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‘Gunman’ Director Says Sean Penn ‘Doesn’t Compromise’

Sean Penn Gunnman Premiere
David Livingston/Getty Images

Pierre Morel, director of “Taken” and new Sean Penn pic“The Gunman,” is still marveling at the experience of working with Penn, Javier Bardem and Idris Elba, months after shooting wrapped.

At Thursday night’s Los Angeles premiere of “Gunman,” held at L.A. Live’s Regal Cinemas, Morel discussed the experience of directing the three pros. “You don’t have to do much. The magic just happens,” Morel said with a laugh. “You feel useless sometimes.”

In the Open Road/Studiocanal release, Penn plays an ex-assassin on the run, with Elba appearing as an Interpol agent and Bardem playing Penn’s girlfriend-stealing ex-colleague. The murky allegiances among the three provide much of the film’s tension.

Morel thinks their chemistry springs from the differences in their training. “They all come from a different approach of acting,” Morel said. “Sean is American — method acting. Idris comes from England, which is a different school of acting. Javier comes from Spain, another different school of acting. Their approach to their characters is different, so it was interesting to see how things blend.”

The director also said that Penn, Elba and Bardem required a less aggressive style of direction. “You just have to give them directions on why and how, not ‘do this,’ ‘do that.’ They know.”

Though Morel stressed that the film was driven by its ensemble cast, he did note that working with Penn was a special experience. “He just gives you the best he can, whether it’s action or drama. He doesn’t compromise.”

“The Gunman” bows in theaters March 20.