Joseph Gordon-Levitt Says ‘Looper’ Defies Sci-Fi Label

'It's got the badass action, and it's a thrill if you want to just watch it for that,' actor says of Rian Johnson's flick at Comic-Con.

SAN DIEGO — At San Diego Comic-Con, Joseph Gordon-Levitt told a Hall H audience that “Looper” was the first movie ever written specifically for him. The “Dark Knight Rises” actor even plays a guy named Joe in the upcoming flick.

“Looper” blends sci-fi, action and densely layered drama with a tale about assassins who take their victims out with the assistance of time travel. Gordon-Levitt’s character is tasked with killing his future self, who happens to be played by action-hero icon Bruce Willis.

“It’s a sci-fi movie in the tradition of ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘The Matrix’ or ‘Inception’ that gives you a lot to think about,” explained Gordon-Levitt, speaking exclusively to MTV News in San Diego, where he, co-star Emily Blunt and and writer/director Rian Johnson debuted footage. “It’s got the badass action, and it’s a thrill if you want to just watch it for that,” he continued. “But if you want to, you can find a really dignified drama underneath the genre.”

During the Hall H panel, Gordon-Levitt also regaled the Con audience with tales of how he worked to capture the essence of Willis (it involved watching Willis’ movies on repeat, listening to his voice on an iPod and wearing a few facial prosthetics). Blunt called it simply “the best movie” she’s been in.

“I loved ‘Looper’ so much ’cause it has that completely kick-ass, action/thriller element to it, but yet there’s a real complex story in there,” Blunt agreed. “The movie is three steps ahead of you at every single turn, and I think it’s rare to find a movie like that. I had to read [the script] three times before I really understood it. Even on the third time, I was like patting myself on the back for keeping up with it. I was like, ‘I’m with it this time. I’m there.’ I hadn’t even come to my character yet, I was 30 pages in, and I called my agent. I said, ‘Get me in the room with this guy now! This script is amazing.’ ”

Gordon-Levitt first collaborated with Johnson on the writer/director’s first film, “Brick,” which similarly blended genres. Hard-boiled crime-noir collided with high school in the 2005 movie, which inspired Roger Ebert to write of Johnson, “You’re good. You’re very good.”

“He and I have been really good friends since we made ‘Brick’ together,” Gordon-Levitt said. “He’s literally one of my best friends in the world and has been for years now. It wasn’t even that long after we finished shooting ‘Brick’ that he started talking to me about this time-travel idea that he had. And then years later, he finally showed me the script.”

Where the genre-melding of “Looper” will ultimately place it in the DVD aisle remains to be determined, but Blunt had a great suggestion: “Carve out a new space for it,” she declared. “It is a sci-fi/action movie — I think that’s really what he wanted to make — but within it, there’s an emotional drama happening too.

“I think its complexity is what will keep people seeing it again and again and again,” she added. Making it a perfect movie for Comic-Con crowds.

“Because Rian has been thinking up this, this idea has manifested in his head for years,” Gordon-Levitt chimed in. “So he’s thought [of] every single thread. Every single reveal or twist or turn in the movie has been thought out perfectly. So I think there’s a lot to nerd out over. ”

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