Better-known for romantic comedies and drama, Emily Blunt certainly stepped out of her established comfort zone by accepting the role in “Looper.” Drawn in by the unique storyline and original screenplay, Blunt plays Sara, a mysterious, isolated country woman whose motives are murky and unclear — at least until the very end.
Moviefone got the chance to chat with Blunt at the Toronto Film Festival, where she spoke in detail about why, despite her opinion of sci-fi films, she chose to star in “Looper,” the ridiculously good child actor in the movie and hanging out in rural Louisiana.
You’ve said before that you’re not a fan of sci-fi movies. What made you want to be a part of this particular film?
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.
This film really took an interesting approach to time travel — that is, it didn’t ruin the whole concept or make the movie confusing.
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. You realize how much you can actually pare stuff down.
“Looper” seems to start out as a sci-fi film, and by the end it’s something entirely different.
Yes, and the movie that I watched, and what Rian and I talked about, was “Witness,” the end act of “Witness.” The tension, the longing, the isolation and the influence of someone coming in to interrupt the balance of things is very much inspired from that film.
How much did you like the guns and gunplay in the movie?
I loved it! [Laughs] 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.
The child actor in the film, Pierce Gagnon, is remarkable. Did you develop a special relationship with him for this mother-son portrayal to be so convincing and accurate?
Number one, 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!” [Laughs] 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.
He had an intensity that not a lot of child actors bring to the screen.
Oh yeah. Remember that little kid in “The Sixth Sense”? Haley Joel [Osment] was extraordinary. It’s very rare that you find those kids who can do it. Pierce was five years old at the time of filming … and we’d often forget how young he was.
Were you able to develop that same bond with the other adult actors as well? Sara is pretty isolated on her farm.
I became really good friends with Joe [Gordon-Levitt], 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. [Laughs] 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.
What about the romance element in this movie?
It quite literally comes out of nowhere. 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.