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Indie actor Noah Segan has found himself a part of two filmic families. That is to say he's been welcomed within the horror community for turns in the weird, wild likes of DEADGIRL and SOMEONE'S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR, as well as a stalwart component of the films of Rian Johnson. Johnson, one of the best and most exciting new voices, now sees the opening of his biggest picture yet, LOOPER. And while the two worlds don't necessarily clash for Segan (who's overdue for a breakout) in the time travel tale, he did give Fango the lowdown on LOOPER and some of its spectacular displays of violence, and reflected on past genre work.
In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented - but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a "looper" - a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) - is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good... until the day the mob decides to "close the loop," sending back Joe's future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.
FANGORIA: Who exactly do you play in LOOPER?
NOAH SEGAN: I play an antagonist, I wouldn’t want to go so
far as to call him a villain. A little spoiler: nobody is that good in this
movie. Everybody is some form of bad, has some villainous traits; some, for
better reasons than others. I would say the easiest comparison is if you’re
ready for a cat-and-mouse game between Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt,
get ready for me to be the bulldog chasing both of them.
FANG: Obviously, you have a history with Rian and Joe. It
doesn’t seem hard to figure out how this film came to you, but what is it that
you love about Rian Johnson and what spoke to you about your character?
SEGAN: This is the greatest gift that you could give someone
in our business. Which is, the boss, the idea man gave me the idea. He put a
really nice bow around it and put it under the tree and said, “that’s yours.
That’s your gig, man.” I don’t know if it’s a matter of first impressions based
on the kind of role I played in BRICK—which I just got because I was the right
guy for the role and he auditioned me and he liked me, and we got on and we
became friends and it made sense—but there is a lot if parallels in terms of
the vulnerability of the character and the pathos; the diligence and the sort
of danger that that engenders. Again, you’re dealing with evil people, you’re dealing
with dangerous people, scared people. And that’s something that the character I
think Rian might argue shares with me in real life. I’m not an evil guy, but I
can be a little unhinged.
FANG: Well, the way you describe seems like a natural reflection
of the world. No one is clearly defined as good or bad.
SEGAN: And the thing is, Rian didn’t do anything really
different than he did on BRICK. He didn’t treat anybody differently. The scope
was larger. We needed to have more money because we needed to blow more stuff
up and we needed to have better costumes and more time to do it, but the act
was no different. My act was no different, pun intended. What he did was no
different. The intention was still the exact same thing as he did when he made
BRICK for $400,000. Now we’ve got more money because we needed it to tell this
particular story. It was put to good use. And that’s the reason why you need
that money. I don’t think Bruce made DIE HARD bread. I sure didn’t. It wasn’t
about that. It was about maintaining the spirit of what works for Rian. You
hang out with your family, you don’t think about the budget. You go over to
your mom’s for dinner and you bring a pie with you and somebody else brings a
bottle of wine. It’s potluck.
FANG: Homemade community.
SEGAN: The ingredients got better, but it’s still homemade.
That’s your quote right there!
FANG: Tell me about your gun, which you’ve previously blown
my mind with.
SEGAN: There are two
kind of big, star weapons in the movie. They are much like me and Joe, foils
for one another. The Looper’s gun, the gun that Joe uses is called a
Blunderbuss. It is sort of the pure distillation of a shotgun; a brutish,
inaccurate, exploding weapon. It’s a tube with a trigger. It is the modern
distillation of the concept of something that just blasts and destroys anything
in front of it. The Gatmen Gun, the gun that I use, is a very modern take on
another classic weapon: a single-action revolver. It isn’t a Colt .45, but the
same thing that people carried in the Civil War and in the Old West; very elegant, perfectly made revolvers that, in
the case of LOOPER, happened to use ammunition usually reserved for big game
hunting. Our bullets, that are a .45-70 caliber bullet, are not put into
handguns. They’re made for giant rifles that are designed to take trophies
home, or shoot at a tank. And Rian found this company that makes these sort of
novelty, single-action revolvers in this caliber and then had them adjusted for
the Gatmen; had them powder-coated black. In my case, had mine chromed out with
a flat-sight and a wooden grip reminiscent of a western gun that my character
would want to use.
FANG: You mentioned a modern distillation, or modern take on
these classic ideas and I think that’s a theme, or aesthetic in Rian Johnson’s
films. BRICK was this contemporary noir, but not a wink.
SEGAN: Actually, I would make an argument that I don’t think
Rian views BRICK as a noir. We view it as a detective story. And there is a big
distinction. BRICK is not necessarily a dark film, and I mean this
aesthetically. If you actually look at noir movies, everything is in a fucking
shadow. Everything is this hyper-stylized, physically in terms of the
camera-work and the lighting, and the wardrobe for that matter. L.A.
CONFIDENTIAL is a noir. I think BRICK is a detective story and I think that’s
what allows it to be left of center, is that it doesn’t look like a noir. It has
all the trappings of a detective story. I think that’s something that’s very
easy for us to forget about, because we want to put everything together.
FANG: Where I’m going is this idea that even in something
like THE BROTHERS BLOOM, it’s a very classically-minded tale of these con men,
but it’s also very modern. LOOPER looks like it has that sense of a classic
chase within sci-fi, and not that it’s rainy, but this BLADE RUNNER idea that
it’s not so futuristic. It’s a future you can see. And I think the society we
live in, speaking of the style you put forth and the things you admire, it
seems like a perfect place for you to end up.
SEGAN: That’s something I have to give Rian credit for as
something we connect on. One of our shared hobbies is photography, and film
photography. We have a darkroom. His wrap gift to me was a beautiful camera, a
Leica M6. That is a specific model that was made about thirty years ago and
models have been made before and after, and this particular model, this
particular vintage is considered to be one of the finest film cameras ever
made. They didn’t improve on it. A lot of people would argue they detracted
from its quality. This was it. So, that kind of aesthetic, that kind of taste
is something that not only lends itself well to being a filmmaker and a storyteller,
because you’ve got attention to detail, but in terms of science fiction, that
detail is technical, that detail is touchable. The best sci-fi is something
that we feel is just out of reach. And also, credit to Rian, our society in
LOOPER is dystopian, but it is not apocalyptic.
FANG: Another two terms that have become interchangeable.
SEGAN: Exactly, it’s that same thing where we jump to a
conclusion, and I think if we’re able to steer away from that conclusion in the
case of LOOPER, we steer away from apocalyptic into a term we’ve now been
throwing around a ton: post-manufacturing. So, the idea being that everything we
have is only there because it was built to last. So, these weapons that are so
simple, yet so elegant, are there because they were the best thing, the most
durable and functional. The cars, the fact that the flying shit doesn’t really
work. The flying shit is all fucked up, but here you’ve got some jerry-rigged
pick-up truck which is built to last. We’re still wearing leather on our shoes.
Why? Because leather is still the best shit we could figure out to make a show
out of. I think that again, much like BRICK and much like BLOOM, bridges a gap
between LOOPER and the audience that makes them feel a little bit closer to
reality, or the reality of the film; the reality Rian is suggesting.
FANG: You’ve mentioned LOOPER is surprisingly violent, and
the FX could be something of interest to Fango fans.
SEGAN: Yes, I think as a guy who’s been welcomed into the
horror world, and is very proud to be a part of that environment, it’s
something that I can appreciate. I feel like I can appreciate good horror and
good gags like a fan can, at this point. I’ve been educated by the fans to know
what to look for, to know why it’s right. And, Rian is not, by trade, a horror
director. He’s a sensitive guy, he doesn't watch a lot of horror, it’s just not
his bag. And yet, he knew we needed to have people getting shot, and when they
get shot, they fucking explode. And he knew there were some really important
plot points, that are big spoilers, that would have to result in some pretty
gross shit. In some cases we’re dealing with a lot of blood, a lot of real
gore, and in other cases, mutilation, frankly. Real, articulated mutilation. I
know I’m speaking to my constituents here, who will appreciate me being able to
lay it on thick, and I’m happy to do that. There are body parts all over the
place, and that is part of the story. Because Rian is not desensitized to that,
he has ensured that is scary as shit. It is really hideous. It makes you afraid
without the necessity for a jump, you’re there. You have to watch a sequence
where someone falls apart, literally.
TO BE CONTINUED
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