COMIC-CON: JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT BECOMES BRUCE WILLIS IN “LOOPER”
There are some movies that are clearly meant to be previewed at Comic-Con. Looper, starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt, definitely ranks among them. The futuristic action thriller piqued fans’ interest and gave the little-known title, at least at this point, a good publicity boost for its September 28th release. The old adage ‘seeing is believing’ certainly comes into play here for Con attendees who may have heard of the film, but weren’t sure what to expect. What they got was Gordon-Levitt, Blunt, and director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) presenting almost five minutes of footage from the film, sending anticipation for the full-length feature to through the roof.
In Looper, time travel is possible, but illegal. Though if you want it, it’s not hard to acquire on the black market. And the mob takes full advantage of this fact. If they want to take someone out, they send that person 30 years into the past where a “looper” is there to take care of the job. But when Joe (Willis) is the target of the mob and sent back, it’s his younger self (Gordon-Levitt), a “looper,” who must make a difficult choice.
In order to portray a younger Bruce Willis, Gordon-Levitt had to go through a bit of a process, including modifying the sound of his voice to match Willis’.
“The thing I focused on most was his voice,” Gordon-Levitt told reporters at the movie’s Comic-Con press conference. “I find the voice is what I look for first and foremost with just about every character I play. I don’t have an answer why. And Bruce was really accommodating and open and collaborative in helping me do that. He recorded himself reading some of my voice-over lines so that I could hear how he would sound saying them, which I thought was really cool. But mostly it was just hanging out with him, getting to know him, having dinner, talking about music or anything else. It was probably what was the most useful in trying to get a sense of what I was then going to portray.”
The actor got the voice in place via his own doing, but it would take a special effects make-up team to help Gordon-Levitt resemble the Die Hard star, who couldn’t make it to the convention because he’s in Europe shooting the fifth movie in that franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard. Proof of their success came from Willis’ response.
“That was one of the highlights of the whole thing was Bruce seeing me for the first time and tripping out a little bit,” reveals Gordon-Levitt. “It’s hard to rattle him. He’s seen a lot and he’s an understated man. So, to get any reaction out of him is pretty exciting. And I remember him doing that (mimicking a double take). He was so thrilled about it. And there was also one point where we were shooting one of our scenes together, just in between takes, and just really quiet he was like, ‘you sound like me.’ And I was like, (clapping) ‘fucking right I do.’ Quietly. I didn’t let him see me to that.”
“When I first met Joe, I arrived on set and no one had told me he was wearing prosthetics,” adds co-star Emily Blunt. “Or maybe I’d been told and I hadn’t remembered. So, I go into his trailer and I’m staring at him probably oddly because I couldn’t figure out why he looked nothing like how I imagined. I know what Joe looks like and that is not it. And then I started to have kind of a brain melting experience of thinking, ‘Oh my God, I am not speaking to Joe, I’m speaking to his stunt man or someone.’ And I’m kind of telling this guy all about my character process. It was very strange and I came out and was like, ‘he looks really different.’ And they were like, ‘he’s wearing prosthetics.’ I think it’s a great credit to the prosthetic guys for coming up with something that looked so realistic. He looked disarmingly different and not fake. It was amazing.”
Looper also stars Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, Paul Dano and Garrett Dillahunt.