Next Three Days: Interview with star Russell Crowe and director Paul Haggis

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Russell Crowe stars in "The Next Three Days," written and directed by Paul Haggis. The film, which also stars Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson, is being released by Lionsgate on November 19.

A large, notable cast

 

“That’s been a fun thing for me,” observes Crowe, “that every week or so somebody new comes along and I get to do a scene with somebody who I respect and whose work I enjoy.  (Those) days on the set were particularly fun.”

 

Says Haggis, “It was an honor to have so many wonderful actors – Liam Neeson, RZA, Daniel Stern and many others – give their time and talent in these small, but critical roles.  They made the film that much stronger.”

 

Brian Dennehy as George Brennan

 

Haggis approached Tony-Award winner Brian Dennehy for the role of George Brennan, John’s father.  Over the years, Haggis and Dennehy had become friends through the New York theatre scene.  As George, Dennehy is a largely silent, but very powerful presence.  "Brian can portray so much with so little,” Haggis enthuses.  “You know exactly what he's thinking and exactly what he thinks of his son.  His is such a masterful actor.  He thinks the thought and it is suddenly etched on his face, and he hasn't moved, hasn't even narrowed his pupils."

 

8-year-old Ty Simpkins

 

The third actor who makes up the immediate family unit in THE NEXT THREE DAYS is eight-year-old Ty Simpkins, who plays Luke, John and Lara's son. "He's an incredibly skilled actor for such a young boy,” Haggis remarks.  “Ty and Russell had such wonderful chemistry.  It was obvious to everyone on set that Russell, who has two young sons of his own, is a natural when it comes to parenting and is very comfortable playing that role in a movie." 

 

Shooting in Pittsburgh

 

Haggis took the somewhat unusual step of scouting locations for THE NEXT THREE DAYS before he even began writing the script.  "I was looking for a working-class town which had evolved because I wanted John to come from a working-class background.  That was very important to me," Haggis explains.  He and Nozik made a trip to Pittsburgh, PA and as the filmmaker puts it, “we fell in love with it.  The skyline is great, and each neighborhood is proud and distinct and has held onto its roots and its characteristics.”

 

Says Crowe, “Pittsburgh is very much a character in the film, which is great.  The geography and the cityscape and the bridges and tunnels and the Allegheny County Jail are all heavily featured in the actual screenplay.”

 

The wrong place/wrong time scenario and tight internal logic of THE NEXT THREE DAYS make for a visceral cinematic experience, in Crowe’s view.  “This is one of those stories where a simple set of circumstances puts a family’s life together in complete peril,” the actor remarks.  “It’s very intense, and you wouldn’t want it to happen to you.  But it makes it really exciting for the people watching.”