In the cerebral sci-fi thriller "Looper," opening wide this weekend, Jospeph Gordon-Levitt stars as a time-travelling hit-man confronted with the unenviable task of whacking his future self (played by Bruce Willis). Since launching the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, Rian Johnson's film has generated plenty of critical praise and lots of early buzz. We all know JGL and Willis won't disappoint, but here are five facts about "Looper" you might not know.
1. In order to look like a young Bruce Willis, Gordon-Levitt had to sit in the makeup chair for nearly three hours every morning. Makeup artists knew they'd never be able to recreate Willis's face on top of Gordon-Levitt's, so they concentrated on a few key features -- nose, lips, eyebrows, ears, and contact lenses -- where audiences could hopefully see similarities. All that time in the chair apparently paid off though, as JGL's mom didn't even recognize him. "My mom said, 'When you stand next to me and I don't look at you, you're like yourself, you're like who I know. But as soon as I look at you, you're not my son anymore!' She was a little disconcerted," Gordon-Levitt explained at the film's 2012 Comic Con press conference.
2. Speaking of disconcerting, it's one thing to embody another actor; it's another thing entirely to sit across from an actor embodying you. Willis explains: "I was sitting across from Joe across a table. I was supposed to act and get all my lines right, but I just found myself looking at him and thinking how weird it was. It's really a strange thing to see someone that looks like a young version of yourself. He's a great actor -- I love his work and I just love what he did in this film. He picked up some of my cadence of speaking, which was odd, and yet, really cool at the same time." Part of the scene Willis is referencing can be seen in the clip above.
3. Sure, we know him as John McClane, the world's toughest cop, but apparently Bruce Willis is actually quite the sensitive type. Or at least that's what Emily Blunt believes. Blunt plays a struggling mother caught up in the young Joe versus old Joe shenanigans. During the only day of shooting with both Blunt and Willis, the English actress found herself sitting alone in the hot sun. "Bruce got concerned for my pale British skin. In his blood-smeared costume, he came over with the girliest umbrella you can imagine. I don't know where he found it; it looked like a parasol. That's Bruce — that juxtaposition of the tough guy covered in blood who walks around shamelessly holding a parasol," Blunt recently told The Globe and Mail.
[Related: Looper at Comic-Con 2012]
4. Rian Johnson wrote Gordon-Levitt's part specifically with JGL in mind, right down to naming the character Joe. The two first worked together ten years ago on another film written and directed by Johnson, the noir-styled high school thriller "Brick" (2005). At the time, Gordon-Levitt was still best known for playing Tommy Solomon, an alien trapped in a boy's body on the Emmy-winning TV series "3rd Rock from the Sun." But JGL's darkly mature performance in "Brick" helped to move him from child TV actor to bona fide movie star. The two remain close friends, a chemistry you can easily see in the clip above.
5. No artist creates in a vacuum, and writer/director Johnson readily admits he was influenced by other films, including "Twelve Monkeys" (1995), "Blade Runner" (1982), and "Akira" (1988). However, in an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Movies (which we're posting next week due to multiple spoilers), Johnson notes that "Looper" was most influenced by a seemingly unlikely film: "Witness" (1985), which tensely depicts Harrison Ford going undercover in Amish country to protect a young boy. "I'm a huge fan of the movie 'Witness' and that back half of the script, especially when I was writing, the way that they sustain the tension in that movie even when they're out on the farm is something that I directly looked to for the back half of this," says Johnson.