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Originally published Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 6:17 AM

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Kevin Costner at ease on his back porch and in action

Kevin Costner, 59, talks about his quiet family life in Aspen, Colo., his business ventures, and starring as a C.I.A. contract killer and flustered dad of a teenage daughter in the action film “3 Days to Kill,” which opens Feb. 21.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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These past few years, it’s been pretty hard to get Kevin Costner off his back porch. It’s in Aspen, Colo., so we kind of understand. He’s been raising three children under the age of 10, with his second wife, Christine.

“Half my life is driving kids to practice,” he jokes.

There were the business ventures — one of them Ocean Therapy Solutions, an oil spill cleaning system, became famous thanks to the BP oil spill. Another, ArmStar, is a nonlethal weapon he’s selling to the Pentagon that could allow the military and police to pacify violent situations without killing anybody.

“A lotta fascinating (stuff) happens on my back porch,” Costner, 59, says with a laugh. “And I’ve never been a guy who makes movies back to back to back. I love movies, love acting, love directing. Hell, I even love rehearsing. But I have a more full life than that.”

But 2012’s hit cable TV miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” reminded us he’s out there. He gave heart to the special effects-burdened “Man of Steel,” and grizzled gravitas to Chris Pine and “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.”

April has the sports movie veteran in another sports movie — “Draft Day.” There’s “McFarland” and a film with his “Upside of Anger” director, Mike Binder — “Black and White.”

“I financed it, and it deals with racism,” he says. “You don’t do it just for the money, because God knows you don’t put your own money up for movies about racism.”

But first, there’s this action film from the writer-producer of “The Transporter” movies, “3 Days to Kill,” which opens Feb. 21. Costner plays C.I.A. contract killer Ethan Renner, a “cleaner,” who learns he’s dying of cancer. His new control agent (Amber Heard) bribes him with a serum that might prolong his life, providing he carry out one last series of hits, in Paris, where his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and the teen daughter he barely knows (Hailee Steinfeld) live.

“I like Ethan’s directness — in his job, and how discombobulated he becomes trying to deal with the women in his life,” Costner says. “We played those scenes fun, because he’s struggling.”

He likes, he says, the fact that this character hasn’t a clue about women — especially teenage ones.

“Welcome to the human race,” Costner laughs. “If you know a lot about women, please write that book. ... ”

Costner shows every wrinkle, every gray hair in “3 Days.” He may be “a national treasure,” as his director, McG, declares. But he’s not shy about showing his age, in character and out of it.

Costner wanted to play a man “wed to his job,” who has paid the price for that. He wanted to play a dying man who does what guys sometimes do in that situation — “He wants to earn a lot of money, doing these last few jobs, so he can leave his family something. If he can’t leave them memories, he’ll leave them money.”

But don’t write off “3 Days” as a morose thriller. No, it’s got laughs. Ethan Renner is so out of his depth with his daughter that he interrupts “enhanced interrogations” to question family men from the terrorist underworld for child-rearing advice.

“I try to get my hammer without winking,” Costner says. “I try to get the laugh with my physical movement, in those scenes with (the terrorists). By making it quiet, you make it work. And asking parenting questions of those guys? It’s already funny.”

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