By Rachel Bennett
Television Editor & Columnist
They say the third time’s the charm, and that appears to be the case for writer-director Rian Johnson.
Looper, Johnson’s third and most ambitious feature , opened on Sept. 28 and quickly became one of the year’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful releases. The story of a man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) assigned to kill the 30-years-older version of himself (Bruce Willis) after time-travel is discovered, it’s a rare blockbuster that’s both creative and smart. It has thus earned Johnson comparisons to fellow filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky.
Oh, and Looper is also immensely profitable: made on a mid-range budget of just $30 million, it grossed $66 million at the U.S. box-office and another $97 million abroad. How many other 2012 films can compete with those profit-margins?
Looper marks the second large collaboration between Johnson and star Gordon-Levitt, who worked together on Johnson’s first feature, the 2005 high school drama Brick, a $475,000 neo-noir that caught a lot of people’s attention after it played at Sundance and went on to gross over $3 million internationally. Gordon-Levitt also made a cameo in Johnson’s second film, The Brothers Bloom, a $20 million film that was rejected by critics and ignored by moviegoers upon its release in 2008.
I recently caught up with Johnson, of whom I am admittedly a big fan, over the telephone to discuss his life and career.