Toronto Film Festival: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis at 'Looper' opening night premiere make audience gasp, cheer

Looper

Joseph Gordon-Levitt sat on the edge of his balcony seat, crouched forward, hands clasped, his dark double-breasted jacket draped next to him, as he, and his Looper costars Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, along with close to 2,600 other people, watched the sci-fi thriller at Toronto’s enormous Roy Thomson Hall for its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, kick-starting the fest Thursday night.

Willis, more casual in a peachy shirt and dark jacket, and Blunt, looking superbly red carpet sexy in a red bandage dress with cutouts in the back, though she dialed up her nerd factor with big glasses while watching the film, sat in the same front balcony row as Gordon-Levitt and the movie’s writer-director Rian Johnson. Blunt’s hubby John Krasinski, who had just arrived earlier Thursday from Los Angeles, sat next to her.

The audience clapped, yelped, giggled at silly moments, and even gasped throughout the movie (twists and turns abound) – in which outlawed time travel is used by mob assassins called “loopers” to kill people brought back from the future. Scenes of Willis, playing looper Gordon-Levitt 30 years older, trying to fight off mobsters, as well as his own younger self, especially earned some big audience reactions. Willis + lots of loud guns + general mayhem = sweet nostalgia of his Die Hard films. Willis + close-up shots of his crinkled, wounded eyes = sympathy sighs. For one particularly bloody scene with bullets and brawny arms flying, fans literally cheered.

A bevy of bigwigs introduced the film, from TIFF CEO Piers Handling to Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director, who said, “This is not only the first time we’ve opened the fest with a sci-fi film, but with a U.S.-China joint production.”

Johnson was especially modest and giddy on stage, with a dash of self-consciousness, when he introduced Looper and its cast. The Roy Thomson Hall, one of more than 10 screening locations at the fest, which runs until Sept. 16, is also the largest.

“Wow, this is incredible,” he said. “It’s incredible to do the world premiere of Looper in a town that loves movies.” Johnson, though, said “it would be awkward” if the audience didn’t like it. The audience nervously tittered in response. All directors, big and small, can relate. The element of risk feels a bit heavy in the air.

With an impish tongue-and-cheek savvy in line with his noir-ish 2005 sleeper hit Brick, also starring Gordon-Levitt, Johnson called Blunt “a lovely young lady,” was clobbered in a bear hug on stage by Gordon-Levitt, and slyly referred to Willis as “a little indie actor you might have heard of.” More cheers!

As the audience filed out of the theater, after the movie was over, murmurs could be heard about a major plot twist, before kept under wraps. Let’s just say that Pierce Cagnon, as Blunt’s character’s dark-eyed boy, Cid, should be seeing his star burn a little brighter, soon.

For more film news, including on-site coverage of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival

Read more:
Toronto Film Festival: Emily Blunt on ‘Looper,’ Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s transformation, and why she had a big pile of wood in her backyard

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