The actor on keeping his adrenaline up for 90 minutes of pure action
We've seen Jason Statham do stunt after stunt after stunt in all his movies - and he takes the hits like a pro.
And in his new movie, Crank, there's nothing different - he goes from getting electrically shocked at a hospital, standing on top of a motorcycle, taking on eight guys with guns, running down the streets of Los Angeles naked, and having sex with Amy Smart in the middle of Chinatown. It's all he can do to stay alive.
That's because he's been deathly poisoned with an ejection from his former mob partners; in order to stay alive, he must keep his adrenaline pumping. We had the chance to talk to Jason about Crank and working on that scene with Amy; he also gave us an update on what's going on with The Brazilian Job.
The film is written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor; and before we even get a question out to Jason, he couldn't help but to take a jab at his newbie feature helmers, "Who did you just have in here? Not that pair of idiots; g-d, how did they get a chance to make a film, eh?"
We were then able to get our questions in. Here's what he had to say:
So we heard you put a guy in the hospital with 5 stitches?
Jason Statham: That wasn't exactly my fault, but I will take a certain amount of responsibility. We was fighting in and around outside of the helicopter a few thousand feet above downtown LA - you're trying to keep your composure at times, and basically what we were trying to do is sell something like a big real fight scene, highly energized with a certain degree of fear that we're all going to fall to the bloody floor. So, in an attempt to make it realistic, you get a bit carried away - poor old Jose (Pablo Cantillo) reached in for a punch, and he reacted so much, he cracked his head on the side of the helicopter.
What about the phone booth scene.
Jason Statham: Oh, the phone booth - well, then I'll come in again. Sh*t. Yeah, as I'm telling you the story, I'm trying to recall that he didn't have any stitches, but he had a mild concussion and they whisked him off in an ambulance. He recovered rather well, because he's a tough nut. But we're talking about the phone scene - yeah, we had some great stunt men on this. Yeah, thank G-d.
So during the Red Bull scene, you actually drank 15 Red Bulls?
Jason Statham: This movie - ugh - it was a nightmare at times, because that was the worst part of it, having to get handfuls of Tic Tacs and chocolate on top of this stuff called Rockstar and Red Bull and all these other things. And I didn't want to keep slugging water, I wanted to get the fizz, so if it frothed you'd see the color. So they went, 'Ok, go ahead then. If you want to be-' So by the fifth or sixth - it was actually in the gas station, when I'm in the fridge there, and I'm pulling out the thing and I'm slugging it. Yeah, it's not to be taken light, that Red Bull - very potent in large amounts.
So you had no problem wearing just the hospital gown?
Jason Statham: No problem, mate. It's my Scottish heritage; my father's from Scottland.
So showing your buttocks?
Jason Statham: Yeah, not my usual Yoga poses. Yeah, what can you do; you've got to run around in the hospital gown - a man's done sillier things. A man's laid a woman over a newspaper stand - I think that was slightly more embarrassing scene than running around in a hospital gown.
Now tell us about that love scene?
Jason Statham: Love scene? That was a tough one, yeah. Well, I might just get on the table and drop my pants and probably feel the same way I felt that day. You just got a whole group of people staring at your pasty white bottom. You got to try and act - it could get a bit crude, so I'm not going to go there. There are certain details in there that I was trying to ask Brian and in the end, it just becomes a funny thing, seriously. It's just a crazy, desperate moment and that's why it's funny. It's this guy lulling to the point of dying, and it's what can I do at this point to try and raise my heart level. That's the last thing on anyone's mind, and it's to the point of lunatic suggestions in his own head - he grabs his girlfriend, and away they go. But, you can't take that too seriously and I think too hard about it.
It must have been an interesting rehearsal.
Jason Statham: It was; thank g-d it was Amy Smart. Yeah, we had lots of fun and I got some fun moments of this movie, and it's a crazy old movie. The rehearsals were just as mad. It's one of the hardest things I had to imagine was how are they going to film this sex scene, and for it to stay in the movie, for it to work. Somehow, after the first two weeks, I was completely on the hook with Brian and Mark. Whatever they suggested it was like, 'Yeah, ok, let's just go for it.' If you have that apprehension, you're going to get yourself into a sticky kind of quagmire of restriction. If it's no good, they're not going to put it in, so you just got to go for it and just put your life in their hands.
How many times and angles did you shoot that scene?
Jason Statham: Far too many, believe me. Because you shoot it and have some fun, and you want to move on - you have enough of people staring at your ass, so yeah. We shot that several different ways; it was a memorable day.
Did you also do your own driving in the movie?
Jason Statham: Yeah, because we had a terrific stunt coordinator and we had some very useful equipment that we were able to use. And I'm good behind a wheel anyway; I'm very experienced at driving, the driving for me is a piece of cake. I get behind a car and I can drive manual, automatics, spin, I can do whatever you want.
Was that from the stunt driving experience on Transporter 2?
Jason Statham: I've got lots of driving experience, yeah - have you got the keys to your car, I'll show you. I'll shave the tread off in five minutes.
Not your car, though.
Jason Statham: No, I'm trying to save mine.
What kind of car do you drive?
Jason Statham: I've got an RS6, I've got an Audi, twin turbo, 450 horsepower machine.
In the UK?
Jason Statham: In the US.
So you can't really drive it correctly because of the speed limit.
Jason Statham: It's nice to have that power.
It's nice to know it's there.
Jason Statham: That's the one, yeah.
If you had only one hour to live, what would you do?
Jason Statham: I don't want to incriminate myself here; I'll keep that close to my mind. I don't know, it's a difficult one to think what you would truly do. Yeah, I'll answer that later.
Jason Statham: Ha, legally - where's the fun in that!
With all your stunt background, is there still fear in some of the work you do?
Jason Statham: yeah, the decelerator thing we used was sort of an adventure for me because just for the first time, you don't know what's going to happen. You don't know how to prepare for it because you're relying on machinery; I'm very confident when I'm relying on my own physical capabilities for stunt work. I'll jump if I can land on my feet, and I know if someone throws a punch I know I can move. It's very easy for me to gain confidence with my own physical ability, but when you're putting your life in a machine's hands, that's where I get a little bit uncomfortable. And so this decelerator rig, I asked fifty million questions, and went through every little nut and bolt, and every piece of equipment, and I wanted to see it work. If something electronically fails, I want to know there's something else that's going to stop me from turning into a pool of blood. So, it's kind of innerving when you have to rely on equipment and stuff of that nature because you have no control.
Because you do your own stunts, does that make it harder to say 'no' to directors?
Jason Statham: No, I usually say yes, because I get a big thrill out of doing it; it's very hard for me to say 'no.' Usually, I'm a producer's nightmare, cause they would normally prefer me to sit on the tall chair and let the stunt man do it. But, I think there's a big space for people who don't do their own stuff; there's so much faking that goes on, I just feel like the audience gets cheated a little bit. If you've got a guy capable of doing that, then stick him in and let the audience see it; a lot of it is shot through the camera, not a lot of green screen, and you're not obscured by a wig. You know when a guy is doing it and when a guy isn't doing it, and I think we're trying to give people what they want to see. I'm certainly one who wants to see people doing what they're trying to fake what they're doing.
Do you still dive?
Jason Statham: No, not anymore.
It looked like diving when you're standing on the motorcycle.
Jason Statham: Yeah, that was mad, because he's on a bike and he's trying to get his heartbeat going and what else can you do - ok, I'll jump onto the tank. It's like these elevated mad things, how do you get your heart going? That was just a bit of a balancing act - yeah, some of the things that we did, didn't make the cut, but I'll let the di - ah, you've had them, so they can't tell you.
What kind of things are you doing when you're not shooting movies?
Jason Statham: I do a lot of knitting, flower arranging, I wash poodles. Yeah, I work in a beauty salon and give manicures.
Jason Statham: No, I do sporting activities; I like scuba diving, and they're probably my first two passions. I like a lot of concerts, I like music. I've got a very close friend, and manager who doesn't allow me to do much stuff.
What about motorcycle races?
Jason Statham: No, they won't let me; they say 'you have to go work, we need you for another film.' I get offers to do races, the celebrity grand prix's, but usually the cars are sh*t. They only do like 100 miles an hour; if you're going to put me in a race, let's have a proper race. It's something I'm looking to do, but usually the cars are slower than what I dive, domestically - so it's not really what I like.
What is coming up on your schedule?
Jason Statham: Next on the schedule, gosh, I don't know, I don't know what to say. We've got a few things - (to his assistant) What can I tell them? It's hard to know what we're going to do next; we've got something that's pretty exciting that's coming up, but it may not. I'm going to sit down, and say, 'What happened to that movie?' So fingers crossed, it's a drama, it's not an action film because I'm retiring from action movies. No, that's not true.
Jason Statham: Yeah, there's a script - The Brazilian Job that we want to do, but whether that happens, that's another thing. We're all good friends, and I think we made a good movie and I think we can make another good movie.
Would you work with Guy Ritchie again?
Jason Statham: Absolutely, I'd be very happy to work with Guy; yeah, he's one of my strangling partners, by the way. I do a lot of Jiu-Jitsu. He's one guy who I turn various shades of purple. He'd like to hear that, so make sure you write it.
Can he defend himself?
Jason Statham: He's very good; he's a terrific martial artist. He's done full contact karate for 15 years, and he's got a very confident manner in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I'm much better, so much better, you don't even know.
Are you living in LA?
Jason Statham: Yeah, I'm spending more time here than anywhere else, cause it's a very productive lifestyle I have here. I train a lot, and this is where the work is.
Why do you think Daniel Craig has gotten so much grief from the press?
Jason Statham: I don't know, I couldn't answer that. Maybe they wanted me to be Bond.
What do you think?
Jason Statham: Don't know? They never asked me, f*ckers!
We won't see him in Bond, but you can check him out in Crank in theaters now; it's rated R.