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Joseph Gordon-Levitt (foreground) and Paul Dano star in the thriller 'Looper.' Gordon-Levitt is a younger version of Bruce Willis' character.
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 9/28/2012
TORONTO--If an actor's face is his fortune, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is rolling the dice, big-time.
"Looper," the sci-fi time-travel extravaganza that opens today, stars Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo and who's the guy on the movie poster?
It's Gordon-Levitt--looking slightly more recognizable than he is in the movie, directed by Rian Johnson and in which Gordon-Levitt plays Joe Simmons, a hit man--or "looper"--for the mob, circa 2044.
Time travel isn't possible in Joe's time, but it is in 2072, when gangsters send their victims back in time to be rubbed out by the likes of Joe, thus creating the perfect disposal system for unwanted wise guys.
In Johnson's script, the wrinkle is that, at some point, one's victim can very well be one's self--as it is with Joe, who is supposed to kill his older version (Willis) but lets him get away ("letting his loop run").
He thus has to chase himself through the movie lest the mob chief from the future (Daniels) have the younger Joe knocked off instead.
Confusing? Not really. "I didn't want it to be algebra homework," Johnson said.
But if the face Gordon-Levitt is wearing seems disconcertingly familiar, it's supposed to be: Under the prosthetics and behind the evocative voice, Gordon-Levitt is impersonating a young Willis--at least as imagined by the filmmakers and the leading man.
At the Toronto International Film Festival, where "Looper" premiered two weeks ago, Gordon-Levitt was asked whether Willis -- who seemed to be movie-starring all over town--had met him halfway. The answer was, not really.
"Well, I feel like it's proper for the younger man to defer to his senior," Gordon-Levitt said, "and someone as accomplished and fantastic as Bruce is."
Besides, said Gordon-Levitt, who was at TIFF last year with "50-50" and starred this summer in "The Dark Knight Rises," Johnson gave him the kind of opportunity he likes: a chance to disappear.
"That's my favorite thing to do as an actor," he said. "To become somebody else. My favorite performances are always the ones where you don't see the actor, you see the performance. So to say I disappear into the movie is the highest compliment."