In "3 Days to Kill," Amber Heard plays Vivi, an enigmatic, high-ranking CIA officer who brings retired assassin Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) back for one more job with an offer that Renner finds too good to pass up -- even though he has returned to Paris to make amends with his estranged wife and daughter after learning he has just months to live. As a result, Renner is immune to Vivi's considerable charms, even though she quite enjoys playing both the temptress and the ruthless boss while rocking the flashy wigs and tight leather outfits.
Vivi is the latest in a wide-ranging collection of characters that the equally enigmatic Heard has portrayed in both movies and TV, ever since making her big screen debut in the 2004 film "Friday Night Lights." Her other movies include the near-legendary "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" -- a horror film shot in 2006 that finally came out last year -- "Alpha Dog," "Pineapple Express," "Never Back Down," "Zombieland," and "The Rum Diary," on which she met fiancé Johnny Depp.
The couple will appear in the upcoming thriller "London Fields" (although Depp's role is a cameo) along with Billy Bob Thornton and Jim Sturgess, but Moviefone sat down with Heard to talk about what attracted her to Vivi, how she tries to be selective about her roles, and firing guns while driving at high speeds through the streets of Paris.
Moviefone: What attracted you to this woman? We don't really know much about her, so what grabbed you about the role?
Amber Heard: Well, that's what I liked about her. I liked the liberty and freedom that is awarded to a character that isn't bound by the physical or social laws that the rest of us are or that the rest of the characters in the story are. She exists in her own world -- a world that she has made for herself. You get the idea that she's found and created a kind of a niche role for herself within the underworld of this organization. And you get the idea that she's the only one for this sort of work. She's truly cut out for it. Why she holds rank over somebody much older than her like Ethan, you know, Kevin Costner's character, is because you get the idea that it truly takes a certain special kind of person to be really good at her job.
I think she even says it to him at one moment in the script. She hits someone in the head and doesn't blink an eye and, you know, he's kind of panicking and stumbling over his words and he's like, "What's wrong with you? How could you do this?" Vivi's response to him is, "Well, you never made it to the top." It's part of their power dynamics that she pulls rank over him. And I like that it, you know, Vivi attracted me because she was enigmatic, strong, didn't apologize nor was she defined by her sexuality. She is a bad-ass. You don't f**k with her.
A strong female character is something you don't see a whole lot of in this town. You don't make a ton of movies -- is that the reason why? Do you want to be very selective about the stuff you're doing?
I try to be as selective as I can. It's hard to balance that selective approach to my job with the reality of the nature of the industry which is that there isn't a dearth of material out there by any means from which I could be selective. Being selective is a moot point when there's absolutely no options or selection out there. So it's a fine line that one has to walk. Many times I have to wear the red lipstick and the blonde wig in order to still be able to work -- so I'm forced to find ways to imbue those characters with a sense of power, strength, freedom, something else that makes them compelling even if it means they're combative or vulnerable or somehow marginalized or weakened. Or maybe they're antagonistic. It doesn't matter in order to play a character. Sometimes I have to make a slight compromise in order to just be able to do that within the placeholder of bombshell.
Let's talk about working with Kevin. Somebody said your character's digital, his character's analog. But Kevin is also one of the last all-American iconic actors I think we have out there.
I've seen that. And it was wonderful to see such a character both in who he is as a real person and who he embodies in his characters because of that real personality. It's interesting to see that. It contrasted with the fast paced, digital, new age of this kind of Parisian modernity. It's really interesting. He's walking around the streets of Paris and you could not find a more obvious outsider. There's something really alienating and cool about that. But that's both because he actually is that in real life -- that all-American quintessential American guy -- and he also is that character in the movie.
I just read you're an accomplished marksman.
I don't know if I'm accomplished.
But you're comfortable around guns.
Yeah, I was raised in Texas.
So when you're on a movie set and you see actors trying to learn how to fire guns, do you want to show them how it's done or run away?
It depends on the gun. It depends on the nature of the scene. In this case, it was really funny, you know. I was leaning out of my car window shooting guns and getting in fistfights and then the backdrop is I look over my right shoulder and there's the Eiffel tower. It was an interesting setting to be in. It created a very interesting dichotomy. I mean I'm, you know, in a latex suit getting in a gunfight with a bunch of gangsters and trying to miss the Louvre wall behind me. It's really weird. It's weird.
I was curious about what you thought about "Mandy Lane" finally getting a release. I thought it was a really interesting film. Seven years later, how do you feel? Did you get a chance to look at it again?
I haven't seen it in a long time but, I mean, I'm super proud of that movie. I feel really lucky to have been a part of it, and I am very happy it finally got its day. I thought it would never come out...It's a very weird experience to do something so long ago and then finally see it come to fruition in the way it deserves.
Tell me a little bit about your next film, "London Fields."
"London Fields" is one of the most compelling and difficult characters and processes all together, you know -- the process of filming it. It was one of the most difficult and exhilarating and rewarding and compelling processes I've ever gone through. Matthew Cullen directed it. It's based off the novel by Martin Amis, and we're in the postproduction process right now. I think it's going to be an incredible movie.
"3 Days to Kill"hits theaters Friday, February 21.