Brit thesp Jason Statham is fast becoming the biggest action star in the world, with hits like The Transporter, Cellular and Crank to his credit. This week sees the release of Death Race, Paul WS Anderson’s big-budget remake of the Roger Corman cult classic. In it Statham plays Jensen Ames, a former race car driver imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and forced to take part in a deadly series of televised races. IGN caughtup with him to discuss the film.
IGN: Had you seen the original Death Race 2000?
The Stath: I hadn’t seen the original, even to this day. But I do not stand alone. Most of the other cast hadn’t seen it either. So there’s your answer; I don’t know what the first one’s about even. I know you get points for killing grannies – that’s as much as I know.
IGN: So what’s your take on this movie then? How would you pitch it to someone?
The Stath: I don’t have to pitch movies. I’m no good at it! [laughs] this is like a race to the death, it’s based in a prison which is run by a very evil warden – who’s based on a real character actually – and it’s an extension of the public’s bloodlust and how reality TV and the gladiatorial fighters who are fighting in the ring, they want to see something bigger and better, hence the Death Race.
IGN: We’ve seen you behind the wheel in other movies, how did the driving action in this compare to something like the Transporter movies?
The Stath: Hmm…it’s different because what we’re doing in the Transporter films is more driving on public roads and you’re driving in a car that has 360-degree vision. These cars, you have no real rear view vision, you have these little slits to look out on, it’s a different feeling. You’re driving on a gravel track with things sticking out of the ground, you’re getting hit – it’s like stock car racing, y’know?
IGN: You’ve got a reputation for doing a lot of your own stunts – was that even possible in all the carnage we see in this film?
The Stath: Yeah, you get bashed around – y’know, I do as much as they allow me to do, and all the silly stuff gets left to the silly people! [laughs]
IGN: Aside from all the action, you’ve got some fascinating scenes with Joan Allen and it’s great to hear her cussing you out – how did those scenes feel to play?
The Stath: Yeah, she’s great, just to step up into that league, standing across from award-winning actors like Joan Allen and Ian McShane, that’s the big league. Just to be in the same room as someone like that and doing a scene, it just ramps everything up.
IGN: You’ve got these action movie franchises on the go – The Transporter, Crank – have you ever considered a superhero movie?
The Stath: A superhero thing, yeah, I’ve been close to a couple of them though nothing ever ultimately came my way…
IGN: Any in particular? Or ones that you’d really fancy if you had your pick?
The Stath: I don’t know; a lot of the movies I get inspired by, the action movies and the martial arts movies that Bruce Lee used to do, a lot of the stuff where you see guys doing their own fight routines and their own stunts, and a lot of the super-hero movies it sort of all relies on CG and very expensive budgets. I don’t know whether I’d get as much of a reward out of that stuff as I probably think. It might bore me to tears.
IGN: They wouldn’t be using your real talents?
The Stath: It wouldn’t be me. It’d be some man in a suit doing what I would do normally.
IGN: Finally, have you managed to see RocknRolla yet?
The Stath: I’m dying to see it, I’m going to see it next week. I arrived in the UK yesterday and was working so I haven’t had a chance to see it yet.
IGN: I’m surprised you weren’t in it?
The Stath: I was doing Death Race at the time – can’t be in two places at once..!
The published article can be read on IGN – ‘Jason Statham Q&A’