Exclusive: ‘Looper’ trailer reveals Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s transformation into young Bruce Willis
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a "looper," a hit man who eliminates targets sent back in time by organized criminals in the future. He makes sure that whoever appears in front of him ends up dead, even when that person is himself from 30 years in the future (Bruce Willis).
That's the set-up for "Looper," a mind-bending action thriller from writer/director Rian Johnson ("Brick," "The Brothers Bloom"). It's a risky premise, mostly because the audience has to believe that Gordon-Levitt and Willis are actually the same person. And as Johnson admitted to me in a phone interview, "that was tricky because they look nothing alike."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis in 'Looper' (Photo: TriStar Pictures)
So how did this odd pairing come about? According to Johnson, he's been developing the idea for nearly a decade, and he brought it up to Gordon-Levitt when they were promoting his debut film "Brick" at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. So the intention was always for Gordon-Levitt to play the young version, but he said, "I had no idea who is going to play the older guy until we really got into the casting process."
Director Rian Johnson (Photo: Mark Davis/WireImage)
The task of changing Gordon-Levitt's look went to makeup designer Kazuhiro Tsuji, who had previously worked with the actor on "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." Johnson said that Tsuji started by taking casts of both Gordon-Levitt's and Willis' faces, and then "he started sculpting clay onto this perfect model of Joe's face." The process of finding the correct balance of facial features took several months, and Gordon-Levitt ended up spending three hours a day in the makeup chair getting the prosthetics applied.