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3 Days to Kill – Returning Kevin Costner on his approach to acting

Throughout his career Kevin Costner has headlined in such iconic movies as No Way Out, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, JFK, The Untouchables and Dances with Wolves, which he produced, directed and starred in. The movie won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

In his new movie 3 Days to Kill, directed by McG (Charlie’s Angels), Costner portrays Ethan Renner, a CIA operative who is determined to give up his dangerous life to finally build a closer relationship with his estranged wife, Christine (Connie Nielson, Gladiator) and his teenage daughter, Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit).

Kevin Costner spoke with journalists at the press day for the movie.

You took some time off to get married and have a family. Have you changed your approach to acting now that you’re back?

3 Days to Kill - Kevin Costner
3 Days to Kill – Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) © 2013 – 3DTK Inc. Photo credit: Julian Torres

No, I never changed my approach to acting. I’ve always felt like I’ve gotten better. I feel like in my acting I’m better than I was three pictures ago, because 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.

I have learned my own patterns and I have watched other good actors, and I have done what every good actor does, steal ideas. You stand on the shoulders of people.

I’ve always loved the business, I’m a romantic about it. But, for me, this business always feels like pushing a rock uphill.

Did you get the chance to play around on the set and improvise?

3 Days to Kill - Kevin Costner
3 Days to Kill – Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) © 2013 – 3DTK Inc. Photo credit: Julian Torres

It was really scripted. It doesn’t mean we didn’t step into windows of opportunity that presented themselves. You should always do that. We had to write some scenes, but we didn’t write them on the day.

Never do that. Don’t write them on the day. [You need to] get really comfortable with it. I think we found some improv things but it was more disciplined.

When do you decide that a stunt is too dangerous and you should allow the stuntman to do it?

It used to be that my stunt guy and I would talk about it, when it was time for him to take over. The way you know you’re getting older is we would look at the [stunt] and he’d go, ‘You could make it.’ I can tell he starts getting scared.

3 Days to Kill - Director McG and star Kevin Costner
3 Days to Kill – Director McG and star Kevin Costner discuss a scene ©2013 3DTK Inc, photo by Julian Torres

Listen, I wanted to ride with the buffalo (in Dances with Wolves). Whenever you can put the audience in the car or on the horse, they’re now in the movie. But stunts have always had their place, and I have to measure them right now.

I’ve done things that if I made a mistake [I could have died]. Weird things happen. So I have gone from doing everything to listening to, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t do this.’

Kevin was asked how he separates being a director with being an actor, and what he looked for in McG as a director? Click below for his reply.

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And McG was asked what it was like directing an Academy Award winning actor? Click below for his answer

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