Directed by McG and written by Luc Besson & Adi Hasak, the action-thriller 3 Days to Kill tells the story of Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner), an international spy who is trying to find the always balance between work life and home life. Determined to give up his high-stakes life to finally build a closer relationship with his estranged wife and daughter, he must complete one last mission before he can leave his life of danger behind. The film also stars Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld and Connie Nielsen.
During a press conference to promote the film’s release, Kevin Costner talked about how challenging the film’s physicality was, finding his own balance between his work life and home life, that he’s never changed his approach to acting, how he enjoys being there for what the director needs, and how he believes you should always write new scenes or do any rewrites ahead of time, and not once you’re on set, while Amber Heard (who plays Vivi, the agency handler assigned to Ethan’s last mission) talked about the power struggle between Ethan and Vivi, and how fun it was to play a seductive spy hunter. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
KEVIN COSTNER: I’ve been evolving in my stunt career. It used to be that my stunt guy and I would talk about it, and talk about when it was time for him to take over. The way you know you’re getting older, we’d look at the thing and he’d go, “You could make it.” I could tell that he’s started getting scared. I said, “I can’t.” So, there is an evolving thing. Fortunately, I didn’t have that over there because I had a new stunt coordinator. You have to measure things. Whenever you can put the audience in the car, on the horse, or carrying your daughter, they’re now in the movie. But stunts have always had their place, and I have to measure them now. I’ve done things where, if I make a mistake, I could die. You really need to look at each thing. That usually is a mechanical failure. So, I have gone from doing everything, to listening and saying, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this.”
This film shows the balance that Ethan is trying to find between work life and home life. When you have demanding jobs like you do, what’s that balance like for you, personally?
COSTNER: When dealing with women, Ethan gets frustrated, and my house is the same. There’s a level of humor that we tried to bring into the movie without winking at the camera. That’s always important. I think it’s funnier if you don’t wink, and say, “I’m really frustrated by you, by her, by my wife, by my daughter.” So, there’s a part of the world where he’s very efficient, in his life, and he’s not that great in this particular aspect. He can be shut down.
AMBER HEARD: Our relationship is an interesting one, and it’s the power struggle of these two strong characters constantly going against each other. What’s interesting is that he’s very accomplished and he’s very good at his job. He’s tried and true. He’s a veteran of the trade that they’re in. And she’s a whole other school. It’s a new school. It’s very completely opposite, in some ways. They’re adversaries, which is what I liked. It’s rare that you see that dynamic between a man and a woman in a film. I liked that that didn’t bother or hinder McG’s imagination, or his desire to see that come to fruition. He didn’t care. It was like, why couldn’t I be his boss, just because I wear high heels? You don’t see that often, which is why I liked it.
Amber, what was it like to play this fun, seductive spy hunter?
HEARD: What I was attracted to about her was this idea that I could play with the suspension of reality. Vivi doesn’t live in the same world that we live in. She doesn’t even live in the same world that the rest of the characters live in. That heightened sense of reality, and the freedom that comes with that, drew me to her. I also liked that she can be seductive, but that’s not where her power is. Her power is skill and knowledge, and her ability to do her job well and be unaffected by it, on an emotional level. There are many things about her that make her who she is. Being seductive is just another side effect of all the other stuff. It didn’t affect her. It was just a consequence. And I always prefer to shoot the gun than wear a wedding dress. It’s far more interesting to me.
Kevin, you’ve said previously that you were taking time off from acting to be with your young children, but you seem to be working more now. Did that re-energize you, and have you changed your approach to acting, at all?
COSTNER: Well I’m worn out, now. No. I’ve never changed my approach to acting. I’ve always felt like I’ve gotten better. I think that all of us can get better. I feel like, in my acting, I’m better than I was three pictures ago. I think about it. I’m a slow study. It takes me a long time to grasp the material, in order to perform it. But when I come to the set, on the first day, I know the whole movie. That’s why I have to start so early. So, I have learned my own patterns, and I have watched other good actors. I have done what every good actor does and stolen ideas. You see things. You stand on the shoulders of people. But yeah, I had the babies and did that. And then, I went and did Hatfields & McCoys. And then, I lined up these movies. I wish they weren’t so packed, but on the other hand, I’m glad I did them. That’s just the way it plays out. I’m not re-energized. I’ve always loved the business. I’m a romantic about it. But for me, this business is always pushing a rock uphill, it feels like.
In addition to being an exceptional actor, you’re also an Academy Award-winning director. How do you separate Kevin Costner, the director, from Kevin Costner, the actor, when you’re acting in a project, and what was it like to work with McG?
COSTNER: It’s easy for me. I don’t have all the worries that McG has, every morning. On the weekend, when everybody’s deciding what restaurant they’re going to go to in Paris or what they’re going to see, the director starts to hate everybody because he has to really think about what he has to do. I’ve never had that problem. And when it comes to the script, we need to be on the same page. We didn’t differ that much, and you shouldn’t, if you’re in sync. There’s going to be times when you have a different approach on a scene, that just shouldn’t happen very often, and it didn’t with us. I learned some things watching McG. I came prepared to do what I was supposed to do, which was act. I was always prepared. People that do anything sometimes have bad days. When I direct, I tell my actors, “There’s going to be a day when I’m not as good as others, and on those days, I really need for you to be good.” You have to deal with the whole life when you’re making a movie – boyfriends, girlfriends and things – and some days you’re just not as good. So for me, my pledge is always, on that day, if the director will tell me, “Hey, I’m not really feeling that good,” I get a little bit stronger. I’m a coach’s coaching player. I like to be on the floor. So, if the coach tells me what to do out on the floor, I can get it done. I’m really comfortable being directed.
COSTNER: It was scripted. That doesn’t mean we didn’t step into some windows of opportunity that presented themselves. You should always do that. But, that was a very scripted thing. We had to write some scenes, but we didn’t write them on the day. You should never do that. Don’t write them on the day. You have to get really comfortable with it, and your director needs to get a little bit more about how they would direct it. So, I think we found some improv things that found their way in because you feel it, but it was more disciplined.
3 Days to Kill opens in theaters on February 21st.