Three Days in Havana is a terrific crime thriller set in exotic Havana, where a Canadian businessman finds himself in life threatening danger.
Gil Bellows (Parkland, Vegas, Ally McBeal, and The Shawshank Redemption) befriends a drugged out British expat (Greg Wise) who has a knack for drawing trouble.
Together they attempt to navigate the dangerous backstreets of the sunny capital of Cuba, but find it’s a deadly path. Bellows produced, co-wrote, co-directed and stars in this riveting piece.
We spoke with Bellows in Toronto.
M&C: What inspired this story? Enough to produce co-write co-direct and star in it?
Bellows: I’d had a great experience working with Terry Miles on a little indie and at the same time I’d just finished producing Temple Grandin which was a success and Temple took ten years to get made and A Night for Dying Tigers and terry write it and made ti.
I said I was to have an experience that’s more similar in experience to Terry’s in taking an idea putting it down in script form and gathering collaborators.
M&C: But why this one?
Bellows: I love dark comic thrillers, I like I wanted to explore what it was like to shoot in a place that was foreign to most people and be in it and I wanted to work with my friends, some of the best and most talented people I know but aren’t as recognizable.
M&C: He’s a mysterious character. He is not behaving truthfully. Is that a tough acting challenge?
Bellows: It’s not tough because in a way he is acting the truth that the audience understands.
M&C: We see you in such a different light, rarely if ever smiling frightened, on high alert. Did you enjoy that?
Bellows: One of the filmmakers I really like is Antonioni and his film The Passenger. It’s set in Morocco and you’re having all these things happen to these people in Morocco and it’s like he’s on a different planet. I wanted the character Jack to seem like he was too.
M&C: There is a prominent Emma Thompson connection with her husband Greg Wise and mother Phyllida Law!
Bellows: Greg and I have been friends 20 years he did a miniseries with my wife Rya Kihlstedt called The Buccaneers and we met there and became friends and we’ve wanted to work together. He jumped on right away and I persuaded him to persuade Phyllida.
M&C: You’ve given Wise the gift of a character he doesn’t normally play, a drugged out thug.
Bellows: He is super talented. I like to book people who are capable of many things. I feel Greg had things bounced to him that were the same. He could have played James Bond.
He is easily one of the coolest people I know and he’s such a great guy and actor and it was wonderful to showcase what he can do. It was an opportunity for me to use strengths in people I know weren’t necessarily what people had seen.
M&C: And Phyllida Law is all new and frightening, too! The film’s pretty tight and moves well. I guess you picked up a thing or two along the way.
Bellows: There are a lot of things I’m happy about in this film. One of the most gratifying experiences as a filmmaker is to present it to an audience and not cringe while they’re watching.
So I am happy but I will say that you learn a tremendous amount in the doing and the making of a film.
M&C: What’s next?
Bellows: I have two I’m working on at the same time. One is a crime movie set in Vancouver the same way people like Matthew Vaughn and Guy Ritchie set their films in London, to use Vancouver as a character in the story.
It’s called Both Sides of the Gun and it’s an international crime piece set around revenge and an event that took place fifteen years before.
My goal is to fill it with many of the actors you’ve seen in this movie and spectacular stars from all over the world. My hope is that we would be making it no later than this time next year.
M&C: What’s the other film?
Bellows: It’s called Face Value. I love the beautiful versions of James L. Brooks’ or Cameron Crowe’s films that can make you laugh and cry, like Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, Jerry Maguire. Those films are missing in the marketplace today. Face Value is a rock and roll love story about regret.