Mod: Ralph Garman
Mod: LOOPER is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer and I can’t wait to see this film. So lets get right to it and let me introduce the director Mr. Rian Johnson, the lovely and talented Ms. Emily Blunt and the man himself Mr. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. There is another member of the cast that can’t be with us because he’s shooting. Bruce Willis is shooting DIE HARD in Eastern Europe. He can’t be with us but he sends his regards. Rian, the premise of this film is mind bending, can you tell us a little about how you came up with the idea?
Rian: Hi, first of all and this is totally incredible. I came up with the idea about 10 years ago and had this idea for the basic premise of the mob of the future who employs hit men from the past as a way to get rid of the bodies of the dead. They kidnap the person; go back in time and dispose of the person. That was a way to set up the situation and the premise where Joe and Bruce face off and it developed from there.
Joe: You are very kind thank you. I play a character named Joe because Rian wrote the part for me. It’s the first time in my life that its every happened to me where a writer wrote a part for me to play. He’s a Looper, a special kind of assassin who has the ability to time travel. He can’t commit murder in the future and because its so illegal and they want to settle all ties with me at one point that they want me to take out my future self which is Bruce Willis. That’s kind of the premise.
Mod: And Emily, he enters your life unexpected?
Emily: He does, I can’t say too much about my character though. She and her family get embroiled in this mess and Joe is the reason. So myself and my family get embroiled in this whole debacle. She is very tough. It was a very exciting role.
Rian: What you’re going to see is four or five minutes of the world and you’ll get more of a sense of what we’re doing in the film.
Mod: No way I’m waiting till September to see that movie. How the hell did you get Joe to look so much like Bruce?
Rain: After we cast Bruce we sort of realized they don’t look anything alike. The answer to that was that Bruce was in the makeup chair for three hours every morning getting prosthetics applied. We can’t make Joe look like a young Bruce, so we put things on the nose and the lips and give you enough so that you could go with it. Bruce was a good sport and did that every single morning. Joe is doing a young Bruce and is really giving a performance that makes him look like he’s doing a young Bruce Willis. It’s an incredible actors trick.
Mod: You captures Bruce completely Joe but you captured an original character also?
Joe: I’m not good at doing impressions.
Emily: Do your British accent.
Emily: He’s not a good mimic.
Joe: ‘Mary, step in time, step in time’ (in the voice of Dick van Dyke from Mary Poppins). I didn’t do an impersonation, I just tried to do something that made sense to me and felt real. I watched all his movies on repeat; I put his voice on my ipod so I could listen. Bruce recorded some of my lines so I could sound like him. The most I learned form him was just hanging out with him. He’s a sweetheart and he loved this job. I’m a fan of his and have been since I was a kid and think this is the coolest thing I’ve done.
Mod: What was it about Joe that made you chose him?
Rain: We’ve stayed good friends since we did BRICK together and we have just been dying to work together again. It’s always best to work with your friends. But I also knew he would give an extraordinary performance and that’s what Joe does and what he wants to do.
Mod: And you Emily, what made you sign on?
Emily: The script was the first thing I signed on with in my head. After reading a few pages and I was like ‘I’m going to do this’. I read it a few times because it is rich in complexity and the emotions are so complex. This is something that you’ll never see and I’m so excited to be doing it.
Mod: Was that a concern when you were writing the film to keep everything straight?
Rain: Yes, at the end of the day with a great movie like PRIMER a lot of the joy of it is the complexity. My model of the time travel is like the TERMINATOR but time travel sets up the situation and then steps out of the way.
Mod: Lets go to questions.
Q: What is the best part of working with Emily Blunt?
Joe: Probably just that she makes me laugh. Lets face it, most pretty girls aren’t funny, no offense. They aren’t because they don’t have to be.
Emily: Did everyone hear what he said?
Joe: She’s a brilliant actress and we just had the best time.
Q: Aside from your mutual fondness can you tell us an interesting story about something you learned or experienced from Bruce Willis?
Joe: First of all, thank you! You know what I think is striking about Bruce is his soft-spoken manner. This is how he has a conversation. Why? Because he doesn’t want other people listening to him and he doesn’t have to speak up. A lot of guys, big macho guys talk loud and like to have a big presence in the room. A guy like Bruce isn’t scared of anything I’d imagine. He doesn’t have to raise his voice. That struck me.
Emily: I sent my dad a picture from my phone. Bruce was covered in blood and I was sitting between takes in the sun with my pale British skin. He came over with a flowered parasol and he sat next to me and we talked about love and family and a photographer took a picture and its him covered in blood with a parasol. That’s him, he’s a doll!
Joe: Bruce is like that. He was really into the work. You could clearly tell that he put thought into what he wanted to do. He’s done a lot of movies, a lot of great movies. To see him get excited and inspired and passionate about working obviously drew me right in. Once we were in the work, all the icon went away.
Q: I was wondering about your independent creative work? Is it like a circular inspiration for you or do you separate your movie characters from your shorts and things like that?
Joe: I don’t separate them at all; it’s all one creative process. LOOPER is a big action sci-fi movie but Rian and I did a smaller budgeted movie and I think the same sensibility remains from BRICK to LOOPER. It isn’t the size of the budget or how many people see it but the intention of the filmmaker. Rian loves movies, that’s why he does this. Some movies get made and the goal is to make money but that’s not just interesting. That’s what’s important, making films from the heart. Whether your doing a little video on your laptop or doing a collaboration or making THE DARK KNIGHT RISES…by the way, Chris Nolan has similar sensibilities even though he’s making a big budget movie. He started small movies and he maintains that and that’s what’s important is your intention.
Q: Joe, in regards to the make up and following Bruce, was it extra challenging to work on it mentally and physically?
Joe: Mentally and physically? I didn’t work out for this movie for shit.
Mod: Was it for you Emily?
Emily: I think it’s always a challenge when you portray someone else like Joe is. You have to keep Bruce Willis’ essence in mind. I think that is really tough enough to make it an impersonation, which he did not. I mean that in the best way that it wasn’t a cheesie impersonation but an embodiment of what he is all about. For me with this role it was a challenge and departure playing someone who isn’t from where I’m from.
Joe: Talk about me transforming she is so different in this movie too unlike anything I’ve ever seen her do. It’s really cool.
Emily: That’s cool. The hardest thing to do is to chop wood. I had logs transported to my house in LA to learn how to do it.
Mod: Rian, we talked about the smaller work. When you increase it in size and scope like this film does and you create your own world, is it intimidating as a director or more work?
Rian: Abstractly I suppose it is. The truth is and Joe says something like this but whether you’re making a video with your friends or making a movie like LOOPER your telling a story with a couple of actors. It’s fundamentally the same, once you get on set and figure out the scene and the scale, the language is the same. You’re doing the same, as you would be if you were goofing off with friends in high school making a film.
Q: Of all the projects you’ve done which was the most challenging and the most fun?
Emily: I feel that this is the best movie I’ve been a part of and yes, that’s true. I was very, very lucky to be in it and I know that. I think the most challenging one I did was THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU because I had to learn how to dance and that was a fresh new hell everyday. Training to be a contemporary dancing and it was so draining so I’d have to say it was the hardest.
Mod: I have a good friend who is a dancer and she said you were very convincing.
Emily: Good, thank god, it was worth it then.
Mod: How about you?
Joe: As far as my personal take on my own acting work are the actors that disappear into their own characters like Daniel Day Lewis or Meryl Streep or people you watch in the movie where you don’t see the actor you see the character. That’s what I aspire to be so I think this movie LOOPER is the best and I’m so proud of it. As far as challenging yes, this was pretty hard. Physically to have all that make-up on you is hard. Then trying to embody Bruce fucking Willis. It didn’t feel hard and it was a challenge but it was so much fun everyday to work with people that I love and doing something I’m very lucky to get to do.
Mod: Jeff Daniels was also another in the film?
Q: When you’re preparing for a role as physical as this one was, does it affect you mentally?
Joe: Sure. I personally think that the whole distinction between mind and body is a little waffled. You think and you feel with more than just your brain. Your body is part of that experience and acting helped me understand that. They are inseparable.
Q: The story of BRICK is so powerful and to watch it seems like a screenplay different from the others. How much is synergy between performance and what you see on paper. Joe seems a very powerful actor and I’m wondering how much you bring to that and is that why you wanted to work with Joe.
Rian: I am the luckiest son of a bitch in the world to have these guys. The truth is specifically you start with the writing, not that we changed the script but there was almost a second writing process figuring how these actors were going to handle the words, attack them and make them feel real. When you write you spend time alone by yourself hashing this out and your dying for collaboration. So when you have great actors like these guys to balance out and see where they take it and have them surprise you is one of the reasons why Emily didn’t have to twist my arm at all for the part.
Mod: Thank you so much for coming to spend time with us.