Looper

Face your future. Fight your past.

Emily as: Sara
Genre(s): Action | Thriller
Written by: Rian Johnson
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Other Cast: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan
Release Date: September 28, 2012
Production Budget: $30m
Total Worldwide Gross: $176.5m
Filming Locations: Thibodaux, Louisiana, USA

In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented – but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a “looper” – a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good… until the day the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.

Production Info

  • Most of the film was shot in New Orleans, but for two weeks, the film also shot on location in China.
  • The film takes place in 2044 and 2074.
  • To prepare for her log chopping scenes, Emily had logs delivered to her backyard in Los Angeles a month prior to filming.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt had prosthetics to make him look more like Bruce Willis in order to play his younger self. He also watched a lot of Bruce Willis films in preparation for the role so that he could impersonate some of his mannerisms.
  • The script originally called for Joe to move to Paris when he got older, hence why he tries to learn French. However, Rian Johnson realized they didn’t have the money to shoot in Paris. The story was changed so that he goes to Shanghai because the Chinese distributor for the film offered to pay for the crew to film there. Johnson accepted because his best alternative to set the scenes in Paris was to shoot them in New Orleans, which he didn’t want to do, and because he felt Shanghai better reflected the future setting of the movie.
  • The scene where Young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls off the fire escape was filmed on the actor’s 30th birthday. Gordon-Levitt was left hanging on the stunt wires while the crew sang Happy Birthday and wheeled out birthday cake.
  • Character Quotes

  • Listen up, fucker! I have shot and buried three vagrants in the past year! So I don’t care what hobo sob story you got. I get a dozen a week, pal. It cuts no cash with me. But if you show your face here again, I will cut you the fuck in half!
  • I took you in so you wouldn’t die. Now you’re not gonna die, so just take the morning to rest, then you need to get off my farm.
  • Yeah, you’re right. I’m not a killer. But I’m fine with how a blast of rock salt to your face won’t kill you. Now, you’re gonna tell me who you are and what the fuck you’re doing on my farm. [Cocks gun]
  • If he comes here, will you stop him? I’m asking can I trust you?
  • Listen, you use what you need and set up anywhere. But one thing. I don’t want you talking to Cid. I watch my son, you watch the cane. That’s the deal.
  • [Treating Joe’s wounds] It’s easy for things to get infected on a farm. To start falling off. Pussy.
  • He’s my son. I had Cid when I was 22. But I didn’t wanna give up my life in the city. So I dropped him here on the farm with my sister and she saw how I was living, so she took him. And my sister, she raised him. She loved him. He called her “Mom”.
  • In the city, young guys would hit on me by floating fucking quarters. And I wouldn’t tell them I was TK, but I would keep their quarters down. This one guy almost busted a blood vessel in his eye trying to get it up.
  • You know, when I came back, after my sister died… I remember seeing him, for the first time in two years, just sitting on the porch. I drove up crying. I’d been at this party all night in the city when I got the call. So I was wearing this ridiculous party dress. All my ridiculous shit. And I don’t know if he… If he even remembered me, but he looked at me… I abandoned him. I abandoned my baby. And I’ve seen so many men in the city who I look in their eyes and they’re just lost. So whether he loves me back or not, as long as I’m there to raise him, he’s gonna be taken care of. He’s gonna be safe. He’s never gonna get lost.
  • Sara: How long since you dropped?
    Joe: Dropped?
    Sara: Dropped.
    Joe: A day.
    Sara: A day, well…
    Joe: I can’t feel my legs.
    Sara: It’s ’cause you’re going through withdrawal you fucking junkie.
  • Joe: I’ve got to stay here for a little while.
    Sara: I’m not cool with that.
    Joe: I’m sorry.
    Sara: Well, I’m sorry, too. You just lost your “Take the morning to rest” privileges. Get off my farm.
    Joe: No.
    Sara: Get off my farm.
    Joe: You couldn’t scare a retarded hobo with that thing. Literally.
    Sara: This is a Remington 870. One blast could cut you the fuck in half.
  • Joe: What makes sense is we burn the fields. Level them. How much gas have you got in that barn?
    Sara: No, you can’t burn down my cane fields.
    Joe: This stuff’s half-dead anyway.
    Sara: Yeah, it’s seed for next year. It’s not gonna happen, you fucking nut.
  • Sara: I need you to stay away from that man. Okay? You just let him do his thing, but you stick with me. Okay?
    Cid: Is he not good?
    Sara: Well, we’re gonna see what he is, all right? But I need you to stick with me.
  • Quoting: Emily Blunt

    On her character: This character had such a singular voice and she had a really rich past in which we delve into. She’s a really tough cookie. Tough nut to crack. And I enjoy the nuances and the complexity of that part. It was a challenge to me and I do look for that. I try to mix it up as much as possible.

    On her character: She’s what they call ‘TK’ – she has telekinetic abilities. In the movie, people have them to varying degrees of power. Her powers are greater than some, but nothing compared to other characters in the movie.

    On Sara and Cid’s relationship: Her relationship with her son, Cid, is strained. He doesn’t call her Mom – he calls her Sara, which is just a stab in the heart to her every time he does it. She’s trying to establish a connection with him and nurture him, and he’s putting the stoppers on it at every turn.

    On her attraction to the role: Maybe I’m not a fan of the more generic idea of what a sci-fi film is, that might be a better way to put it. I’m not very interested in gadgetry or technological mumbo-jumbo – I’m just not. I’m not invested in it, I don’t geek out. When I read this script, I didn’t think of it as any sort of genre. I don’t see it as sci-fi film, to be honest. It’s an action film, it’s a thriller. It’s also emotional and it carves out its own space for itself.

    On her attraction to the role: I think I was so enthralled by the script and how rich in complexity it was, but particularly that last act on the farm where it wound it into being such a, [examination of the] big themes of nature versus nurture, and the redeeming quality of a mother’s love. The redeeming quality of a mother’s love and how vital that can be in a child’s life, and in anyone’s life. And I think that theme was emanating from every scene in the third act. So I didn’t feel any need to accentuate that or be aware of it. I felt that they were just sort of there. I felt that it wasn’t really much else you could do but just play the scene.

    On the time-travel theme: It used time travel as a backdrop for all the emotionality in the foreground of the movie. I liked how the time travel was used to complement everything else that was going on. When I’m developing scripts, more and more as I go on, I realize that people don’t care that much about exposition; they just want to experience something. There’s no need to over-explain everything.

    On working with guns: I loved it! Those were big guns! That shotgun had some kick and it was really heavy. I remember one particular scene when I’m pointing it at someone and I was holding it all day; by the end of the day my arm was practically falling off.

    On Sara and Joe’s relationship: I think that’s what I loved about it. When two people are in pain, sometimes that’s what you gravitate towards. It’s not about emotion, it’s about a need. I fully saw that scene as a need. They’re both so isolated in their own ways, and it feels necessary at the time. There’s no slow progression; love has nothing to do with it, really.

    On working with Pierce Gagnon: I just lucked out completely with him, because he’s quite an extraordinary kid. He was the only one, out of all the boys who read [for the part], who understood that he was playing a character. Pierce really does have that spooky intensity about him; but between takes he was messing around and wanted to go play outside. He didn’t want to sit in for my scenes, but I told him, “I sit in for yours, so you have to sit in for mine!” We shook hands on it. He was so gorgeous. What a gorgeous kid. I spent every waking moment I could with him so he would feel very comfortable with me. We hung out every lunch break, we took trips together before we started shooting — and we spent a lot of time together. It was quite devastating to say goodbye to him once we’d wrapped.

    On working with Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I became really good friends with Joe, since we had many scenes together. We were filming in this tiny place called Thibodaux, Louisiana, where there’s basically a Chili’s and a Taco Bell. We’d walk along to Chili’s in the evening and get some tacos – and bond. I have to say it feels like I met two people, though, when it comes to Joe. During the day he was like a stranger to me [because of all his makeup], and then at night he’d be goofy and funny and we’d have a laugh. It’s a testament to Joe how much he embodied that character because he was like two different people. I think he’s going to be very in demand after this movie comes out.

    On working with Rian Johnson: He’s just completely singular in what he does. I hadn’t seen The Brothers Bloom, and I loved Brick, and I thought it was such an ambitious idea. The thing you can’t fault Rian for is his complete dedication to an idea and to a tone and to a point of view. I mean, he just is so specific. Looper sort of took my breath away with its originality. The dialogue was something I hadn’t heard before, and it didn’t seem like it had been copied from somewhere else. It was so rich in concept, but rich in emotionality as well. I just don’t think those two things go hand in hand. I think a movie can either be fun or not, or kind of complex. I’d never seen one where it can be both.

    Critical Response

    Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Emily Blunt gives a stunning performance as a farm woman, Sara, who tends that cane field while she’s struggling to raise her explosive young son, Cid. (Explosive is an understatement for this kid, and astonishing is a fair description of Pierce Gagnon, the little boy who plays him.) Sara is a crucial figure in Joe’s spiritual development—much of the story turns on a mother’s love—and their times together are charged with tension and longing.

    David Edelstein, New York Magazine: The stars work hard, Gordon-Levitt to purge all traces of his puppy-dog persona, Willis to suppress his smirk, Blunt to smooth transitions that would trip up lesser actresses. (Her face seems incapable of registering a banal emotion.)

    Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: Their physical disparity notwithstanding, Gordon-Levitt and Willis both come across strongly, while Blunt effectively reveals Sara’s tough and vulnerable sides.

    Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: The casting is carefully considered, as well, from Willis, whose Old Joe is even more dangerous than Young Joe, to Emily Blunt, who goes American this time and plays a young mother with a winning warmth and vulnerability.

    Awards and Nominations

    Below is a list of all accolades Emily has received for her role in the film.

    NOMINATED: Critics Choice Awards – Best Actress in an Action Movie
    NOMINATED: Chicago Film Critics Association Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Georgia Film Critics Association – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: IGN Summer Movie Awards – Best Movie Actress
    NOMINATED: London Critics Circle Film Awards – British Actress of the Year (also for Your Sister’s Sister)