Comic-Con: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Channels Bruce Willis in “Looper”

Comic-Con: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Channels Bruce Willis in "Looper"

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a young Bruce Willis in “Looper,” a time-bending thriller in which the actors are past and future Joe, an assassin sent back in time to kill his older self

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a young Bruce Willis in “Looper,” a time-bending thriller presented at Comic-Con on Friday in which the actors play past and future Joe, an assassin sent back in time to kill his older self.

While the character is named “Joe,” Gordon-Levitt actually is playing tough-guy Willis, facing himself down in clipped, understated dialogue and with a surprising resemblence to the older actor.

It was not easy, the actor explained.  He spent three hours a day in make-up having prosthetics applied that would suggest Willis, and he spent hours listening to Willis’ dialogue in old films.

“I’m not a good mimic, I don’t do good impressions,” said Gordon-Levitt at the panel presentation in Hall H on Friday. “I didn’t think an impersonation would be distracting, but I tried to internalize him and do something that made sense.”

He put Willis movies on his iPod, but “the most I learned was by hanging out with him,” said Gordon-Levitt. “He’s a super cool guy. He loved this job. He was clearly there to play.”

Willis didn’t make it to Comic-Con this year, but the director Rian Johnson was there along with Emily Blunt.

Johnson wrote the part for Gordon-Levitt, who is a long-time friend.

But, he said, “after we cast Bruce we realized, 'uh-oh, they don’t look anything alike.'”

The movie will be out in late September.