Toronto Film Festival Opens: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Gets a Bruce Willis Makeover

Exclusive! The actors' Looper director talks about filming the new action thriller, plus he reveals his "secret weapon"

By Marc Malkin Sep 06, 2012 1:00 PMTags
Looper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce WillisSony Pictures

If you want to look like Bruce Willis, it will take you at least three hours ever day in a makeup chair.

That's how long it took Jospeh Gordon-Levitt, 31, to look like a younger Willis, 57, in Looper, their new action thriller which premieres tonight at the opening of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Written and directed by Gordon-Levitt's Brick director Rian Johnson, Looper (in theaters Sept. 28) is a time-traveling mind-bender about a group of men in 2044 called loopers who assassinate people sent to them from the future.

Gordon-Levitt stars as a looper on the hunt to kill himself, only 30 years older and played by—you guessed it!—Willis.

"Joe was such a saint," Johnson tells me. "He was in a chair for three hours every morning. That meant even for early mornings he was there three hours before anyone else."

To make matters worse, Gordon-Levitt wasn't allowed to eat much.

"He only could drink these protein shakes during the day because oil from food would mess up his makeup," Johnson said, adding with a laugh, "He was tired, hungry and uncomfortable during the entire shoot. But he was a real trooper. I was very impressed."

Rounding out the cast are Emily Blunt, Jeff DanielsPiper Perabo and Paul Dano.

And then there's Pierce Gagnon, a child actor who was just 5 when they shot the movie. His acting is beyond impressive, playing a child with special telekinetic powers.

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"He's our secret weapon," Johnson said. "We would sit down and do three-page dialogue scenes straight through and then you would tell him an adjustment for half-way through the scene and we would do the scene again and he would make the adjustment perfectly.

"But he wasn't an adult in a 5-year-old's body," he continues. "In between takes he was a normal kid, getting fidgety and antsy."

As for tonight's Toronto Film Fest gala, Johnson said, "I'm getting so excited. We have had the movie finished for three or four months so it's sort of been like this waiting game. I'm just extraordinarily ready for people to start seeing it."