Interview: Jason Statham of 'Parker'
'Shooting a fight scene? It's frustrating, it's difficult ... and at the same time, the reward is always good.'
Combining the capacity for explosive action with no small amount of charm, Jason Statham became an unlikely action star for the new millenium, one with both fast reflexes and a quick wit. In "Parker," Statham plays the title character -- a consummate professional, and professional thief, who has to set things right according to his standards when his partners on a heist rip him off and leave him for dead after an all-cash robbery. Taken from a beloved series of hard-boiled crime novels written by Donald Westlake under the name Richard Stark, there's more Parker novels to be brought to the big screen ... if, as Statham notes, the Box Office is good. We spoke with Statham in Los Angeles.
MSN Movies: This character comes from a long series of books. He's been played by Lee Marvin and Peter Coyote and other luminaries. Did you know about this when you read the script or did you dive into the history of the character as you read it?
Jason Statham: As I finished it, it all became apparent. The script just came to me and it was adapted by John J. McLaughlin, a brilliant writer. And then we looked a little bit deeper and found out he came with such a fantastic pedigree and you start to read about Donald and his fabulous history and realized we were into something really great.
Obviously when you signed onboard a film that makes it very easy for the film to get make, but as the other cast members sort of accrued around you, like Mr. Chiklis, Miss Lopez, Mr. Nolte -- were you really impressed by the caliber of supporting cast that were filling out this movie?
Exactly. That is responsible from the greatness of Taylor Hackford. He has a great history of filmmaking, and he's an Academy Award nominated director -- I think he actually won an Academy Award for a short film, so I must stand corrected there. So he's just tremendous, and he brings a great confidence and actors want to work with people like that.
I watch a lot of action trailers as a professional hazard, and a lot them just look like moments from video games -- you know, just pixels. But when you have that hotel room fight, and it's you and the other actor hurling each other around, how great it is to make that kind of analog mayhem to watch on the big screen?
(Laughs) It's a lot of things. It's frustrating, it's difficult, you never have enough time ... but at the same time, in the same breath, the reward is always good because when it's finished and the sequence is the best it can be, they take all the wires out from the balcony ... it turns out pretty good. But you're always up against the restrictions of time and then trying to get the right sort of things together. But I love that stuff. It's the crowd-pleasing sort of popcorn moments where they think, "Is he dead?" and there's a surprise ... it's great.
And also a lot more fun to watch than just somebody going click, click, click with this little computerized action figure, right?
Filming in Palm Beach, Florida, which had not been done for decades, you're going around one of the wealthiest communities in America with the circus of a film crew. How was that? Was that strange or fun?
I'd never been to Palm Beach, so I was pleased just to see the immense houses around there. We had a great crew of people helping us out. We were very friendly with the locals, and we seemed to get the job done. It was really nice to be down there working.
One final question, there are some 20 odd novels about Parker. If this goes well, will you be looking through the stack of them to find the next one?
(Laughs) Let's see how well this goes first.
It's to be hoped.
Yeah, it's a great privilege to play in one of them, so if we were fortunate enough to have a certain amount of success, that would be great. It's a privilege to make movies these days; so many people want to make movies, and we're in the business, so if we can keep going, that's great.
For more on "Parker," check out our video interview with the cast: