Although you won’t see Jason Statham showing off too many of his impressive martial arts moves in Liongate’s new thriller The Bank Job, which is inspired by real events from the 1971 Marylebone London bank robbery, the action star does not disappoint in the moments he does kick some serious butt.
In the film, Statham plays Terry Leather, a car dealer with a rather shady past who kept a low profile with his family until a beautiful old flame talks him into robbing Lloyds Bank with what should have been a foolproof plan. Because the friends he enlisted to help with the job were amateur crooks and the former love interest wasn’t completely honest with her true intentions, the heist doesn’t go as planned and scandal, murder and political corruption unfolds as the guys try to escape with safe deposit boxes worth millions. The boxes, however, also contain secrets the crew didn’t realize are powerful until it’s too late.
Since the actual event was only in British newspapers for a few days, details of the event were scarce, leaving the filmmakers to creatively fill in the blanks for the information they didn’t have. Fortunately for Statham, he was able to spend time with the person he portrays in the film. ComingSoon.net talked to the actor about what that experience was like.
ComingSoon.net: You’re way too young to remember this, did your parents tell you about it?
Jason Statham: They couldn’t remember much about it. They go, “Oh yeah, maybe there was something that I do remember.” But literally there was three days of exposure and then it was all like hush hush, there was a whole blanket put upon the press. So unless you were around reading the papers on those particular three days, you wouldn’t have heard much about it, you know. And it’s quite interesting. I’d never heard of a D notice until Roger [Donaldson] told me about what the implications of one of these were. I think he might have explained to you what one of those is, yeah? Not many people that I knew remember, and I certainly don’t remember, ’cause I was yah [this] big.
CS: You maintain a similar look across certain movies, is that your choice or the director’s choice?
Statham: I was trying to compensate for the lack on top, just grow a bit more hair it sort of balances everything out.
CS: The director was saying that he came across one of the real robbers, who is now about 75 years old, and he said he was really surprised to see that he looked like a 75-year-old Jason Statham.
Statham: People said, “Is that your dad?” He was walking around on set, and we were told that we were not supposed to say who he is, I think there were three of us, me, Roger and Steve, that’s the only people that knew what his job really was, or what used to be. Anyway, so people would ask me, say, “Who’s that guy that you was talking to? It’s not your dad, is it?” Literally, so it was a common feeling throughout the set that people thought I was talking to my dad.
CS: He didn’t pinch anything while he was there, did he?
Statham: I think he’d tried his hand at pinching a long time ago. Nothing to steal from a film set, bunch of cheap cameras and a few lenses, that’s it.
CS: Was he able to tell you anything that would inform your performance?
Statham: You try and pick their brains as much as possible, and you try and give them a certain amount of respect. You find yourself in a position where you don’t want to be, you know, sort of, so tell me about this, how many years did he get? And did he get nicked? What did you steal? Where are all the jewels? You don’t want to go down that line and behave like a bit of an imbecile and a bit of an idiot. So you try and make them feel comfortable about the fact that they’re even talking to you about such a thing. I think he’ll be at the premiere, it’ll be nice to see him covertly, might be in a disguise.
CS: Since you’ve become so well known for action movies with a lot of your martial arts, how important is it for you to find non-fighting movies?
Statham: It’s hard, because every time I do find a non-fighting movie, they always write a fighting scene in. So I find them and it’s like, “Oh my God, I don’t even clench my fist in this.” Next thing you know, two weeks into the movie, “Yeah, we’ve got this scene, and just hit him.” And so there’s always something that comes. [Spoiler ahead!] I think this movie always had a moment of violence towards the end because there’s so much at stake. And I think people want to see this guy get kicked on the floor and bashed. Our best mate gets killed, and he’s responsible for that, and I think it’s a good payoff. [Spoiler ends] Although I wanted to do a movie without throwing a fist or a kick or anything, I think it sort of warrants a happening at this particular time; although I’m still looking for that complete romantic comedy where I don’t hit anybody. One day.
CS: We talked to Sylvester Stallone recently and asked him what he thought of his successors and he mentioned you. How does that feel?
Statham: Did he?
CS: Well, I know what he said.
Statham: Tell me what he said.
CS: He said that Rambo could take on the Transporter.
Statham: (Big laugh) I’ve always liked Sly’s sense of humor. The fact that he’s even talking about me makes me very happy. I’ve watched his movies for years, and to think that he would even know who I was would be very cool. I love his films and I can’t wait to go and see his new one.
CS: Maybe you could fight Rocky in part 7 or 8.
Statham: Me and Rocky, huh? I’m not bad, I’m better without the gloves though. He might have to… one glove and one no glove to make both of us happy.
CS: With this movie, how much did you want to get it right from what the script was?
Statham: Well, originally Dick and Ian, Dick Clements and Ian La Frenais, they do tremendous work on British TV and in movies, and a lot of their stuff I know so well as being great comedy writing, so the script when I read it was quite a funny script, and it was very, very comical, and once Roger started doing all his research, and [finding] all these facts, the scandal side, it just took a complete turn and became this, more like, thriller. I think it was something I was quite pleased about, because I’ve made a few comedies, and even the Guy Ritchie stuff in my opinion, very sort of black comedies, and I’ve never really done anything in the tone of “The Bank Job,” something quite scandalous and a great, true story. As the weeks progressed, and we started finding out all these facts, new pages came, new scenes started to come, and it was great. It took a turn in the direction that I wanted it to.
CS: How much input did you have into the script because you were there right at the beginning?
Statham: Well I’m not particularly a great writer of stories or scenes. I was just there to express some sort of comments, if you like. I had my fair share of input but it’s not like I was at home with a pen trying to contribute in any way but I think that’s the collaboration with all actors. At the end of the day they have to try and bring to life what’s on that page. A lot of the dialogue that we tried to stay away from you know with the rhyme and slang and all the East end stuff we didn’t want to make it too English. It can start falling back along the lines of the Guy Ritchie stuff if you start giving it too much of a peppering of that kind of dialogue. A lot of the time some writers they’re writing very quickly and they think that that’s the way that these people talk. A lot of the time they don’t so you just go in there with a sieve and sort of sweep up and try to make the dialogue a bit more authentic and I think that’s a great contribution that I gave Roger. You know Roger comes from Australia. The way that we speak back in England has a certain rhythm to it so sometimes you can make the dialogue a little bit more truthful.
CS: How excited are you for “Crank 2”?
Statham: It’s hard to talk about this script because you look at “The Bank Job” [which is] a true story that is full of intrigue, surprise and deceit and “Crank” is just like from the f**king stratosphere. It is so out there, it’s so wacky, it’s so unbelievable, but at the same time it’s the Neveldine and Taylor edgy, mad filmmaking that they do so well. It’s fun. It’s entertainment. Some people think it’s sheer horse sh*t but every person that I’ve met has actually said it’s terrific. I’m sure there’s some people that don’t like it. You can’t please everybody, but there’s a lot of people that love it and I particularly love it.
The Bank Job hits theatres on Friday, March 7.