3 DAYS TO KILL's McG Interview: American Filmmaker In Paris


3 DAYS TO KILL director McG and Kevin Costner traveled to Paris to shoot the Luc Besson-produced film. He’s explaining why he had to adapt to the French aesthetic of filmmaking. 

Kevin Costner headlines the international spy thrillerm3 DAYS TO KILL as a former Secret Service Agent lured into one more assignment while trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Filmed in and around Paris, France, Kevin Costner and director McG (Charlie’s Angel, Terminator Salvation) shot with an entirely French crew. Written and produced by French filmmaker Luc Besson (Transporter 2, Taken 2, The Professional), McG tells CineMovie he went out of his comfort zone to shoot in a foreign land with a crew that spoke mostly French. He admits his French wasn’t “good” so he approached it in a different way.

“The French have a different aesthetic directed towards cinema. That’s a good thing. I know who I am and what I wanted to do as an American filmmaker, and Kevin Costner is very strong and an American filmmaker. I thought it would be wise to do a lot of listening and just lean into the French aesthetic.”

Kevin Costner also knows what he wants and getting him on board as the protagonist of 3 DAYS TO KILL was work. McG says the Academy Award winner director (Dances with Wolves) and actor wanted to make sure he was working with “like-minded people.” Costner has been making quite a comeback this year and last with numerous roles in ensemble pictures (Man of Steel, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), but this film signaled Cosner’s return to leading man status. That thought put extra pressure on McG

“I wanted to make sure we came through and delivered the best version of Kevin Costner.  That for me was the goal.”

For McG, 3 DAYS TO KILL was his first time directing a single lead. His past work on television (Nikita, Supernatural, The OC) and on film always included an ensemble cast. So the pressure was there on both fronts.


Kevin Costner has plenty of action films under his belt, but was the 59-year-old game on doing his own stunts?  Apparently too game from what McG tells us:

“I had to calm him down a lot. He wanted to do his own stuff like crashing all the cars, do the driving and go over the bridge into the water. The guy was so immersed into the character, you really had to grab him by the back of his belt and go, ‘Hey, man! You got to let the stunt guy do this one. It’s not appropriate. It’s not safe.’ ”

According to the filmmaker, Costner eventually came back to reality.

The streets of Paris also served as a character in the film. The ancient cobblestone streets were built for “horses and buggies,” he jokes, so speeding cars down the narrow streets didn’t exactly come easy.  However, he used it to his advantage and went for a John Frankenheimer-esque style (Ronin, The French Connection 2) using in-camera techniques over CG.  While not a fan of CG, he still uses it to enhance an action sequence, but his main goal is to shoot it in a very authentic way. He avoids “descending into the world of fantasy,” he says and prefers the “crunching of metal.”  New technology such as smaller camera bodies allowed him to be more aggressive with his shots especially in the action sequence, which in turn makes the scene more compelling on screen.

And that’s how we like it – old school action.  3 DAYS TO KILL is now playing in movie theaters.

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