THE TRANSPORTER - Q&A with JASON STATHAM
Movie Interview by Kris Griffiths
PHASE9 chats to Jason Statham about his lead role in THE TRANSPORTER.
After the Guy Ritchie cockney capers this film is quite a step up for you. How did it all come about?
It was an idea dreamt up by my manager who's good mates with Luc Besson, who I'd met briefly in Los Angeles about two years ago. He was always bandying round the idea with him that I'd be good in an action film and how I've been an Olympic diver and done martial arts and everything. So Luc sent for me to meet him in Paris and we got along really well but I was super-nervous 'cos I've rated his films for years - I've watched THE BIG BLUE a million times and LE FEMME NIKITA and LEON - so you're gonna be in awe of someone as big as Luc Besson. After two hours of talking he said, "Ok, we're gonna make a movie," and it was easy as that. The fact that he gave me the lead role was just too good to be true. I'd have played any part in any of his films.
Would you say there were similarities between you and the characters you play?
Not in this film, no. He's got loads of rules and he's very quiet but I've got a big mouth and I break every rule in the book. I think certain elements of my personality may come out subconsciously but I'm not really aware of it. This character was a real test for me as an actor... it's a far cry from the Guy Ritchie caricatures that I've played in the past.
What kind of training did you have to do for the film?
I've done martial arts before and had a lot of coordination and balance from being a high diver for years so I already had a good base to work on. It was just a case of polishing and judging the distances and reaction times. We trained every day for five or six weeks in total.
Any injuries sustained?
Yeah, I pulled a hamstring and got a good kick in the face and a few stuntmen got one back (laughs) but accidents happen because it's so fast and dynamic. No matter how much you rehearse someone will always fall off balance and a punch will go the wrong way. You just have to be ready for it.
Did you have any problems pulling off your American accent?
It wasn't a very specific American accent - they just wanted to make him an international character living in the French Mediterranean so it was ambiguous as to where he was from. If I was just going to play the part as myself it would have taken something away from the movie.
Looking back at the film objectively, how happy would you say you are with your overall performance?
Well I'm not a film critic... I just try and do the best I can. You'll always be disappointed with a lot of things about your performance. By the time you get to see it it's three or four months later and you'll say to yourself "why did I do it like that?" but what's done is done. It's not healthy to watch yourself and pull yourself to pieces.
How does making movies in the States compare to making them in Britain?
Well you earn a lot more money for a start (laughs). You get pampered more... well you get pampered a bit too much actually. Everything's on a much bigger scale. All the stars have to have all their needs met whereas over here it's just like "fuck off and get back to work".
After earning a living as a dodgy street salesman what was it like to be suddenly working alongside all these big names?
Well, the first time Brad Pitt walked into the room I went "fuck me, it's Brad Pitt," but he's the most normal man you'll ever meet, no different to any of us. It's refreshing and makes you feel good to work with stars who are just normal... well he is anyway. There's a few dickheads out there for sure...
Do you reckon you'll ever collaborate with Kelly Brook on screen?
What, you mean do a movie together? No way (laughs). We see enough of each other already, living in each other's pockets for the last six months. And if I got a pound for every time someone's asked me if she's gonna be in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3...
Is there anyone in particular you'd like to work with in the future?
I haven't actually compiled a list but if I did it'd be a fucking long one. There's so many great filmmakers - I love David lynch and Scorcese - and so many actors like De Niro. Wouldn't life be great if you could just choose who to work with, but then again I suppose you'd become lazy and uninspired.
Number one film of all time?
THE GODFATHER trilogy.
Now that you've followed Vinnie Jones's footsteps into Hollywood action films, do you think he's scared you're going to steal his thunder?
No, we're good mates! I was at his birthday do the other day (laughs). I actually lived in his house for six months and there's never been a moment of competition between us, apart from when we play tennis.
Not content with Hollywood stardom, Vinnie released a shit record to boot. Any plans to follow suit?
Yeah, I'm gonna outsell him with my new album out soon.