At Den of Geek, we have spoken once or twice about our appreciation for action movie theater powerhouse that is Jason Statham. Simply put, we’re fans of his work.
When the opportunity to spend a little bit of time on the phone with Jason came up, we were obviously thrilled. I reasoned that the best way to start the conversation would be tell him everything I loved about Crank, but after completing my list of bullet switch it became apparent that this approach would leave no time to ask him any questions. I abandoned the Crank list, assuming that you’d all sooner read what the man himself has to say. Besides, he’d surely just assume I loved Crank.
With the release of the delightfully violent Homefront imminent, The Stath’s third starring role of the year, and with more coming from him in 2014 (including Expendables and Fast And Furious sequels), there was much to discuss. Here’s how it went…
Homefront is coming out in the UK. I’ve just seen the movie, I thought it was really, really good.
Oh, you saw the movie, yeah?
Yeah, I thought it was great.
Ok, great. That’s a relief.
Well, yeah. This could have been an awkward interview otherwise.
Believe me. I have had to speak about films that have not necessarily been as good a turnout as I wanted them to be. But it’s a great relief. I’m really happy with the movie. I’m really pleased with how it’s all turned out.
It was an interesting one because there were a lot more thriller elements to it than I was expecting, which was different from a lot of the other films of yours I’ve seen.
Yeah, it’s written by a very talented man, Sylvester Stallone.
He’s one of the great writers. I think people forget how many great films he’s written. You know, he wrote Cliffhanger, he wrote all of the Rockys, all of the Rambos, all of the Expendables films. It’s like a library of mega-success. He just comes with a stamp of quality. When you mention Stallone you know it’s going to be decent. Better than decent, you know?
All the characters in it have a great thing to do. Having a great script like that you get the attraction of people like James Franco and Winona Rider and Kate Bosworth, because there’s good parts for everybody, rather than there just being a couple of decent roles and the rest no good.
Having someone like Stallone, who can just give you a script, as a friend, that must be a great thing to have in the industry.
Yeah. I grew up on Stallone. It’s one of the biggest privileges you can get, for an actor where I’m at, to get a hand-delivered script for something he wrote for himself. This was something he was gonna do, and thank God, for me, that things changed for him. He got a little distracted, otherwise this wouldn’t be around.
He did a couple of other things and this one stayed on the shelf, so Sly was always talking about, I should do something that shows a little bit of a different side. He said ‘I’ve got a script, there’s a relationship with the daughter’ and he said ‘it’d be really good for you.’ Little did I know I’d end up doing it. It was a massive opportunity for me.
Absolutely. I actually wanted to ask you about the actress Isabella, who plays your daughter Maddie in the movie. She was really good in this.
I know. She came out of nowhere. She did an audition that just killed everybody. She did this really emotional scene where she talks about losing her mom. It was just a ten out of ten audition. Just, there was no consideration for anybody else. It was that good.
Then you have James Franco in there, who is not someone I’ve seen play a lot of action roles. But the role he’s playing, he’s a villain, but he’s kind of out of his depth. Do you think that’s what attracted him to that role?
You know what? You never know what he’s interested in. The guy does everything. He teaches at college, he’s a painter, he’ll do cameos on TV shows, he’ll do starring mega-blockbuster films. He’s so unpredictable in life and he’s so unpredictable on screen. I think that’s what makes him so interesting. He plays an un-stereotypical villain who has this unpredictable nature. He kills it. He does good.
There’s been a trend in action movies more recently for ensemble casts, like your Expendables in movies and the one you’ve recently joined, The Fast And The Furious. How does it differ for you from movies like Parker or Hummingbird, where you’re the lone central role?
I mean, it’s a walk in the park in terms of what kind of pressure you have, because you’re in something that’s already a juggernaut of success. It’s great, you can turn up, fart around and it’s no pressure.
But, at the same time, you lose an element. I’m making Fast And The Furious at the moment [this interview took place before the tragic death of Paul Walker] and there’s a lot of people and a lot of mouths to feed, and things move slowly because there’s a big budget. When you compare that to something like Hummingbird, you know, you do eight, nine weeks in the heart of London. You’re working with a small crew. It’s great. For me it’s the best kind of work, I love it.
But, at the end of the day, the insurance of working with a big, already successful franchise just gives you the chance to do other things, on a more personal level. You know, we just acquired the rights to JJ Connolly’s new book, Viva La Madness. So, without doing the big blockbusters I wouldn’t be able to find the money to go after little projects that I want to do.
Actually, I’ve read about this. This is part of your new production company that you’ve started.
Yeah. Instead of sitting around waiting for decent stuff to come your way, sometimes you have to go after it. That’s the situation we’re in; we’re trying to find things in case shit don’t land on your lap.
This is the spirit of Stallone coming through; taking a bit of control.
[Laughs] Yeah. He’s too much of an influence on me.
I’m sure you can’t tell me anything about the new Fast And Furious movie. This one has Tony Jaa in it, right?
Yeah, I love Tony Jaa. He’s one of the best and most capable martial arts stuntmen in the world. Have you seen Ong Bak?
I have, it’s crazy.
He’s something else, isn’t he? Yeah, I made a good friend out of him. I’m so happy I got to meet him. And it’s funny how things come about, because all we could talk about was trying to find a movie so we could do one together. A sort of movie where it’s like a two hander. So, for me, that would be terrific.
I think there would be a lot of people who’d be very pleased to see that one. I know I’d be very keen to.
We’re trying to do that. Some things have a way.
Well, you have your production company now. You can make this happen.
Yeah, we’ve just got to find the script. Unfortunately I don’t have the talent of Stallone, I’m not a writer, so putting the story together. We can hire somebody. This is a chance to make it work.
One of the things I’ve noticed, between Homefront and Hummingbird, these are films that are more dramatic than some of your previous roles. Is that something you’ve consciously been looking for?
Yeah, you always try to push yourself, and if you’re just doing things that don’t allow that then it gets a little boring. Obviously you want to stretch yourself and do things that are a little out of your comfort zone.
One of the things that I’ve read recently is that a franchise you’ve been involved in, The Transporter, they’re doing a television version of this.
I think they’ve done a TV show already.
Oh, okay. Excuse me.
It’s not played in the UK, but it was a British guy who played Frank Martin. Yeah, you’ve got to look him up. Chris Vance.
I will do. The question I was leading towards was, have you ever been interested in pursuing a television role?
Not right now. I’m just happy with the films that are working out, and if I’m doing TV shows, I’m not gonna be able to do The Expendables, I’m not gonna be able to do The Fast And The Furious, I’m not gonna be able to do Viva La Madness. I’ve got good things on the horizon, so right now’s not the time.
You never know what’s around the corner. Never say never. Listen, the TV world is not what it used to be. I mean, the quality has become something quite exceptional.
Yes. Did you see Breaking Bad?
Yeah. I know the quality is there. A lot of good actors are turning to TV.
Absolutely. But if your career is going well on the big screen there’s no need for a change.
And you don’t have to work so hard. You know, a lot of the TV shows they do long hours and they do a lot of days and you don’t get a lot of time. But the good thing is, if you get one that’s made in LA, or made in a place you want to be, you get to go home every night.
I don’t know. It’s hard to predict where they’re going to make the TV show. I know a lot of people that live in LA and they end up being away from home, they say “We’re making the TV show and it’s in Canada so I never get to see my kids.” So, that can be problematic.
Amongst your films, do you have a favorite? [Or: what is your favorite Jason Statham movie, Jason Statham]
I have good memories of working with Guy Richie. He started me in the business, so I owe him so much, and I’ve always enjoyed the films. Those two films, Lock Stock and Snatch were just such a great thing for me.
And I also like The Bank Job. The Bank Job for me, was a great opportunity for me to do some good acting, you know? Other people might people might dispute that fact (laughs). It was a great story, a true story, and I got to work with some brilliant actors and I’m really proud of that movie.
Jason Statham, thank you very much.