Check out this excerpt from Rian Johnson’s original 4-page prose sketch for “Looper.” It was written in 2002 when Johnson was trying to get “Brick” made — “out of frustration,” he started writing short ideas that could be filmed on a shoestring budget.
Of course, the “Looper” we know now is far from “shoestring.” But Johnson’s first idea was to have only a few characters and locations, and to shoot the film with just a video camera and a couple of friends. The concept of a meeting between an older and younger self remained intact from the 2002 treatment to the 2012 film, as well as the older character’s future wife — “the woman who had saved him from my life.”
Read the excerpt below; the entire sketch is here:
There is a reason I’m telling you this.
The old man runs. The looper gives chase.
I couldn’t do it on the spot. Weakness. If I let him get away, I was a dead man. As opposed to what, I’m not sure.
They chase each other through the city. The old man gives the looper the slip, leaving an aged photograph – a woman in a hat at the beach. On the back, scrawled: “John 15:13”
My handwriting. Something I should know. Something deep and rooted in me, a flash of anger, at whatever it was. If I had any susceptibility to the trappings of proverbial righteousness I wouldn’t still be wearing this hat.
The looper picks up the old man’s trail, and chases him deeper in to the city.
And if I had a nickel for every verse from the good book I’d gotten from a condemned man on his knees in an alleyway. Live by the sword… cast the first stone… fear and guilt in the moments before death. I knew them. I was immune. I probably knew this one too. But at the moment it eluded me.
The looper chases the old man into a burnt out building, and stops, walking slowly, listening for a sign…
At first I thought it was the wind, but then I realized he was talking to me. A low graveled voice I almost didn’t recognize. He was telling me about the woman. It was hard for him. He kept starting and stopping. He spoke deliberately, as if very clearly trying to articulate a focused point. But his words were hazy memories, vague but vibrant emotional impressions of this woman.
Fantasy images overtake the looper. The woman, the beach.
He began the story of the thirty years between us, his past, my future. How in five years I would meet his wife. The woman who had saved him from my life. The woman he loved more than anything in the world. He told me about a beach. The retrieval of a parasol. The wind.