British actor Jason Statham made the transition from the UK to Hollywood and subsequently achieved global prominence. However, he differs significantly from the other British men in a few crucial respects.
For starters, his training field was the grimy streets of London rather than the West End stage. Statham frequently plays the edgy anti-hero rather than a smooth-talking lady killer. An English-accented Dirty Harry with considerably more attitude.
His early life reads like a warped Billy Elliot movie script, with a young working-class hero who aspires to high-diving fame and makes a living by hawking black-market products on the streets of London.
During his decade-long stint as a diving sensation for Great Britain, Statham also dabbled in the wide-boy lifestyle. Later on, he finally left the pool due to old age, but Ritchie may have prevented him from spending the rest of his days in jail.
After fifteen years, Statham is succeeding both personally and professionally. Along with Homefront, Statham has several other films in the works, such as Heat and The Expendables 3. We met him while he was filming Fast & Furious 7 with Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson in Atlanta, Georgia, early one morning in October.
Jason Statham’s Hollywood journey and his role in Fast and Furious 7
Jason Statham’s acting career started without any acting training at all; however, despite the lack of training, he still performed admirably despite the film’s veteran performers. Guy Ritchie, a young (and soon-to-be-famous) director, was the one who took Statham out of the streets and cast him in the center of the 1998 British cult crime comedy Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.
He revealed that he took to playing the role as a commitment to do his job well even though he has no prior acting training and no experience attending theater school. When asked if he was just winging in the beginning, he said, “I’m still winging it now to a certain degree [laughs]. I’m not the sort of actor who’s spent hours in drama school or with an acting teacher or anything like that.”
He continued, “I sort of just throw myself in at the deep end with a certain amount of commitment to the part, and hopefully, you have a really smart director who can give you something to do. Guy Ritchie years ago, when I did Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels – he was the one who encouraged me not to go to drama school.”
“I had no experience as an actor in any shape or form,” he added. Statham then shared what Ritchie told him years ago regarding not going to drama school, “But he said, ‘Look, there are two types of actors: the ones that have a technique and they hone that technique, and then there are others that are more of an instinctual sort of actor. And I think you’d be better off just going for that instinctual place and not try to clone yourself into doing what everyone else is doing.’”
Two years later, Statham was working with Ritchie once more. He co-starred with Brad Pitt and Benicio del Toro in the black comic caper Snatch. His early successes, together with his convincing, resolute bad guy performances, served as a launchpad for a career that has already produced more than 30 films, more than US$1 billion in box office receipts, and a bevy of highly memorable characters.
Along the way, Statham’s roles began to soften. From richer and more complex roles, such as that of petty criminal Terry Leather in The Bank Job, identity thief Joey Jones in Redemption, then to his upcoming role as dangerous husband and father Phil Broker in Homefront, starring James Franco, Winona Ryder, and Kate Bosworth.
Then, in Fast & Furious 7, Jason Statham explains the situation. He shared that there will undoubtedly be a large-scale production and a lot going on, including enormous stunts, which people should anticipate.
“There are great things happening. But the good thing is that we have a terrific director, James Wan. He’s so enthusiastic, so excited to be making a big action film,” he said.
He went on to say that the video inspired him because of how incredible his coworkers are and how hard they try to improve every day. He says, “And we’ve got Tony Jaa – who I’m a huge fan of – he’s a very gifted martial artist and action-movie hero – and Djimon Hounsou.”
He added, “There are some really good people. It’s everything you can expect from this franchise. They’re always pushing the boundaries, and they want to do something better each time.”
How did Jason Statham cope with the comprehensive transition of different roles?
Jason Statham portrays a role from The Transporter to The Italian Job and now in Fast & Furious that has something to do a lot with cars. Indeed the switching between characters in various movies is quite hard to cope with for some actors or actresses. However, Jason Statham was able to handle them just fine.
Statham likes to think he’s a car guy but is interested in cars. If there are opportunities to train his driving skills, he will grab them. He said, “I’ve always had an interest in cars and running around and learning driving skills from different opportunities that have come my way from making movies. I’ve had a chance to fool around and race on tracks.”
“And being in this business, you get the opportunity to get your hands on great machines. That tweaks your interest and sort of satiates that appetite,” he added.
Statham also revealed what he drives at home. At the moment, he is driving an Audi S8, and he was particular about the comfort and speed of the car. Owning different cars is also Statham’s thing. He confirmed that he had many.
“I’ve had many different cars. At the moment, I’m driving an Audi S8. You know, comfort and speed. It’s difficult to have something that rocks around at 200 miles an hour because, basically, living in LA, you can’t do that. If you want to go fast, you have to save it for the track because otherwise, you get into all kinds of mischief,” he explained.
However, “incidents” in vehicles are inevitable, which Statham has experienced over the years. In the shooting of ‘The Expendables 3,’ there is another incident that happened in Bulgaria, but he chose not to disclose any information about the matter.
He was asked the question about the incident, to which he replied, “Yes, there was an incident there. I haven’t spoken about it yet. I’ve been asked not to speak about it right now. I’m saving the story. If I tell you the story, it’s going to take up your whole interview.”
Several physical and driving stunts in Jason Statham’s character portrayal
The physical stunts Jason Statham was asked to perform for his performances have always seemed risky. Everyone is aware that Fast and Furious contains numerous action scenes that call for the artists, along with Jason, to perform physical and driving stunts. Furthermore, Jason Statham said that he did 99 percent of the driving during the shooting of the Transporter series.
He also shared how the budget functions in a movie when stunts are required, “It seems the bigger the budget and the more expensive the movie, the more cautious they are about keeping you alive. There’s a lot of money at stake, so they’re very diplomatic about what they can really allow you to do.”
He continued, “I remember in the early days, when I was working for Luc Besson while I was doing the Transporter series, literally I did 99 percent of the driving. But it was a much smaller budget, and we had everything in our control.”
“Obviously, they’ve got very big, very elaborate sequences. But you have to try and get behind the wheel as much as you can. You have to try to push the studio, push everyone else to allow you to do what you can do,” Statham added.
After all the stunts required for his roles, he was asked whether Statham could still perform his dives from the highboard. He answered, “I don’t know…but I’d like to think it’s like riding a bike. It would be a few sessions before it would come back to me. But the orientation and that level of awareness are always inside you.”
He continued, “I did a lot of tumbling, a lot of gymnastics, so you build that sixth sense, that aerial sort of feeling like a cat always lands on its feet. You kind of know where the ground is. And that doesn’t go away.”
“It gives you a strong upper hand in terms of being confident in having certain skills and doing certain stunts because you have a great sense of balance, a great sense of confidence in that area. All those years of training that I thought would be lost into nothing have sort of come back in a certain way with what I do now when it comes to the stunts and fights,” he added.
Jason Statham in Homefront; another shift of role from his previous films
After Statham’s prior role, he had been handed the position of a dangerous husband and father in Homefront, in which he constantly played an anti-hero, edgy character, and petty criminal. For instance, in Crank, he played the hit man-turned-victim, Chev Chelios. In the Transporter series, he played the hired gun, Frank Martin. In The Italian Job, he played Handsome Rob. And in The Expendables series, he played the knife-wielding Lee Christmas.
However, it’s not really too far from his usual role, but he would be playing a father and husband figure, which is somehow new to him. He said, “It was a wonderful opportunity for me. Sylvester Stallone…I have respected and admired him for years and [he’s] become a good friend, and it was a very opportune moment where he presented me with a script that he had written.”
Acting in different roles can be tricky since one needs to visualize and adopt a distinct personality to depict a particular character accurately. However, it’s a different story when it comes to Jason Statham. He sees it as an opportunity to explore another role.
Statham discusses his upcoming part and how it will be an excellent opportunity for him. He started with, “It’s an adaptation of a Chuck Logan novel, and as you can imagine, it’s full of great action. But more importantly, it had a real heart to it – great characters all along the way.”
“I just really responded to the relationship with the girl who plays my daughter, and Stallone does such a good job at providing great dialogue and some really great situations that you can actually try and act, “he continued.
Then he added, “Sometimes the curse of these sorts of genre movies is they don’t have enough depth to them, whereas Sly turns that around on its head and gives you some great characters. Look at Rocky and the many things that he’s written. They just hit a chord with the audience. Hopefully, I’ve done justice to what he really imagined I could do. We’ll find out.”
Jason Statham on looking for roles with more depth and how much he’d changed as an actor
Although Jason Statham is continually looking for roles with more complexity, it is not his current focus. Unexpected open opportunities are the things that people don’t anticipate appearing in their lives so suddenly. On the other hand, Statham is in the same boat with the idea.
He says, “I’ve been looking for roles with more depth constantly. It’s not like I’m only trying to do that now. You can only eat from what’s on the table. You get presented with opportunities and you either sit on the sofa, or you go to work.”
“Not everything is exactly what you want it to be. But you have to push through and try to make something great that was not necessarily perfect to start with. We’re always trying to push to do something good, and the opportunity comes when it comes,” he continued.
Statham continued by saying that the choice of whether to embrace the opportunity being provided to you wholeheartedly or not is yours to decide. He said, “You’re always trying to work with better actors, better filmmakers, and each time you get presented with an opportunity, you decide whether you want to do it or not. We’re constantly trying to strive for something good and of quality.”
Since Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Statham gained a lot of experience in every role he played. Especially since he was more on anti-hero and villain roles, one must know that they are hard to portray but already doing a great job in it. Additionally, he didn’t get any training for his first role before in a film.
“I had a great experience with Guy Ritchie with Lock, Stock, and Snatch. They were an integral part of me getting started as an actor. Obviously, me working with Luc Besson and Corey Yuen on the Transporter series was a real turning point for me getting into a starring position,” he said.
Then he continued, “Roger Donaldson on The Bank Job. And Redemption with Steven Knight. They were all great. But I had a bit of fun doing the Crank movies too. It was balls-to-the-wall mayhem for five weeks in LA. Obviously, there’s an audience for that type of lunacy.”
Did Jason Statham consider acting before beginning his career?
Jason Statham also disclosed other side jobs he had before entering Hollywood; Statham used to go high diving for Great Britain and confirmed that it was his little hobby. However, whenever he wasn’t in training, he’d be down with selling perfume and fake jewelry on street corners. That is before Guy Ritchie discovered him.
Furthermore, his physique is probably the one that took the attention of Guy Ritchie, which is appropriate for the needed role. For instance, Statham talks about how successful he was as an athlete during that period. He started with, “I was high diving for Great Britain. I picked it up as a little hobby, and I ended up doing quite well and traveling the world and competing for the country.”
“But when I wasn’t training, I’d be down on the street corners selling fake jewelry for a living. So that was the combo, and that went on for years and years and years until I stopped messing around with the diving. I realized that I’d started too late, so it was sort of a dead-end job.”
But he had never considered being a coach, so he decided to pass on that idea and come up with another. He continued, “The market game and working on the streets was sort of fizzling out; a lot of the reasons for that I don’t really understand. So being in a position of being offered a job in a movie was just, you know, a right-place, right-time opportunity.”
Moreover, he also answered if he ever thinks of entering an acting career this is what he said, “Nah…I used to sell perfume and fake jewelry on street corners. That was the way I got a living. I used to sell from a milk crate outside Harrods with a suitcase of fake jewelry. Half a dozen shills in the crowd.”
“When the police came, we would close up the case and, as we said, we would be “on our toes.” That’s what I did ever since I left school. I worked in the markets, and I worked in the streets, hustling for money. Basically, that’s all I ever knew. So I had no pipe dream about being an actor because where is the opportunity for that with what I was doing?” he continued.
“Light years away from me being able to even meet a director or meet the producer that was going to put me in a film. I think you have to resign yourself to what’s really available to you, and working in Hollywood wasn’t.”
“So I just got on with what I was doing. I was making a living and putting decent money under the mattress, and I was quite happy. I didn’t have a frustration about not being able to be an actor.”
However, what would Jason Statham do now if he hadn’t met Guy Ritchie? Would he still be selling perfume and fake flowers on the street? Or continue doing his hobby and take into consideration being a coach? He answered, “Oh dear, oh dear [laughs]. I would have a very different life. It would be very different indeed. All the people I used to work with on the streets, the market trading. Not market trading like stocks and shares, nothing like that.”
He continued, “I’m talking about the open market where people on a Sunday go out and buy cheaper clothes or cheaper food. Basically, the ’80s and ’90s British high streets. All those people that I used to know so well that used to make a good living are now really struggling.”
“It’s basically a nonexistent way to make a living now. It’s really, really tough. Most of them are in a dark spot, not making any money anymore, so that would probably be me,” he added.
More about Jason Statham, his leisure time, and fashion sense
It’s hard to imagine what someone inclined to portray anti-heroes, edgy characters, and petty criminals would be doing behind the camera since people are used to seeing him as a villain in movies. However, who is Jason Statham away from the camera and acting?
Statham then answered, “I learned to surf recently. I love skiing, and I have a lot of friends that also like to ski. It’s a great social thing to go skiing and I really, really enjoy myself with good people. Doing an activity, I always find is more fun than just sitting around boozing, which I’ve done a lot of as well. Which is what I tend to do a lot when I go back home [to London] and see all my good old pals.”
He also revealed that he’s into fashion; besides his mother and grandmother, who is a dressmakers, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Statham’s current girlfriend, is a famous British model and aspiring actress who appreciates high fashion.
He says, “I’ve always liked clothes. My mum was a dressmaker, and my mum’s mum was a dressmaker, so when I was a kid they used to put me in the worst clothes ever. They used to make them rather than buy them. So at some point, I thought, “You know what? I’m going to get my own stuff going.”
Jason Statham revealed that he is a Savile Row type of guy. He disclosed where he buys his suits and that it was his favorite tailors. “Yeah. I buy my suits at Anderson & Sheppard, which are my favorite tailors. I get my shirts at Turnbull & Asser. And I get my shoes at George Cleverley. So all my fine-tailored or appreciated belongings come from London,” he said.
Does Jason seek to have his professional life develop more?
After all the left and right roles he managed to take over, despite his inexperience before entering Hollywood, would be the most outstanding achievement of a person. However, as someone like Jason Statham, does he still seek his professional life to have another level of development?
“I’m trying to imagine what the future holds, and it’s such an unpredictable place in the movie industry. People have flavors, and they go off certain actors, and they go off people all the time. You don’t know what your future holds in terms of public appreciation. All you can do is hope you make decent films and work with good people,” he said.
Then he continued, “The insurance and the safety net is to work with talented directors that know how to keep you safe. That’s why you see people like DiCaprio always running to work with Scorsese. Because you know that’s a good fucking bet. You know that he’s going to get the best out of you. He’s going to have the best writers, the best cinematographers, the best sound technicians. “
“It’s like playing with the ultimate football team. More than likely, you’re going to win the game. When you’re working with a team in the Premier League, you’re going to give the best of what you can, and they’re going to bring the best out of you,” he said last.