Looper is the kind of creative film that’s been lacking in Hollywood. Film is still ultimately a business, it’s nice to see that some studios are willing to take risks and allow Rian Johnson a sizeable budget to play with. Looper is by no means perfect, but it has enough style to breathe fresh air into both science fiction and action genres.
We were lucky enough to sit with Mr. Johnson and Noah Segan, who plays Kid Blue in the film (and in my opinion, steals the show which you can read here,) to talk about the picture.
How much effort did you put into dealing with the logic issues of time travel?
Rian Johnson – Alot. That’s why as a writer time travel is real tricky. My goal for this was that time travel sets up a situation, and then you get it out of the way. I wanted it to be about the characters dealing with this situation and not the intricicies of the timeline. I didn’t want it to be a puzzle, I wanted it to be a ride. But that requires a lot more work, to make something simple than to make it complicated.
A lot of people have voiced their opinion about the make-up of young Joe vs. old Joe. Can you talk about that?
RJ – A lot of complications. I always wanted to use some kind of make-up for Joe. For some reason, it just made a lot of sense. But when we got Bruce Willis, Joe looks nothing like Bruce and that actually restricted us and we had to end up going much subtler than we should have. We used practical prosthetics to alter a couple of key features.
What about Joe’s make-up made him transform into Bruce Willis?
RJ – It was really Joe wrapping himself around Willis early on. For me, we all know what Bruce Willis looks like so well. Instead of pandering to it, let’s give it to Joe and our make-up artist to play with.
This movie really leaves a lot of questions at the end. You could talk for hours about what you thought happened, what they really were. Now that people are about to see it, are you ready for people to come up to you with their interpretation of the film?
RJ – I can not wait for that to happen. That’s kind of why you make a movie like this, and being a sci-fi nerd myself, that’s part of the fun of all this.
Noah Segan – They already did. We were in Austin, Texas the other day and someone at a Q and A and someone asked if my character was the younger version of another character.
RJ – It’s a tough line to ride, and that’s part of the fun of it. I am so curious to see what that’s going to be about. I’m not of the mindset that I hope everyone gets it right, I’m of the mindset of ‘God I can’t wait to see what people come up with,’ and chew on this.
What’s great about this film is how original it is in a time when the industry seems consumed with unoriginal ideas and franchises. Can you talk about that?
RJ – When you look at Looper, it’s not based on any specific property, but you’re pretty much looking and seeing where a lot of this stuff comes from. I see Witness in this, I see Akira in this, I see Blade Runner in this. It has stuff of these past films. I think the more important thing is that when you take something that’s ‘original’ or not and present it in a way that’s surprising and engages you on multiple levels. That to me is rare.
Have you been offered any other franchises or do you want to?
RJ – No, I want to keep telling my own stories, at least for now. I’m already working on the next one.
How big was the gun Kid Blue (Noah) uses in the film?
NS – Massive! It’s modeled after a revolver called a BFR. It’s a novelty piece. It’s a beautifully designed version of the classic revolver, and it was used for hundreds of years. They used it to take out tanks or giant animals. It’s not designed to carry around.
RJ – And Noah had to learn to spin this thing.
Noah, you had a lot of screen time with Jeff Daniels. How was it working with him?
RJ – You’re welcome!
NS – Overall it was fun making this movie. We had a nicer coffee maker, and Bruce Willis would show up occasionally, and Jeff Daniels was there (laughs.) But you really get in awe of the guy, because it’s Jeff Daniels and you start freaking out a little bit. Then you remember you have to do your job. You’re all there for the same reason. You’re there to do what you got to do.
Did you write the role of Kid Blue specifically for Noah, and how much of that was Noah, and how much of it was translated from the page?
RJ – Yes.
NS – It was all him!
RJ – You come up with nothing! (laughs) But even if you don’t change the page, there’s a lot of collaboration on the set. For me as a writer, once I get on set I have the script in my hand, and I’ve seen that movie in my head for a long time, and I’m bored with it. I want these guys to surprise me. That’s why I hire actors like Noah, Joe and Emily. Even if they’re saying the words on the page, they always bring something new.
NS – And it’s all about intention. We have to figure out how to get it across. We have to talk about what we need, and talk about how we look, and how we say the words for how the director wants it. And sometimes you do come up with stuff on the fly.
Looper is in theaters everywhere now.