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John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars: Part II: Jason Statham

The first thing to learn about going to a table meet-n-greet: Eat as much food as you possibly can. I don't care how burnt the macaroni is, how raw the blood-oozing meat is, how stale the cookies are, someone paid for this stuff so you didn't have to. Take a plate, fill it up, and slide it on down. It's FREE! Those are two very fine words found in the English dictionary, and when you put them together, magic happens. Your goal: By the time that second guest arrives, be bloated. Actors like that queasy eye roll. The threat of being vomited on opens up a person to things they possibly wouldn't discuss otherwise.

Always works for me. You should see the shock on some of these faces. No one knew Jason Statham was going to show for a round. It wasn't on the menu, but here he is, standing in front of us: Turkish. A pleasant surprise for me, I've enjoyed his work thus far. Too bad questions weren't prepared in his honor. Considering this small misfortune, things fly by nicely...For awhile.(Watch the jackass in the corner as he repeats items we've already gone over...No, it wasn't me.)

Table: Do you always have to play the nice guy'

Statham: Yeah, I do, actually. I want to play the bad guy. People actually think I'm the bad guy. I don't know why.

Table: What did you think of John Carpenter before he called you up to do this movie?

Statham: I was a huge fan. I'm very familiar with all of his work. I was thrilled at meeting him, let alone being in a movie with him. It just got better and better, you know' Getting to shake his hand, and then getting to sit in a room with a great filmmaker. Share a couple of beers and talk about all kinds of stuff. Next thing you know, he's putting me in a film. It's great.

Table: What had you seen of his' Everything'

Statham: I've probably missed a couple, but I'm very familiar with all of his early stuff: Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Thing. The list is endless. He's made some fantastic films.

Table: What drew you to the roll'

Statham: The chance to work with John. I knew Ice Cube was going to be in it as well. Pammy, I love all of her stuff. It's a chance to work with a great cast and a great filmmaker. Enough said. There's a lot of reasons that an actor takes on a roll, and this is just a few of them.

Table: Do you have a particular love for Science Fiction' You've got THE ONE coming out'

Statham: Obviously I have an interest, or I wouldn't be doing what I've been doing of recent. Yeah, it's all great stuff for me. Science Fiction, I've always been a fan of.

Table: How was John's style of directing versus Guy's (Guy Ritchie of Snatch & Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels) style'

Statham: Much more relaxed and much less violent. I didn't get strangled in-between takes. It was quite a relief. Guy's a bit more feisty sort of director. He loves a bit of a rough-n-tumble, and a bit of a gambling session. He loves a lot of sarcastic people around him. He gets off on the humor, and everything's done so quickly, he likes to boss people around. It's great. Everybody loves what he does, and he gets a good performance out of people. John, on the other side of the coin, is much more laid back, and doesn't take it so seriously. Not that Guy does, but it's much more of a relaxed environment. It's an equally pleasurable environment to be in.

Table: What about working with Jim Wong (Final Destination) compared to John Carpenter or Mr. Ritchie?

Statham: Directors all have their own sort of ways, and each personality is a different one. Again, Jim is very, very honest to what he wants. There's a lot of complicated, technical stuff that Jim did for the movie, THE ONE. It's a very complicated story, and he used really technical camera techniques. Action sequences, and so much stuff to take aboard. Yeah, each director maintains a different personality. Either you get along or you don't. I've been very lucky to get along with everyone I've worked with.

Table: On this side of the pond, we know you from Guy's work. Then from Ghosts of Mars and THE ONE. It seems like you're moving to a more physical style of acting. Here, you're kicking some serious Martian ass, and I'm sure there's a little of that going on in THE ONE, too. Do you prefer all that physical work'

Statham: Yeah. I love that stuff. I was a sportsman for years. I used to do high diving for the country. I've always had a physical background. I've always had an interest in boxing and fighting. Me and Guy love to go grappling, and we take on Jujitsu, and Judo. You name it; we have a great passion for it. To get physical in films is a dream. I love it.

Table: Did you do a lot of your own stunts?

Statham: I'd love to do more, but it's a producer's nightmare sometimes. There's things they just won't allow you to do that I'm quite capable of. They want to see you turn up the next day. I get a big kick out of anything that would provoke an adrenaline rush. It's a shame that they wont let you do all this stuff sometimes. All the fighting stuff, you get to do, but if you're going to fall off that thirty-foot catwalk on wires, and bang into the side rails, they scratch their head and go, 'Maybe not today.?

Table: During Snatch, you talked about trying to make a decision of whether you wanted to relocate here. Are you still trying to decide that' Are you going to place yourself here?

Statham: No. I've always got a home in England. My family and friends are there. It's a place I hold very close to me. It doesn't mean I'm not going to leave there to come and make great films. If it means I'm going to be out here doing movies, with great filmmakers, so be it. I'm very happy to be out here, and I'm enjoying the lifestyle and the people here. This is where I'm doing films recently. Having said that, I went home this year to do a film for Mathew, a remake of the Longest Yard. You know' The old Burt Reynolds' film' Again, we've got a very small budget, independent kind of filmmaking. I was very pleased to go back there and do that.

Table: What roll do you play in that'

Statham: I think he was called the Specialist. It comes out, and I'm actually playing goal. It's a soccer movie, and I can't believe they stick me in goal for this one. It was great fun.

Table: So, it's a remake of the Longest Day set in soccer'

Statham: Longest Yard. I think the film is called the Longest Yard. The film's actually called The Mean Machine.

Table: Is Vinnie in that also'

Statham: Yeah. He's the star. Vinnie's actually a professional football player himself. Who could you pick better than him' It's my third movie with Vinnie.

Table: Are you on his team?

Statham: Yeah, I'm on his team.

Table: That's a good thing. So, you went up to Europe to make this, what are you making in the United States now?

Statham: I'm doing a film in France this winter. Hopefully I'll come back out for the New Year and do something in Hollywood. That would be the idea. Great.

Table: That movie's called The Transporter'

Statham: The Transporter. Yeah.

Table: What else can you tell us about that?

Statham: I can't, really. I'm not going to say too much about it. I could get my lips sewn up.

Table: Who else is in it'

Statham: I can't, actually. 'I told you not to say anything!' (Punching himself in the face with sound effects)

Table: Can you talk a little bit about THE ONE'

Statham: I suppose so. I mean, we'll be doing a big press junket for that. I don't know what you want to know. Don't you want to know anything more about John's stuff'

Table: John's film is supposed to be built on a matriarchy. Women have the power. Was there a different vibe on the set at all?

Statham: Yeah, I'm used to working with strictly men of my own age. It was great to have some females around. It was a pleasure.

Table: Did you get any bumps or bruises from the fight scenes'

Statham: There's a few twangs and stuff. A few hamstrings that start needling, but I think that's just age.

Table: So, you didn't clock anybody or get clocked by anybody?

Statham: No. Not really. We had a very cautious stunt coordinator by the name of Jeff Imada, who was very careful about how we weren't going to hurt anyone. And we did quite a bit of training. I think we did six weeks in the back garden of the production office over in the Valley. We did our hunk work, sort of kept each other alive.

Table: In terms of the location of the movie, I kept trying to compare the dirt from the outside scenes to the inside scenes. Where was most of it filmed, in terms of when the battering ram and all that was happening' I noticed there were two locations on there. Where was most of it filmed'

Statham: In New Mexico. In Albuquerque.

Table: It was outside, though'

Statham: It was in a big gypsum mine. We were shooting through the night. It was very, very hot. Come the evening, the clouds would open, and we'd get thoroughly drenched.

Table: You look so much bigger on screen.

Statham: Ehh.

Table: You look at least six or seven inches taller on film.

Statham: Yeah' I must have gone to sleep in a green house. I'll put on a few inches for the next movie, then.

Table: John actually gave us some quotes about partying in Albuquerque. Did you get into any of the nightlife' Any socializing with John himself while you were out there'

Statham: Yeah, we had a couple of great nights. That's the great thing about John. Everything's like a little family with him. No one's excluded from anything. All the boys went for a last night out, and it was a great bonding session. It's great that people take the time out to do that. It makes it more get-on. I think that's fantastic.

Table: Can you talk a little bit about working with Ice Cube, and how hard that experience was' Did you guys exchange CDs, maybe?

Statham: I ain't got a CD. I've been known to sing from time to time, and get thrown out of many establishments. Yes, I haven't got any CDs I could pass on to him. I love the hip-hop scene. I bought the latest CD that Ice Cube had done while I was out there. He's so cool. He really is. But then again, what was refreshing is, he wasn't trying to be cool. He just is. Some people just try to be cool, and they're so not. It's an innate sort of personality that he possesses. I'm a big fan of his.

Table: How was your chemistry off-screen with Natasha' She put you in your place a few times in the movie.

Statham: We got along well. We got along really well. Her husband seemed to put a stop to that.

Table: Was there a lot of special effects work, as far as looking at blue screens' Or was most of it on set'

Statham: It was all done on set. I didn't get to see a blue screen through the whole film. Nothing was a blue screen. John just sort of did the whole thing as is. Yeah. Which is good.

Table: Are there any directors or actors that you'd like to work with next'

Statham: Yeah, there's a huge list of filmmakers that you want to work with. And equally, amongst great talent and great actors. I wouldn't know where to start. There's so many great ones out there. Who do you put at the top of your list?

Table: Would you like to keep working in Science Fiction'

Statham: No, I'm not fixed in any genre. I love all kinds of films. The essential thing is; you have to have good material. If you have the filmmaker, and the material, and the script is good, you can start from there. I don't think I'm restricted to science fiction. I would like to do whatever else is out there.

Table: Can we talk a little about the first time you saw some of the make-up effects they had on the villains' Did you know what they were going to look like' What was your reaction when you first saw them?

Statham: I thought Big Daddy Mars, the leader of the pack, I thought they did an amazing job. He was frightening. He was a big man as well. I thought they did a fabulous job with that.

Table: Can you tell us about your character in THE ONE' (This guy must have fallen asleep)

Statham: Uh'I kind of brushed on that a moment ago, didn't I' But someone wasn't listening, were they'

Table: Do you get to fight Jet Li'

Statham: Yeah, actually I do. I get to fight Jet.

Table: How was that?

Statham: It goes like this'(Does a demonstration, knocking himself out of the chair with sound effects) He sort of throws me around, you know' He's a man who possesses sixty human strengths. It's hard to get the upper hand. Especially with Jet anyway. You have to eat the Humble Pie when you come to martial arts with him.

Table: Are you on wires?

Statham: No. No wires, no.

Table: What kind of fan do you think the Mars movie is going to appeal to' I got the sense of Heavy Metal, WWF Wrestling. That's the image I got from it.

Statham: I think that stands for the audience to deliver. Who knows'

Table: I could see Stone Cold in there. And the Rock, and a few those guys.

Statham: (Laughs) Interesting concept. You never know. It's hard to predict what kinds of people are going to enjoy it. And what people ain't. That's the movies.' You never know.

Table: When you picked that role'Did you do it with the idea that it would get you to another step' Or another level?

Statham: Me personally' No. I just take it as-is. I think that's as far as you have to think. Everything happens as a coincidence. It either happens or it doesn't. It's hard to map out a strategic plan by saying, 'If I do that, that's going to get me meeting him.' Or, 'That's going to get me the next one.' I think that's the wrong way to go into movies as an actor. It doesn't happen for me that way.

Table: Were you disappointed that your character didn't survive the final battle?

Statham: Yeah. I wanted to beat everybody up, and it's a bit of a shame. They got the upper hand, and I paid the price and met my demise.

Table: Did you have some input into the character, or was it already on the page when you got it.

Statham: I met John and we kind of tailor-made it to suit personal characteristics that I possess. It ended up being the way it was. He kind of tweaked it to what he found useful in me.

Table: How did this movie come to you?

Statham: As I said, I love John's work, and when I went to meet him, it was the perfect thing to be in one of his films.

Table: Before you go, I wanted to ask'Were you as successful with the women on Earth as you were on Mars?

Statham: None of your business.

And the man leaves with a smile. I'm going to have to rethink some of this "Eat all the food you can" business. All that raw meat is starting to rot in my colon. Or maybe those new billboards on the way to work are messing with my head. I have some free Clearly Canadian. Is this supposed to be good for me' Is it healthy?

Next up, we have Natasha Henstridge and John Carpenter. Stick around for more fun, won't you' Ah, get the F@*K out of here. Wait, I didn't mean it...

Dont't forget to also check out: John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars