When I spoke with Joseph Gordon-Levitt on September 12, 2012, it wasn’t with his latest film, Rian Johnson’s LOOPER, that I wanted to start. Instead, I was curious about why he had flown to thousands of miles in order to make a cameo of only a few seconds in Johnson’s second film, THE BROTHERS BLOOM. The experience of making Johnson’s debut film, BRICK, did more than give Gordon-Levitt a great role in a dazzling film, it was the start, as they say, of a beautiful friendship. After discussing the trick of playing Bruce Willis’ younger self in the time-traveling plot of LOOPER, he discussed what has guided him in making such smart choices career-wise. We finished up by talking about a short film Levitt-Gordon made and narrated based on a French poem by Jacques Prevert, an effort that helped launch the next phase of Levitt-Gordon’s career behind the camera with Johnson as mentor.
LOOPER is a cautionary tale about quick fixes, personal responsibility, and the difference between knowledge and wisdom. The conceit is time travel in a near and far future where only the mob uses it, and does so only to dispose of people by sending them backwards in time to their execution, where they can never be traced. To do this they use the eponymous Loopers, hit-men with short-range guns and a convenient sense of morality. The story has Joe, a Looper played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, confronting and confronted by his older self, played by Bruce Willis in a action-packed dialectic about more than doing the right thing at the right time and then living with the consequences. It’s about being able to know, in a world of infinite possibilities and infinite timelines, what that right thing is. The film co-stars Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Noah Segan, and Jeff Daniels. His previous work includes Greg Araki’s MYSTERIOUS SKIN, Scott Frank’s THE LOOKOUT, and two tours of duty with Christopher Nolan in INCEPTION and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. He can also be seen this summer zipping around Manhattan as a bike messenger with an unswerving moral compass in PREMIUM RUSH.