Since its inception in 1976, the Toronto International Film Festival has become one of the largest, most important, and highly influential events of its kind in the world. Every September, more than 300 films from over 60 countries are screened at the fest – most making their worldwide debut and, for many, officially launching their awards campaigns. Oscar® winning movies like Juno, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country For Old Men, and the reigning Best Picture, The Artist, all made appearances at TIFF before rolling into theaters around the world and collecting accolades along the way.
Not every film comes to Toronto looking for an awards boost as much as the word-of-mouth that can begin to spread after screening to large crowds. The Gala presentations deliver a high profile setting for any movie, and this year’s prime Gala spot on opening night belongs to the Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt sci-fi action pic, Looper.
The time travel-based movie puts Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a tough situation when, as a looper, he’s assigned to kill the future him, played by Willis. The film is directed by Rian Johnson, who Gordon-Levitt previously worked with on Brick (2005), and in his brief appearance in The Brothers Bloom (2008), which also screened at Toronto that year.
“Rian and I first met nearly ten years ago,” says Gordon-Levitt. “It wasn’t too long after we shot Brick that he started telling me about his idea for Looper. He ended up writing the lead character for me, which is the first time that’s ever happened to me as an actor, so to play that was a great honor.”
“When Joe and I first spoke about Looper, just after we made Brick, it was just the premise of the movie,” says the writer-director. “What I liked about the idea was the predicament that Joe finds himself in – he knows what the future holds, and he has to make a moral choice about which way it’s going to go.”
“The first thing was makeup,” Johnson continues. “Joseph Gordon-Levitt went through nearly three hours of makeup and prosthetics every single morning to adjust his nose, his upper lip and his lower lip. There was no way we were going to make him look like a young Bruce Willis, but we decided we’d pick a couple of key features and alter them just enough to give the audience something to grab onto so they could decide to go with it.”
Along with the film’s premiere and subsequent screenings at TIFF, the expected word-of-mouth will soon begin to trickle out of the North with critics’ reviews and general audience reactions. Looper has a big September ahead of itself, beginning with the Toronto International Film Festival, and wrapping the month up with its theatrical release on the 28th.