the time travel aspect was introduced, and his template as The Terminator.
  • 5:05 Talks about the involvement of Sony/Columbia TriStar. It’s the same company that handled District 9, so he was very excited to work with them. He let them put the trailer together but he put his two cents in and worked closely with the team.
  • 6:15 Says they’ve already been talking about a viral campaign.
  • 6:44 The music of the movie. His cousin, Nathan Johnson, did the score. He recorded a bunch of real world sounds and put them through a crazy program in order to distort them. Layered together, all the sounds form an orchestra feel, but the sound still seems foreign and off.
  • 8:28 What he learned from the friends and family screenings. Says they were used to determine what was confusing to people about the time travel aspect. He was also looking for notes on pacing.
  • 9:13 Says he ended up cutting another five minutes out of the movie since the previous test screening.
  • 9:48 The first cut was two hours and 45 minutes and the final cut was an hour and 52 minutes. Says he cut a lot of stuff he really loved, but he hopes it’ll be on the DVD.
  • 11:17 Says he much prefers putting cut scenes in a deleted scenes section rather than making a “director’s cut.”
  • 12:01 The prospect of a triple feature of Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper.


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