We Got This Covered: Can you tell us more about the telekinesis aspect of the story and what inspired that?
Rian Johnson: Well it was something that became necessary once I started realizing the whole thing was going to land on the shoulders of the character of Cid (Pierce Gagnon). I didn’t want him to just be like a baby genius who could grow up to be an evil genius. I wanted the stakes to be high and I wanted it to be like if this goes good he could be Superman or if this goes bad he could be really, really terrible. I’m a big fan of Japanese artist Katsuhiro Otomo who did “Akira” and also did a graphic novel called “Domu” which has a lot of this imagery in it of just the pure rage of a child kind of exploding in a very violent way.
So storytelling wise and writing wise that presented a problem though because we already had time travel in the movie, and the way I handled that was at the beginning when we’re explaining the time travel I kind of put the TK stuff in there as a throwaway and tried to just glance on it and kind of make a joke out of how it’s here but it’s not a big deal. Then by the end when the time travel has receded and we kind of know the time travel stuff, that’s when the TK stuff thickens up and you actually have to engage with it.
We Got This Covered: What was it like working with Pierce Gagnon who played Cid?
Rian Johnson: It was incredible. The first thing you have to adjust to is that Pierce is an actor, and the reason I say that I think that adults have this notion sometimes that you have to trick little kids into giving a good performance or that you have to kind of feed them lines. But when the camera is on, you realize Pierce is not saying each of these lines the way his mom told him to. He is actually listening to this actor who’s sitting across from him and he’s actually make-believing that he’s in this scene and he’s actually experiencing this back and forth. Pierce is also a normal kid when the cameras are off and he’s a healthy normal 5-year old kid. His mom is wonderful and he’s gonna be okay.
We Got This Covered: Most movies set in the future show how everything has fallen apart. Now that’s great from a storytelling standpoint, but is that a touchstone that you think people identify with?
Rian Johnson: Yeah, I think it’s something that’s appealing and storytelling wise it’s something that made a lot of sense for this. I happen to be an optimist; I actually think that things are going to get better. I feel like I am essentially optimistic and I think we’re evolving and I don’t think that the future we present here is a prediction, but having a rough environment just tends to lend more drama to your movie. So there’s something about that kind of dystopian future that you end up seeing in a lot of sci-fi movies. I know that’s the reason we had it for this.
We Got This Covered: Is there anything that dictates your view of the future when you wrote this screenplay? Was there ever a budgetary concern?
Rian Johnson: Not really because at this point it’s just as easy using CG to create a shiny future as it is to create a broken down realistic one. In many ways it’s more difficult to create a broken down realistic one because it has to be more photorealistic. So it’s more about the needs of the story, and this story is about characters who are acting from very self-serving, very selfish places.
Everything they do, they do horrible things in order to hold on to their little stack of gold. So building this world was all about showing an environment where you see why they’re acting that way and where you realize if they lose that whole stack of gold then it’s straight to the bottom, and the bottom is a terrible place. Also, design wise creating a grounded future seemed like a really interesting way to go.
We Got This Covered: Your previous films also dealt with the noir genre. Can you talk about your love affair the noir genre?
Rian Johnson: It’s a torrid love affair (laughs). It’s a genre I love and I also really love stuff where you can get at the small through the grand. Science-fiction for example is very good at that. Using this grand and kind of magical notion of time travel to get at a very heightened version of an older man and a younger man sitting across from each other and the “I’m not going to turn into you” and “you’re doing it all wrong” listen to me conversation, we’ve all been on one side of it or the other.
Noir is similar to that because it’s a very theatrical genre and it’s something that’s very heightened. Everything about it is shadows and fog, but at the same time the stuff that it gets to like feelings is great. It’s like in high school with “Brick” and those feelings of this class stratification that we all felt or at least I felt and that wish fulfillment to smash through that. That’s something you can look back to in your adolescent memories and it connects very deeply.
We Got This Covered: So is a noir musical comedy next for you?
Rian Johnson: Yes please!
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Rian very much for talking with us. Be sure to check out Looper, in theatres this Friday.Previous