With a voice
thatís a cross between surly hooligan and Brit urbane, English action
star Jason Statham expands his oeuvre in his latest film, Safe, while staying true to form.
He kills; he bashes; he slashes, maims and mangles all the way while
showing a touch of tenderness and almost a love for a little 10-year-old
Chinese orphan who happens to be a math genius and smart-mouthed
bullets spewed by Russian gangsters, the Chinese mob and corrupt police,
Statham plays a surreptitious police enforcer turned pariah turned
avenging angel as he keeps this young girl alive and wreaks havoc among
the bad guys.
Yakin strays a far distance from his previous film, Death in Love
(a twisted post-Holocaust memoir starring Josh Lucas), to make this
NY-based action callback to films like Death Wish.
Somehow the film
didnít have as much noise and bluster as some of Stathamís other films
(such as the Transporter series), or those where he clashes with
Jet Li and Clive Owen, but it does have a faux New York (most of it was
shot in Philly) and a great appreciation of the criminal underground.
Now, thanks to its
recent DVD/Blu-Ray release thereís this chance to re-appreciate his
kicking butt on these crime cabals.
So if you didnít
get enough of Jason playing his very Jason-ness in Expendables 2,
hereís another chance to revel in his unique brand of cinematic MMA
(that mixed-martial arts for the un-initiated). In a fast paced Q&A
staged at the time of the film theatrical release Statham gives it to a
small roundtable of fans. Or, as he put it in his own inimitable style,
said somewhere that it was a breath of fresh air working with someone
new to the industry. Did that affect your performance?
No, whoever youíre
working with you feed off each otherís energies. If itís a good one,
like with Catherine [Chan], then it works really well. Youíre only as
good as the person youíre opposite. Iím afraid thatís the truth.
What was it
like the first time you met Catherine?
We had to meet in
a very adult way and I think thatís what makes the relationship very
sweet. Sheís a very grown up girl. Sheís way above her years. We talk to
each other in a very simple way and it works really well.
Did you have
time to meet her before the filming started?
They cast the film
and we had a little get together and sometimes a little rehearsal. Boaz
is a very experienced filmmaker and he does the things he needs to give
her the confidence and it works that way.
Did the script
let you take a different, more emotional, approach?
That [emotion] was
an important part of the story. The fact that his wife gets brutally
murdered by the Russian mafia and it just so happens that these are the
thugs chasing poor old Catherine down the subway platform, people wanna
see these people meet their maker.
character shows a lot more of a vulnerable side.
Boaz and Lawrence
Bender, whoís a great producer, said to me that Iíve never really done
anything like this. You must acknowledge the fact that this has all the
bells and whistles of something you do really well, but it has so much
more underneath. He said itís something weíd love to have you do. Itís
definitely a side I never get to play. Vulnerability is not something
thatís usually ticked on the front of the script.
Did you prepare
for the role by talking to someone thatís homeless or had lost a spouse?
Iím not a
whippersnapper. Iíve met people that have gone through loss and you can
understand how painful that is. Iíve seen a few homeless people in my
time. Living in London most of life you get to rub shoulders with them
in the early hours. So Iím not completely naÔve to that world.
to the film was that scene where your wife was killed and you showed
restraint. Thereís a different sense of timing to this film Ė it doesnít
happen like some other Jason Statham films Ė it catches you off guard.
My hat is well and
truly tipped to Boaz because he is the writer and the director, and at
the end of the day heís the editor. Heís the man that puts the story
together. So construction of where and when these moments happen is very
much in his control and it seems like he did it the right way.
But a lot of
the humor seemed like it had to come from you.
We said a few
funny things, and a lot of the times heíd [Boaz] say that was terrible.
But along the line something stuck. Iíll say it again; Boaz is quite a
funny writer. Heís responsible for all of the humor. Delivery I
obviously have to take care of, but the humor is in the writing.
you thought of as funny before you started doing films?
Hey, I donít know.
In the Guy Ritchie movies I did, [Revolver, Snatch, Lock Stock and
Two Smoking Barrels], he has a certain wit with a pen, and a lot of
that straightly played humor seems to have a place and I quite like that
kind of stuff.
thought of breaking away from action movies and doing an indie drama or
a romantic comedy?
Yeah, Iíd love to
do an interesting film in any of those genres; itís just what comes your
way. Usually the filmmaker is the drive. Iím not in pursuit of those
because things are coming my way that are interesting in a different way
and you have to make a decision. If people are interested in seeing you
play a particular part and you like the part, the collaboration is a
media. But if youíre pursuing something, Iím a director and I really
want to put this chap in my picture and youíre banging on my door every
night, but I want him; Itís going to create a difficult deal. You might
get the part, or he might say he really wanted him. You can campaign,
you can go after parts, and a lot of stuff that comes my way isÖ Iím
doing a great film at the moment called Hummingbird with Steven
Knight, whoís a terrific writer. He wrote Eastern Promises and
Dirty Pretty Things. Heís written a dark dramatic film and itís
probably the biggest departure from my action movies.
Did you do
martial arts prior to this film?
kickboxing, regular boxing, so I have experience in throwing a punch.
you research or train in other global styles?
Thereís not a lot
of time. They keep me very busy, but I work with a group of people in LA
that have experience and knowledge in martial arts like you wouldnít
believe. They know and have studied it relentlessly for years and years.
Iím working with them when Iím filming, when Iím not filming, so Iím
absorbing and taking on board all the experience I can. Itís great, itís
a real passion, and thatís another reason why I tend to gravitate to
doing these films, was because I really have a fascination for martial
arts. Iím doing The Expendables 2, thatís coming out soon. But
itís very difficult to not make a movie become a martial arts movie.
Because if you do a roundhouse kick or if you do something too fancy, it
wonít really fit for the character, so youíre restricted by what the
character and his background dictates.
Some call you
this generationís Charles Bronson. Is that something you embrace?
Itís an extremely
gracious compliment and God knows how much truth is in that.
Youíre a lot
friendlier than he was
I never had a
chance to meet him.
Did you enjoy
seeing a little of New York while filming?
One of the
greatest cities in the world. Itís nice to be back and filming. Itís not
easy to do that. Thatís because itís very crowded in the streets. Itís
never quite dead. Thereís always traffic or people. Youíre shooting in
the middle of the day and itís not an easy task, but thatís more of a
headache for the production. The actors can just come in and do the