Paul Haggis has won two Academy Awards, made movies about boxing, war and race relations and has come to be regarded as a go-to guy for projects with serious themes.
Indeed, “Crash,” which Haggis wrote and directed, and “Million Dollar Baby,” “Flags of our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” which he wrote, are all sincere, important movies.
But that doesn’t mean the 57-year-old Canadian can’t have some fun, too.
Tomorrow sees the release of Pittsburgh-set “The Next Three Days,” a Hitchcockian thriller written and directed by Haggis, about a college professor (Russell Crowe) plotting to break his wife (Elizabeth Banks) out of jail.
amNewYork spoke with the filmmaker about the movie, a remake of the French film “Pour Elle.”
What inspired you to make “The Next Three Days”?
I’ve always wanted to do a thriller … [but this is] more of a prison break movie, which is classically more of a long build toward a hopefully very exciting act three.
Did you have any qualms about doing a remake?
I figured since [Martin] Scorsese did it [with “The Departed”] a couple years ago, there’s no shame in doing a remake.
Did bringing a realistic touch to the film require any research?
They allowed me into the [Allegheny County] jail. They showed me how people had attempted to break out of jail. … It’s specifically written for those locations and actually how you would do it.
After winning two Oscars, did your definition of a successful project change?
Whether you’ve won Academy Awards or not, it’s the same thing — whether you can move the audience and challenge them.
Haggis on TV
Before shifting to the big screen, Paul Haggis
had an impressive career as a creator and writer for television:
• Wrote for “The Facts of Life,” “L.A. Law,” “EZ Streets,” “thirtysomething”
• Created “Due South” and “EZ Streets”
• Co-created the immortal “Walker, Texas Ranger”