Exclusive: Rian Johnson On Looper

'The approach is like The Terminator'

A refreshingly innovative take on the time-travel canon is almost guaranteed from Rian Johnson's Looper. For one thing, the director's short career to date has carried sparky genre reinventions as a hallmark in Brick and The Brothers Bloom among them; for another, it's got Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as cold-blooded assassins. The same cold-blooded assassin.

The June issue sees Empire on the Looper set and quizzing Johnson on the high-concept sci-fi. "At it's heart, it's a movie with a time travel-type premise that is actually an action drama," he explains, hinting at a second-act cranking of the gears. "The underlying genre shifts during the course of the movie."

The full trailer is full of promise, with Gordon-Levitt, Willis and their co-star Emily Blunt all up to their necks in transgenerational schtuck. "The approach I took was really similar to the first Terminator movie, where time travel sets up the premise and then gets out of the way. My job was not to make a version of time travel that does make sense but to somehow fool the audience into not noticing that it doesn't make sense. And that's what every successful time-travel movie actually does. It's just a magic trick."

Catch the magic when Looper is released on September 28. The new issue of Empire, meanwhile, hits shelves on Thursday April 26.

Empire Magazine's Skyfall Cover