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Comic-Con 2012: 'Looper' Star Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Getting Kicked in the Head by Bruce Willis (Video)

The actor plays the younger version of Willis' character in the sci-fi time travel film.

In Looper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt not only stars opposite Bruce Willis, but he plays the younger version of Willis’ character. Before the Looper panel at Comic-Con, Gordon-Levitt spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about studying Willis to become him, and what it was like to fight the iconic action star.

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Gordon-Levitt stars as a hitman in a futuristic world, where he jumps through time to close his kills. He’s assigned to kill a man (Willis) who ends up being himself at the age 55.

Gordon-Levitt had makeup added to his face to look more like Willis, but also spent time studying the actor to seem more like a younger version of him.

“I really did study him. I watched his movie on repeat, I took the audio off of his movie and put them on my iPod so I could listen to him,” he said. “But really more helpful than anything was getting to hang out with him.”

In the film, when Gordon-Levitt’s character meets up with Willis, he gets engaged in a full-on fight. THR asked the 31-year-old actor what if felt like to do action scenes with an action star of Willis’ caliber.

“It feels a lot safer when somebody knows as well as he does how to do it,” he said.

“At the same time, I did get hit in the head once, which felt awesome,” he added. “I was like, ‘I just got hit in the head by Bruce Willis.’”

VIDEO: 'Looper' Trailer Puts Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a Tough Spot: Killing Bruce Willis

Looper, which opens in theaters on September 28, is directed by Rian Johnson, who Gordon-Levitt worked with on 2005’s Brick.

When it comes to how he picks his roles, the actor, who starred in the sci-fi hit Inception, and the romantic comedy, (500) Days of Summer, says he likes an eclectic mix in both what he acts in and what he watches.

“I know the business has a tendency to pigeonhole people, both in terms of filmmakers and audiences for that matter,” he said. “I think that while that’s mostly a safe wager as a businessman, I think that’s often wrong, and ignoring the fact that movies are different than like, toasters --- they’re works of art.”

“I know the ‘A word’ is not always the most welcome thing, but that’s just true,” he said.

Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford