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Joseph Gordon-Levitt channels Bruce Willis — literally — for ‘Looper’ role

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Joe action-thriller “Looper.”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Joe in the action-thriller “Looper.”

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‘My favorite part of acting is becoming somebody else,” says Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Even when he has to become Bruce Willis.

That’s his job in the film “Looper,” openingSept. 28. Gordon-Levitt is a shooter who rubs out mob victims from the future, an era where you can’t hide any dead bodies because of DNA tracking.

Mobsters send the targets back in time, where loopers take care of business. The problem is when Gordon-Levitt’s older self — in the form of Bruce Willis — goes back to the past and runs into his younger self.

“The time travel story poses a unique challenge,” he says. “Not only am I basing my character off someone else. I had to sit across the table and try to match Bruce.”

To prep for the movie, Gordon-Levitt studied Willis. “I watched his movies. I ripped the audio off his movies and put them on my iPod,” he says. “Bruce also recorded himself doing my lines. Just spending time with him was one of the most productive things. We’d hang out. Have a meal. “He’s such an icon. But once I met him, it didn’t feel like that anymore.”

As time passes, Gordon-Levitt has to physically match Willis, which he says, wasn’t easy.

“That came from a brilliant makeup artist and magician,” he says, laughing. “I’d spend three hours every morning in the makeup chair. It’s not the most fun thing having a paintbrush full of glue in your face. They changed my face, nose, lips, brow and eye shape. I’d see a face other than my own, which was a bizarre experience.”

What did Willis think? “There was one day when we were shooting a scene where we were yelling at each other,” he says. “I was more nervous about that scene than others. He’s a very soft-spoken guy and it’s hard to match his voice. After the take, he stopped and actually said, ‘You sound like me.’

“Then he turned and walked away. He will never butter you up, but that was still a great victorious moment for me.”

Gordon-Levitt turned up earlier this year in “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Premium Rush,” and he plays Robert Todd Lincoln in the upcoming “Lincoln,” directed by Steven Spielberg.

“What Daniel Day-Lewis did in the movie [as Honest Abe] is uncanny,” he says. “I was just astonished. I had no problem just genuinely believing that I was speaking to Abraham Lincoln.”

Gordon-Levitt says that connecting with audiences is his goal in the film projects he chooses.

“The kinds of movies I like to do are entertaining on one hand. But they also give you something to think about and talk about after the final credits,” he says.

Big Picture News Inc.

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