I am 100% convinced that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to be one of the biggest working movie stars of his generation.
He may not be there quite yet, but he's been acting since a very young age, and by now, it's clear that he's got charisma in spades and that he makes really great choices as an actor. That's both onscreen and offscreen, as it doesn't matter if you're giving the best performance in the world if it's in a movie that no one ends up seeing. He's certainly bet on some very small films like "Hesher" and "Mysterious Skin" and, of course, "Brick," but he's also been able to work in films that made much larger commercial splashes like "Inception" and "G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra" and, of course, "The Dark Knight Rises."
It feels to me like "Looper" lands right in the middle between those two extremes. It's a studio release, but it's a film that feels intensely personal. It's a science-fiction film with some really remarkable moments of effects flourishes, but only in very specific moments and in service to the stories. It's a huge film in terms of ideas, but it's also very small-scale in terms of how many characters are involved. Much of the success (or failure, I suppose, depending on how you react to it) of the film is due to the confident and controlled lead performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
There's a certain amount of ego that's involved in being an actor, and the idea of altering your face, one of the primary tools of any actor, to resemble someone else in the movie is sort of a huge thing to ask them to do, and yet Gordon-Levitt seems to have just rolled with it, and the make-up that he's under never seems to frustrate him as an actor. His agents and managers must be positively frantic about the idea that he's altered his appearance to such a strong degree in what could be a major career moment for him, and yet talking to him, it feels like it was one of those choices that would have been impossible to talk him out of.
Finally, I loved the short conversation we had about Pierce Gagnon, the young actor who plays a pivotal role in the film, and the way it tied back into Gordon-Levitt's own early days in front of the camera. It's easy to forget just how long he's been doing it as an actor, but there is a reason he's this confident and relaxed while still this young, and I would imagine he's just going to keep getting better as he gets older. We're in for a lot of years and, I hope, a lot of great movies, and I look forward to seeing how he manages things from here.
"Looper" arrives in theaters tomorrow.