Chinese actress Xu Qing has joined the cast of Rian Johnson's upcoming sci-fi actioner "Looper" with lensing set to begin next week in New Orleans and an exciting cast boasting Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Paul Dano and Emily Blunt.
As hinted at by Johnson's own blog, the project is now being co-backed by DMG, a Beijing advertising/film production and distribution firm with close ties with the NBA who are hoping the casting of Qing and partial shooting in China will help break the film into the restricted Chinese film market. In Beijing, an annual 20-film cap is in place for imported films to share in its box office grosses but the tight market is definitely one worth getting in with ticket sales "up 64 percent in 2010 to $1.47 billion" last year alone.
To cater for the co-production, Johnson has evidently rewritten the script substituting China for France with the film set in a world "sixty years from now [where] China is the leading superpower and time travel has been invented."
We presume little else has changed though, and the story still follows "a killer who works for the mob of the future. He, along with other so-called Loopers, dispose of people sent from the future. When he recognizes one victim as his future self, he hesitates, letting the man escape." Gordon-Levitt and Willis, of course, play the two versions of the protagonist with Dano as a fellow Looper, Blunt in an unnamed role while Qing is set to portray the wife of Willis' character.
Willis previously compared the film's script to Terry Gilliam's "12 Monkeys" and noted that it's "one in a handful of scripts that I read and said yes to right away. I was like 'this is unbelieveable,'... It's really dark." Having said that, the actor explained that the film is "not about time travel as much as it is about mistakes you have made and things you don't want to do and your little childhood self coming near your adult life."
The recent addition of "Primer" helmer Shane Carruth to the behind the camera talent increases the project's prestige and with Johnson at the helm and this cast, we're fairly excited by it all. Could a late 2011 festival appearance be on the cards? His last two films, the excellent neo-noir "Brick" and hearty crime-caper "The Brothers Bloom," have premiered at Sundance and Toronto respectively so a return to one or the other seems likely.