Today: April 19, 2024

Director Paul Haggis

By Katie Ollerenshaw. The Next Three Days is out on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 16th May. FilmJuice caught up with director Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash).

By Katie Ollerenshaw

The Next Three Days is out on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 16th May. FilmJuice caught up with director Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash).

The
Next Three Days is classified as a thriller. And audiences are familiar with your morally probing
dramas. So how is this film different
from your past projects? And how
does it compare?

Well
the film is different from the last projects, because it’s more exciting. It’s a thriller. I think that any project I approach,
whether it’s “Million Dollar Baby,” or “Crash,” or “Casino Royale,” I look at
the stakes for the individual. I
look at the drama within. We need
to care about these characters. Whether
they’re going through some personal crisis, or whether they’re trying to break
their wife out of prison. We need
to care, and that’s what I like to do.

So
what influenced you to write, direct, and produce a thriller?

I
always wanted to do a thriller. I
grew up on Hitchcock films and they were hugely influential. And then in the seventies, there were
great films like “Three Days of the Condor”, which I just loved. And so when I got the chance – and when
I was asked to think about this project – I jumped at it. I thought it would be a lot of fun.

When
you were casting, did you have an idea who you wanted to play the role of John
Brennan?

When
I write a script, I try never to think of the actors. Because I think it’s a huge mistake to do so. Because all you do is then end up
writing for what that actor has done before. So I wrote the script, and then thought, “Who would I like
to play John Brennan?” And Russell
Crowe was at the top of that list.
He is such a chameleon. He
can play an action hero. Or he can
play someone from “A Beautiful Mind,” or “The Insider,” who is such a deeply
conflicted human being.

And so I wanted
someone who we could really truly believe is an everyman. Someone we can look at and go “poor
sap, he’ll never be able to pull this off.” And I knew he could do that. And you watch this film, and in the first five minutes, you
feel very sorry for him. And you
go, “Oh, this guy, he’s overwhelmed, he’ll never be able to do this.” And that’s what I wanted.

So
Lara Brennan is a complex character, as the audience throughout the film is
constantly questioning whether she’s innocent, or not. What qualities do you feel Elizabeth
Banks possesses, to have taken on this role?

Elizabeth
came in to read for this role, and just stole it. She brought humanity to this character. That I really wanted. We were all delighted by her
reading. And so there was really
no question that she’d play Lara Brennan.

And
can you talk about some of the actors that surround Russell and Elizabeth in
supporting roles?

We
were really fortunate enough to have a terrific supporting cast. Starting with Liam Neeson, who was in
the middle of shooting another project, there was no way he wasn’t going to do
this. I called him, and he said,
“How long will it take?” And I
said, “I can shoot you all in one day, it’s just one big scene.” And he said, “Oh, okay.” So he flew in from Vancouver, for one
day, to do this. But played an incredibly
pivotal role, I wanted someone who had great moral authority. Someone who John Brennan could go to,
and we immediately believe that this man knows what he is talking about. So I needed an actor like Liam. No, I needed Liam.

And then have
Olivia Wilde, who’s fabulous, who I’ve worked with since “The Black
Donnellys.” Who’s now blown
up, she’s a fabulous actress. And
again, I asked her to do a supporting role. And she said, “Yes.”
We have a lot of other terrific people like that. We have Brian Dennehy, who is one of
our great actors. I think he has
three lines in this. But he has
such a huge presence, all the way through – a huge silent presence. And he plays this very strong, silent
character, who judges his son. And
you needed someone like Brian, to really, truly, embody a character that was of
a totally different generation. A
man’s man, someone you could look at and say, “That guy could break his wife
out of prison, his son?
Never.” We had a lot of
wonderful people come in to this.

Many
of the actions that John Brennan takes throughout the film are what most would
consider wrong, and a lot of them are illegal. But he is still perceived as the good guy, what do you feel
makes him the hero in this film?

When
you’re trying to make a film about someone who’s going against the system, you
just really need to stack the odds up against them. And make you empathise for that character. In this case, this is a man who
believes that his wife is innocent, despite all the evidence. The evidence is overwhelming, that she
did this. And in fact, the
audience probably believes that she did.
And she might have. But he
believes in her, no matter what.

And I wanted to
talk about the nature of trust.
The nature of belief, that faith that you have, to have to do something
like this. And I also wanted to
talk about what you would do for someone that you loved. Would you transform yourself, into
someone who she won’t be able to recognise anymore, in order to pull this
off? Would you save the woman you
loved, if you knew by doing so, you could quite possibly turn into someone she
could no longer love? I think those
are good questions.

And
whether Lara is innocent or not, really isn’t the point of this film. What do you feel is the most important
message?

I
don’t know if there is a message in any of my stuff. I think there are questions. And hopefully, the audience will understand them, without
being hit over the head. I think
there are some questions about who we are, and what we will do.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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