Jason Statham may be best known for being a purveyor of pulpy, palpable thrills, but even he is occasionally interested in more than just making short work of the maximum number of enemies. In his new film Killer Elite, he plays a retired hit man drawn back into service, only to find himself being hunted by an equally formidable adversary, and testament to the filmâ€™s complexity and serious is the quality of his co-stars, who include Clive Owen and Robert De Niro. That said, although the film also provides some more thoughtful ideas, it never fails to offer the sort of excitement audiences have come to expect from something starring Jason Statham.
We caught up with Statham earlier this week via telephone as he talked from the set of his new project, Taylor Hackfordâ€™s Parker. In addition to discussing his collaboration with De Niro and co. on Killer Elite, Statham offered a few insights about how he plans to flex his muscles among so many other action stars inThe Expendables 2, and reflected on what heâ€™d still like to accomplish as he continues to develop his Hollywood career.
Movie and Celebrity: This seems like a slightly more serious or grown-up sort of thriller than some of the others youâ€™ve been in. was that part of the appeal of it or what did you especially like about this film?
Jason Statham: Yeah, definitely it was the maturity of the piece. Iâ€™ve always been inspired by the Bourne movies and thrillers that are a little bit more grown up, and I felt this had that tone. And it proves that because youâ€™ve got the great heavyweights of Robert De Niro and Clive Owen, and crap material doesnâ€™t attract those two. So we got something good, we always knew that. And that was the main reason, yeah.
Movie and Celebrity: Does the nonfiction aspect of a story like this change the way you prepare for the role?
Statham: I donâ€™t think it makes a difference to the role. You know, if Iâ€™m playing something like Crank, I mean, how do you prepare for a movie like Crank, since itâ€™s just a fantasy-based thing. So this is definitely more of a reach for me in terms of whatâ€™s going on. I mean, my relationships here have got a lot more conflict, so itâ€™s not so much about the preparation. Itâ€™s about collaboration with the director.
Movie and Celebrity: In The Mechanic and this you play characters who, from the audienceâ€™s point of view, youâ€™re the hero, but looking at the story objectively, youâ€™re the bad guy. Do you think of yourself as the hero in these stories, or how do you look at characters like these?
Statham: This particular movie doesnâ€™t have any bad guys. Thereâ€™s no sort of line between whoâ€™s bad and whoâ€™s good. Iâ€™m sort of a good person doing bad things but for the right reasons. But I donâ€™t know â€“ itâ€™s just what the material dictates.
Movie and Celebrity: In terms of working opposite Robert De Niro â€“ youâ€™ve certainly had some big costars, but what do you have to do when youâ€™re working against someone like him?
Statham: Well, look the fact is you never act alone, and youâ€™re only as good as the person opposite you. And if theyâ€™re bringing something, which he always does, then it sucks something out of you â€“ and thatâ€™s the facts right there. They just draw out something youâ€™re not used to. So for me, thatâ€™s what I feel.
Movie and Celebrity: Do you think you and he share something in common as actors â€“ or did you discover something while working with him?
Statham: Well, we donâ€™t do an analysis, we just tried to give some authenticity to the parts we were playing, you know. Weâ€™re just there and it feels right.