'3 Days to Kill' Trailer: Director McG Explains Why Kevin Costner Needs to be Told 'No'

Remember when Kevin Costner was the biggest movie star in the world? Remember why? Our exclusive "3 Days to Kill" trailer premiere might just remind you.

Costner gets top-billing for the first time since 2008's "Swing Vote." But while that forgettable film may have been his last leading man effort, "3 Days a Kill" conjures up Costner's more thrilling past.

In the McG-directed, Luc Besson-penned thriller, Costner plays Ethan Runner, a spy trying to wind down his career and reconnect with his wife and teenage daughter, Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld). After promising to be done with the spy game, Runner agrees to watch Zooey while his wife is away on business. But when he is mysteriously sickened, a former colleague (Amber Heard) offers Runner a cure, if he agrees to do one more job. Runner's basically got "3 Days to Kill" an international terrorist or be killed by his illness, and he's still got to make sure Zooey finishes her homework.        

[Related: Kevin Costner Embraces His Dark Side in the '3 Days to Kill' Poster]

While it may have been a while since Costner carried a picture, some things never change — like the fact that Costner always wants to do his own stunts. "He’s a filmmaker’s filmmaker," McG ("Charlie's Angels, "Terminator: Salvation") told Yahoo Movies over the phone last week from Los Angeles. "He always wants to do it and take responsibility for every inch of the character’s performance."

That means a lot of extra work for the 58-year-old actor, since "his character goes through the ringer," as McG puts it. "He’s beat up, punched, shot at, his car crashes. He really gets beaten up and that’s part of the gristle that goes into this Ethan character." 

But that willingness to get his fingernails dirty could very easily have found Costner at the bottom of the Seine River. "He wanted to crash the car in the major crash sequence on a bridge in Paris where there was at least a 50 percent chance that the car was going to end up in the Seine. I said, 'Costner, I just don’t think it’s wise for you to A) Take that level of impact and B) Be held responsible for getting out of a sinking car in a raging winter river. I think that’s ill advised,'" said McG. "He finally sort of said, 'All right. You’re probably right.' We ended up doing it with a stunt guy who was ratcheted, ready to be extracted out for safety and everything you have, but Costner definitely wanted to do it on his own."

Action is only half the "3 Days to Kill" story. "You have a guy that’s been out in the field with a very, very strong sense of duty who has now come home to try to reconnect with his daughter, and it’s emotional," said McG. "It’s a very, very emotional thing. A film that begins with an action bang and ultimately brings you to tears I think is a rare thing. I’m hoping we’ve achieved that."

To help achieve that emotion, McG turned to Steinfeld, one of today's most sought-after young actresses. "She just makes everything natural. She can take the most written material and make you feel like it’s unwritten and just coming off the hip, which is a gift for an actor to be able to do that," said McG.

McG also had the pleasure of working with Amber Heard, who plays the Machiavellian spy runner Vivi. "She’s a cheeky fun character. I think that she’s had the life experience to live that," said McG. "She’s got a whip smart sense of humor and she’s living an exciting life. I wanted someone who could extrapolate from real life experiences and put that into a character on the screen."

[Related: Kevin Costner and Chris Pine Talk ‘Jack Ryan’]

Thinking specifically of landing a boyfriend like Johnny Depp, we wondered what makes Heard's life so exciting. "She’s a girl from Texas. She’s an accomplished marksman. She’s been around the world many times. She has had many adventures on a personal level that I’ll let her comment on, but I mean, you add that all up, a colorful life makes for an experienced great performer. I think that you need to have life experience to be able to draw upon that to be a great actor and she’s lived a very, very interesting uninhibited life."

You had us at uninhibited. Actually, you had us when you cast Costner in the lead. Needless to say, our interest in "3 Days to Kill" is piqued. We'll see when it hits theaters early next year.  

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