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THE NEXT THREE DAYS

About The Production
What would you do if the person you loved was suddenly arrested and taken from you, maybe forever? What if your only chance to pull your family's life back from the brink was for you to try to pull off a potentially deadly crime with all-but-impossible odds of success? And if you did manage to succeed – then what?

These questions become heart-poundingly real in screenwriter/director Paul Haggis's taut suspense thriller THE NEXT THREE DAYS. Haggis and his star, Russell Crowe, give audiences a thriller with the kind of hero not often seen in modern iterations of the genre: a keenly intelligent, methodical, but otherwise unremarkable man, whose actions are driven by desperation, determination and, above all, love.

Haggis is well-known and admired for his psychologically rich, morally probing dramas: as the writer/director of CRASH, which won him Academy Awards® for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH; and as the screenwriter of MILLION DOLLAR BABY, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA and FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. But Haggis is no stranger to the thriller genre, having been a screenwriter on the critical and popular James Bond film CASINO ROYALE. Thrillers were firmly on the development agenda when Haggis and producer Michael Nozik (SYRIANA, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES) formed their production company, Hwy 61, in 2008. Both partners were intrigued when the company's head of development, Eugenie Grandval, showed them a copy of the French thriller POUR ELLE.

The partners felt the central premise could make a really compelling American film. "I've always wanted to make a thriller, especially one where a love story played such a central role," Haggis comments. "Here was Hitchcock's classic scenario, a perfectly ordinary man who, in this case, thrusts himself into extraordinary circumstances. He can't watch his wife and son suffer so much as they drift apart from each other. But when he finds out what it takes to break her out, he has to ask himself a very difficult question: would you save the woman you love if you knew that by doing so, you would turn into someone that she might no longer be able to love?" That's what always draws me to a subject -- a question I cannot answer for myself. When I find the question, I know I have a film. But the film is also about the nature and power of trust -- what it means when you trust someone no matter what, when no one else does, when all the evidence is against them -- when they can no longer even trust themselves."

Nozik felt the resulting film would be enticing to viewers like himself. "As an audience member, I've always been compelled by strong characters, great story and a suspenseful plot that makes me wonder what's going to happen next. It's rare that I find that as a moviegoer, and certainly rare as a producer,” says Nozik. "This was a perfect piece for Paul, who can create fully realized, dramatic characters within the structure of an exciting, commercial thriller.”

Haggis and Nozik took the project to Lionsgate, which had partnered with Haggis on CRASH. Lionsgate acquired the rights to POUR ELLE from production companies Wild Bunch and Fidélité Films, and Fidélité's Marc Missonnier and Olivier Delbosc also joined the project.

Haggis set to work on re-imagining the film. His protagonist John Brennan is a professor of English at a Pittsburgh community college, a loving husband and devoted father. But very quickly John is thrown into a living nightmare when his wife, Lara, is accused of a murder she says she didn't commit. The next time we meet the family, three years have passed. Lara has been convicted of murder and is incarcerated. Appeals have been pursued, and denied. Luke has grown increasingly distant from his mother and John fears Lara will take her own life. Fueled by an unfaltering conviction in his wife's innocence, John believes he is left with no other option if he wants to save his wife and family. Although he is ill-equipped to take the law into his own hands and orchestrate a prison break, he makes the complex decision to commit a crime he knows he has little chance of accomplishing. And from the moment authorities realize that Lara Brennan has escaped, the clock will be ticking.br />

The way John goes about this task – searching the Internet, reading books, interviewing an ex-con-turned author – is a function of who he is as a person. Says Nozik, "John's never been a criminal, but he is an academic and he knows how to research. And that drives him through the process of figuring out how to break his wife out of jail, and somehow put a life together after that with his son and wife. He's doesn't have a lot of money, so he's faced with a lot of decisions throughout the film about how to manage this scheme.”

Even as he was writing the screenplay, Haggis had his sights set on Academy Award® winner Russell Crowe for the role of John Brennan. He points to the actor's seamless performances in films as diverse as GLADIATOR, A BEAUTIFUL MIND, MASTER AND COMMANDER and THE INSIDER. "Russell is one of the finest actors of our time,” Haggis states simply. "He's right for almost any project but he was certainly right for this one because so much of the intent of the film has to be communicated without words. A turn of a head or the flick of an eye has to tell us so much, what John Brennan is thinking, what he's decided, where he is going next. Russell is the type of actor who cracks open his chest and lets you stare right into his heart -- deep, into the dark corners of his soul."br />

Once Crowe had read the script, he met with Haggis in London. "It all happened very quickly. CRASH was a great movie, and of course an excellent calling card,” the actor says. Having made his share of thrillers, Crowe also admired the tight construction of Haggis's script, the events and sequencing that built tension and created daunting yet realistic obstacles for the characters. "I loved the suspense of it. If you're going to take on a thriller like this, you have to have a mind and eye for a complex narrative. It's clear from Paul's work, that this complexity is one of his specialties. So I knew we could make a great film."

Crowe was equally drawn in by the film's emotional themes and progressions. "I was really struck by the conundrum John Brennan faces. This man has an undying love for his wife and would do anything to save her. Yet to achieve what he has to achieve, he must turn into somebody she may not love. To me, that was an interesting journey to go on."br />

Casting the pivotal role of Lara Brennan was tricky. Lara may be a beloved wife and mother, but it's an open question as to whether this quick-tempered woman did, in fact, kill her boss. The filmmakers found the combination of qualities they were looking for in Elizabeth Banks, whose diverse credits include W., SPIDER-MAN and "30 Rock.” Says Haggis, "Elizabeth is a terrific actress. She has a quality of being the girl next door, and yet, she has a great fire within her.”

Crowe and his co-star established an easy onscreen rapport, creating a portrait of a marriage that feels lived-in and relatable. Says Crowe, "The beginning of the movie establishes John and Lara as leading this normal, relatively placid life with their young child. In a finite number of scenes, Elizabeth made it feel absolutely real.”

Banks notes that her character, a successful corporate professional, is not unlike many contemporary women. "Lara's ambitious, and she's balancing work and motherhood and trying to maintain this really great relationship with the love of her life. When she gets torn aw

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