Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season 10 Movies Booed At Cannes 10 Movies Booed At Cannes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Exclusive: 'Looper' Director Rian Johnson On Transforming Joseph Gordon-Levitt & The Hour Of Deleted Scenes On The DVD

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 16, 2012 at 11:00AM

It's an interesting time for fans of science-fiction out there. While many of the biggest movies in the genre have tinges of sci-fi, they're mostly action-adventures in disguise, with fantastic CGI embellishments. But we've also had a string of lower-budget fare in the last few years that have embraced the more idea-led aspects of the genre -- think Duncan Jones' "Moon," Gareth Edwards' "Monsters," or Neill Blomkamp's "District 9." And the latest to join them is a man who's already made something of a specialty out of deconstructing genre tropes with his teen-noir "Brick" and meta-caper "The Brothers Bloom" -- director Rian Johnson.
0


Rian Johnson Joseph Gordon-Levitt Looper

It's an interesting time for fans of science-fiction out there. While many of the biggest movies purportedly in the genre have tinges of sci-fi, they're mostly action-adventures in disguise, with fantastic CGI embellishments. But we've also had a string of lower-budget films in the last few years that have embraced the more idea-led aspects of the genre -- think Duncan Jones' "Moon," Gareth Edwards' "Monsters,"  or Neill Blomkamp's "District 9." And the latest director to join them is a man who's already made something of a specialty out of deconstructing genre tropes with his teen-noir "Brick" and meta-caper "The Brothers Bloom" -- director Rian Johnson.  

Although to hear him tell it, reinventing sci-fi wasn't his primary intention with "Looper," his imminent new film which impressed at Comic-Con over the weekend, and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. We spoke to Johnson on Friday, and he told us that the film "wasn't so much about coming at it wanting to tweak the genre, it was just this basic idea I'd had, of the old man and a young man; Joe working for the mob in the future, and them sending them back his older self to be killed. I'd had that very basic plot idea like ten years ago, and wrote it down as a short film that I never ended up shooting, it just sat in a drawer for ten years. And over the past couple of years, some bigger ideas attached themselves to that, and I realized 'oh this little cool plot device can make a movie that's about this.' It was nothing as conceptual as trying to do something with the genre. But having said that, I love sci-fi . When i wrote the short, I was in the middle of reading Philip K Dick's books, and I'd wanted to do something in that world for a while."

JGL Johnson Looper

Of course, time-travel films are notoriously tricky to plot, and Johnson made a particular effort to keep things as simple as possible. "One of my big priorities in writing the script," the director said, "was to make sure that it didn't feel dense, it didn't feel like homework. I put a lot of shoe leather into going over the script, and making sure the story worked, and ticked, without the sci-fi elements complicating it too much. Making sure the time travel did its job and got out of the way. So hopefully at the end of it, it makes sense, you don't have to think about it too deeply."

Helping with advice and notes in the early stages was Shane Carruth, the man behind indie time-travel gem "Primer," a friend of Johnson. Despite some reports, however, Carruth didn't actively work on the film, although it was mooted at one point: "I was a huge fan of 'Primer,' and I met Shane just randomly through another friend, and we'd been friends for a few years. But really, Shane's only involvement was showing him the script, and getting some really good feedback from him. We talked about him doing the effects for a specific sequence in the film, and it never ended up happening, for a number of reasons. None of them bad, which is for the best, because the sequence got cut from the film anyway. So he ended up not having any direct involvement in the film."
 
One of the film's biggest challenges was finding a pair of actors who could plausibly play the younger and older versions of the same character, and Johnson says that, due to the older star's iconic nature, he felt that it was up to Joseph Gordon-Levitt to match his older counterpart, rather than the other way around. "If I'd put it to Bruce that we wanted to transform him," Johnson said, "I know he would have been into it, he was really gung-ho about the part, no ego at all, he was ready and up for anything. But I felt people know Bruce Willis really well, so if you try and transform him, they're gonna see right through it."

This article is related to: Looper, Comic-Con, Interviews, Rian Johnson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Breaking Bad


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates