Pierre Morel Talks Directing 'The Gunman' & Updates 'The Killer'

Sean Penn in The Gunman

Taken director Pierre Morel is carving out quite the niche for himself in giving veteran thespians' careers new opportunities with bad-ass action movie roles. His latest effort is the spy thriller The Gunman, starring Sean Penn, Idris Elba and Javier Bardem and much like the Liam Neeson career-changer before it, this film shows us that Sean Penn is very worthy of being an action star.

Screen Rant recently sat down with Morel to discuss what he learned from Taken that influenced The Gunman, what masculine actor magic occurs on set when you have Penn vs. Bardem and Penn vs Elba scenes, and when we might find out which actor he's turning into an action star with The Killer.

What kind of things did you learn, skills tools and tricks, from Taken that you were able to bring to The Gunman?

You learn everyday as a filmmaker, so I guess I just keep on learning on every set. The technicality of it all, which is something I've acquired in my previous career, I'm done with; I think I'm okay with the way I shoot things. Every director has his technique and every actor has his technique and each actor comes from a different school, so  you don't talk to actors and you don't direct them the same way  according to where they come from.

So having Mr. Penn in this who is wonderfully watchable and very cable as an action star, what does that give you with camera work and action sequences that you wouldn't normally have without someone like him?

He just delivers, fantastically, anything. Both physically, as you said, he did all his stunts himself, and in terms of emotion, what is interesting, it is an action movie but it is a smart action movie with complex characters and I like that.  It's not just a cookie cutter action hero, it's a multiple layered onion character, you peel off different issues and moral and physical issues and different skills, he delivers that.

Pierre Morel directing From Paris with Love
John Travolta and Pierre Morel filming 'From Paris With Love'

What is it like for you on set in watching actors like Mr. Bardem and Mr. Penn in scenes together and the same with Mr. Elba and Mr. Penn, because they have so much weight in the best way.

Yeah you just sit and watch. 'Wow the magic is happening. It is of course very interesting to see actors who once again come from a different approach of acting, different schools. Sean is method in essence, Javier comes from a different place and Idris a different place and when you see them work together and you give specific directions to each of them, you see the magic coming up and the interaction between guys of that level is absolutely fantastic.

Are there more chapters to be told in The Gunman?

I don't know, why wouldn't there be? Maybe. I never think of a movie with a sequel in mind  you cannot because you never know what's going to happen, you try to do a good movie and if it worked and they want to do a sequel and if the story is right then why not?

Sean Penn in The Gunman (Most Anticipated Movie of 2015)
Sean Penn in 'The Gunman'

I'm so happy that you've maybe not intentionally carved out a niche, but given veteran actors we know as thespians and you've given them the bad-ass action roles, I'm grateful tor those and I'm hoping your next film, The Killer might be another one. Do you have an actor in mind?

Not at all, it's way too early in the process.

An actress?

Not for The Killer but we have a draft of [something] that I would love a female lead, yes, I would love that.

For an action movie?

Yes. I won't tell you anymore [laughs].


The Gunman opens in theaters March 20, 2015.

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