Interview Joseph Gordon-Levitt says playing a younger Bruce Willis in Looper was overwhelming
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was last seen in as the idealistic police officer John Blake in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rising , will be seen in the futuristic time travel film Looper opening on October 12. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, the film is set in the future where time travel is used by criminal organisation to get rid of people by killing them in the past. The assassins are called Loopers. Gordon-Levitt plays a Looper who is sent to kill his older self played by Bruce Willis. In an email interview the young actor talks about the pleasure of working with Willis as well as auteurs such as Nolan and Steven Spielberg — he is working with the director on the biopic Lincoln .
What drew you to the role?
Looper is kind of a redemption story in a way. But I like that about it. The mechanics of the time-travel in Looper is really simple. It’s not one of those time travel movies that’s really about the time travel. It uses time travel as a springboard to ask a much more basic human question, which is what would you say to your future self if you could meet them. It’s fun to root for good guys and bad guys but Looper is more of a drama than a genre film.
In real life those roles kind of blur in everybody and I think our characters are really complex. Who should I root for? That’s a big question in Looper . And it was also the first time anyone did write me a part, and it was a real honour. Normally, as an actor, I get a script a few months before it starts shooting. I really liked being involved from the very beginning, middle, and end.
What were the challenges you faced?
Initially I was a little worried about playing younger Joe because the 30 years later Joe was played by Bruce Willis. I studied Bruce’s movies and I would take the audio from some of his movies and put them on my iPod so that I could listen to him. Bruce actually recorded himself doing some of my monologues and sent me the tapes so that I could listen to that, and that was all really useful. But I think the most important thing for me was just getting to know him, hanging out having dinner, talking about whatever, that was where I think I really learned what I wanted to do with the character.
How did it feel to play a younger version of Bruce Willis?
It was overwhelming. Bruce is actually a very understated guy. It’s interesting because he’s such a large personality; your first instinct is to try to be large. But in fact, he draws a lot of his power from stillness and he actually speaks quietly. Again, it sort of tricks you at first because you wouldn’t think he speaks quietly because his voice makes such a powerful impression. It took me a second to figure that out. I do think that actually a lot of the closest moments that I got to him are the quieter, stiller moments.
What attracts you about science fiction films?
I like to take things as they come. The script of the film is very important to me.
What was it like working with renowned directors such as Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg?
It was monumental. It was an interesting phase between doing The Dark Knight Rises and Lincoln . Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest men of all times and I was deeply honoured to work with him. I would do anything he asked me to do. He is just so perfect. Working with Steven really did play a big part in encouraging and emboldening me to try the role. Christopher Nolan leaves room for spontaneity on the day, both from the side of the camera and as well as from the actors.