In 3 DAYS TO KILL, the second of five of his films releasing in 2014, Kevin Costner is at the top of his game. He may worry about the body getting older, a little stiffer, but his acting is pure, rich. He is the master of deadpan self-deprecation of retort that zings you every time thanks to a look, a glance, a hanging of the head. On the whole, his performance both in the recent Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and now 3 DAYS TO KILL bodes a maturity and comfort that still carries the glint of boyish exuberance we saw in Bull Durham or Swing Vote, while capturing the deliberateness and purpose of life that he brought to Dances With Wolves, Open Range or Mr. Brooks.
One of the key aspects of Costner’s CIA operative Ethan Renner in 3 DAYS TO KILL is the physicality of the role. As dynamic as the car chases are, equally riveting are the man-on-man showdowns between Costner and his adversaries. Although 59 years young, Costner is the first one to admit that the body is a little slower, a little achier.
Shooting in Paris, one surprising factor that affected Costner’s physicality was the weather. “Well, you’re cold. And anytime you’re cold things are harder. [chuckling].”
Known throughout his career not only for executing his own stunts and athletic endeavors, but doing so flawlessly (Remember for Love of the Game when he was pitching 88 mph?), at this stage of his career, is there a time when enough is enough and he steps aside from the action?
“I’ve been involved in my stunt career and it used to be that my stunt guy, we would talk about it and about when it was time for him to take over. The way you know you’re getting older, with my stunt guy, we’d look at the thing and he goes, ‘You could make it.’ I could tell he starts getting scared! ‘You could make that.’ I said, ‘I can’t!’ It was an evolving thing. Fortunately I didn’t have that over there [in Paris] because I had a new stunt guy, new stunt coordinator.”
For Costner, now it’s all about “measuring things.” “Listen, I wanted to ride with the buffalo. I wanted to do those things. Whenever you can put the audience in the car, on the horse, carrying your daughter – they’re now in the movie. Stunts have always had their place. I have to measure ‘em right now. I’ve done things that if I make a mistake you could die. You really need to look at something like that. Usually it’s a mechanical failure. I wouldn’t jump this [indicating the hollow square 3 feet wide between tables at the press day] right there to there if you could really die [going] straight down because weird things happen. I have gone from doing everything to listening; to say, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t do this.’”