2012 TIFF – “Looper” City News Interview

On TIFF’s very first day, City News sat down with Emily Blunt to discuss the festival opener Looper.

The mind-bending film forays into the future; time travel has been invented but is illegal and only used by criminal organizations. ‘Loopers’ are hired guns tasked with wiping out mob targets who have been sent back in time, never to be seen in the future again. But problems arise when ‘Looper’ Joe [Gordon-Levitt] fails to kill his future self [Willis]. Blunt plays Sara, a single mom from Kansas with a heavy past who gets caught up in Joe’s complicated conundrum.

So what’s leading lady Blunt like? She’s intelligent but never snobby and wickedly sarcastic—even hilarious. Her answers are peppered with laughter and jokes as she lounges casually in a hotel armchair wearing a black-and-pink blouse, jeans and heels.It’s impossible to capsulize how charismatic this British babe really is. With that said, we’ll keep out of it, and let Blunt share her thoughts on all things Looper, time travel and film.

“This festival was actually my very first foray into film festivals. I came with My Summer of Love when I was a baby to the business. I adore it because I think it’s a proper movie festival with proper movie lovers. There’s always a really great atmosphere here.”

On accepting an ‘action’ role:  why Looper?
“I have received action scripts. It just hasn’t been the right time or the right thing. But when I read Looper, to be honest I didn’t see it as an action movie.”

“People are talking about Looper as carving out new space for itself within a genre. But I’m not quite sure what genre it is. It’s action, it’s thriller, it’s sci-fi; its all of those things yet it’s actually very moving and poignant. I find it hard to box in. I think that’s why I reacted so passionately when I first read it and begged to meet Rian [Johnson] for it.”

On preparing to play Sara: was it hard?
“Exciting and challenging. She’s a very guarded character up until that scene where you discover through that monologue she gives as to why she is the way she is and why she’s as guarded and shut down as guilt-ridden as she is. The script protects the character in a way; protects who she really is.”

On working with Joseph Gordon-Levit
“I feel like I met two people on that job. The Joe that is now my friend and the guy that I worked with on these scenes was someone altogether very different. Not only was he very much ‘in the makeup’; he was that guy during the day. It didn’t stop us from having a great laugh but he was very committed to that character. And the bouncy, goofy guy I met at the end of the day when we went and had a meal was very different. He really embodied Bruce and found his essence without doing a cheap impersonation.”

On playing a mom
“I think it’d always wanted to play that in a film. I hadn’t had a chance to explore that mother-child relationship and this one was so complex and loaded.”

On Pierce Gagnon, her five-year-old co-star
“I was really excited to work with that little boy. He was amazing. We read a few different kids for it. This little dude walked in and it’s like the air shifted in the room; it was really extraordinary. You needed that rather extra presence for this part; he needed to be a little bit spooky and a bit intense. We all just did our best to keep up with him, to be honest.”

On adopting an American accent
“I worked with this fantastic dialect coach who’s a great friend of mine, Liz [Elizabeth] Himelstein. She works with a lot of Brits in LA, like Gary Oldman who does a pretty great American accent. She’s wonderful; she makes you do ludicrous vocal warm-ups which I did surreptitiously in my trailer every day. I decided that I wanted to listen to guys speaking, because the character’s so tough. Chris Cooper was someone I listened to many times. Once I was in it, I stayed in it throughout the day…mainly so as not to confuse Pierce.”

On the future: is Looper what you see?
“The script was a just a frighteningly accessible step ahead of where we’re at now. I found that quite disconcerting. Maybe that’s where we’re heading. We don’t know how long it might take to get to what this movie embodies, which is a slight post-apolcalypto, dog-eat-dog world.”

On time travel: would she?
“Oh, god…I’m probably a bit of a nervous traveller in that sense. Would I be able to come back or would I be stuck there? It depends. If I were able to go for a week and come back, then yes. There’s a part of me that would want to go back to the ‘20s and there’s also a part of me that would want to go back to caveman times and really see what that was like. No one has any tap on it; no one has any idea how people used to live, really.”