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Man Confronts Himself During Time Travel in 'Looper'

  • Alan Silverman

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce WIllis as "Joe" in TriStar Pictures, Film District, and End Game Entertainment's action thriller LOOPER.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce WIllis as "Joe" in TriStar Pictures, Film District, and End Game Entertainment's action thriller LOOPER.

In the new action-drama Looper, writer-director Rian Johnson blends science fiction with film noir. The movie tells the story of a man confronting his own future. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as the main character.


"Time travel has not yet been invented. But 30 years from now it will have been."

In the movie, Joe, the narrator, is a killer for hire in a not too distant, dystopian future.



"I am one of many specialized assassins called 'loopers.' So when criminal organizations in the future need someone gone, they zap him back to me and I eliminate the target from the future. The only rule is: never let your target escape …even if your target is you."

In fact, that's the dilemma that Joe confronts when he looks at his last intended victim.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the younger version of Joe. He resists calling Looper a science fiction film.

"The time travel is kept very simple in Looper because it is not really a movie about time travel," he says. "It's a movie that uses time travel as a sort of springboard to get at what is ultimately a very basic, human story and a drama."

Bruce Willis co-stars as the older version of Joe.

"It was a very emotional process," admits Willis, "and a very emotional day-to-day activity of just trying to make it look real and trying to deal with the idea that when I look at Joe [Gordon-Levitt] it's really me and trying to make that be honest and believable."

Gordon-Levitt says his performance was helped by makeup that made him look more like Willis.

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as "Joe" in TriStar Pictures, Film District, and End Game Entertainment's action thriller LOOPER.

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as "Joe" in TriStar Pictures, Film District, and End Game Entertainment's action thriller LOOPER.

"I think as much preparation as I had done on the character before the makeup was all finished, I remember when we did the final test and I really saw him for the first time, there was something that clicked over [to say] that's the guy," he says.

Writer-director Rian Johnson says the challenge was to come up with both a character and a situation with which audiences could connect.

Writer/ Director Rian Murphy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as "Joe" in TriStar Pictures, Film District, and End Game Entertainment's action thriller LOOPER.

Writer/ Director Rian Murphy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as "Joe" in TriStar Pictures, Film District, and End Game Entertainment's action thriller LOOPER.

"Obviously it is an outlandish thing using time travel to put a man in front of the older version of himself," admits Johnson, "but what that boils down to is just an amplified version of an older man and a younger man [saying to each other] 'I'm not going to turn into you' and 'what are you doing with your life? You're doing it all wrong. Trust me, I know this.' It is a conversation we've all been on one side or the other …or maybe both sides of at various points in our lives."

Looper also features Jeff Daniels as the manipulative crime boss. English actress Emily Blunt and Chinese screen star Summer Qing play important women in Joe's life.
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