Sitting down with Jason Statham to talk about his latest movie is a treat for any action fan: If you’re female, the fact that he greets you with “darling” and calls you “love” doesn’t hurt.
In his new film, “Parker,” he plays a thief who’s double-crossed by his partners (MIchael Chiklis and Clifton Collins, Jr.) and must track them down in Palm Beach. There he relies on the know-how of local real estate agent, played by Jennifer Lopez. The tough-guy role fits the star of “The Transporter” and “The Expendables” like a glove He spoke with Moviefone about always upping the ante on his stuntwork and that, at 45, he’s still proud to do all his own stunts. However, his least favorite part of making the film was having to wear a harness for one risky balcony scene that he nearly recreated in the hotel room in the middle of this interview.
Had you seen the previous films made about this character, “Point Blank” with Lee Marvin and “Payback” with Mel Gibson?
Yeah! Lee Marvin. C’mon, who doesn’t love Lee Marvin? And Mel Gibson. Yeah, very familiar with them playing the part. They weren’t called “Parker.” I think one was called “Porter.” [Laughs] So I think Lee Marvin’s was Walter or something like that. [Editor’s note: It's actually "Walker.']
Would you say this character fits you well?
Well… a criminal? [Laughs] The die-hard crook? What are you trying to say?
He’s a tough guy! What was the toughest scene in this film? You have a really brutal fight scene in hotel room that involves a balcony.
Yeah. They test [screen] these films when they’re making them and that always seems to be the favorite scene, “Oh yeah, when he goes over the balcony.” Those crowd-pleasing moments, you never know where they’re going to appear. That’s the excitement of having a heist movie with some action.
Did you take a real beating filming that?
Yeah, I did. It’s not so much you need three weeks off to heal, but because you have to be on a wire, there’s certain parts of that that just get in the way [grits his teeth], you want to do it without the wire, so you don’t feel restricted, but the idea of hanging over a balcony with no wire … they’re going to say, “No, you can’t do it.”
But you would be willing to do it without the wire?
Uh, I would hang over there, yeah. I’m not afraid of heights. I’ll show you, love. [And here he pretends to get up and go over to the balcony, which is 14 floors up.]
Oh great, I got Jason Statham killed.
No, but you know the restrictive nature of a harness and a wire, it just gets in the way.
It rips up your arms. It’s more annoying than anything.
Do you have input into the stunts you do in the film?
We have a great stunt team that should know what they’re doing and come up with good ideas. If they’re dreaming up these great ideas, then all I have to do is say yes. If they’re bad, I can hopefully try and get them to make it good. But I do have an involvement. I, hopefully, have a sense of something that could be exciting, because if it’s not exciting to me, I’m sure nobody else is going to find it either.
Jennifer Lopez plays sort of against type, as an insecure-but-tough real estate agent. Tell me about working with her.
Yeah, she just brings something to the movie. It’s nice to have the great elegance of Jennifer. I think she brings a street cred to it as well. She’s got a great part and I just remember our scenes were really great. We had a lot of fun doing it. [Director] Taylor [Hackford], he’s an Academy Award nominee. You have that strength behind the camera and everyone relaxes and you can enjoy yourself.
One of my favorite Jennifer Lopez movies is “Out of Sight,” with that great “you wanted to tussle, we tussled” scene (http://youtu.be/3ThrlTaPWO8). There’s been talk about doing a female version of “The Expendables.” I think Jennifer might qualify, based on that.
I think she’d qualify quite easily.
Who else would you think might be right for the “Expenda-belles?”
That’s a good question. I could make a list. I suppose Gina Carano would be a good one. She’s a toughie.
And you’re back for “Expendables 3?”
Unless Sly decides to find another baldheaded Englishman.
Can you see the day when you’re going to have a stuntman step in for you?
Hang up my stunt shoes? I don’t know. I’d hate to think that I’d have to rely on somebody else, because I enjoy it. I like the thrills of it. It gives you a sense of achievement and pushing yourself. The reward comes from … “Oh, I don’t want to do that,” and then you do it, and then the reward comes. Anything that tests your fear or your skill, if you can combine the two, there’s a lot of benefits from it. You can grow a little bit.
So you would be bored in a movie with no action?
No, I wouldn’t be bored. It would be a different thing.
“The Bank Job” didn’t have a lot of action.
No, exactly. It was a movie driven by drama and I loved that. It’s probably one of my best movies. Some things come your way and sometimes good scripts like that, you have to wait around for them. With “Parker,” it’s a little bit of quality with a bit of action, so to combine the two, I get people that do like action films. If you end up just doing drama all the time, they’d go, “What happened to the action?” You have to try to please certain people who like those things.
I think people expect a certain amount of action if you’re in a film. Do you feel the pressure to keep topping yourself when it comes to coming up with more insane action scenes?
Yeah. It’s like a comedian has to be funnier. It’s like you don’t want to watch Will Ferrell have a fight scene with 10 guys in a garage. People would rather see him be funny, because he’s better at that than, probably, other things. You have to play to your strengths.