Jason Statham is typically known for playing the same kind of character in each film he does: a tough and rugged antihero who is more than capable of defending himself, and a man who serves out justice in a most exquisitely painful way. As a result, Statham’s latest movie Parker seems like the same kind of role for him, but this one stands out in a way many of his other films do not.
Directing it is Taylor Hackford, who previously made Ray, An Officer and a Gentleman and Dolores Claiborne, and Statham is surrounded by a very talented cast which includes Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte, Wendell Pierce and Clifton Collins, Jr. While it may seem like your usual Jason Statham action movie, the pedigree behind Parker is quite impressive.
Statham’s character in the film is a professional thief who is not the least bit remorseful about what he does, but he does have a set of rules he always follows: he never steals from those who are poor and he never hurts innocent people. The role is a perfect fit for Statham, who deals out a lot of the kick ass action his fans have come to expect, and it also shows how effective of an actor he can be.
We recently caught up with Statham at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California where the Parker press conference was taking place, and he was very excited to talk about the movie. He talked about what makes the character special, his favorite movies to watch while growing up and more.
Check it out below
We Got This Covered: How is the character of Parker different from the ones you’ve played before? What makes this character special to you?
Jason Statham: The good thing about Parker is… I played a thief before, I played a tough guy before, I played a lot of things that might have elements of what Parker has, but what makes this specifically different is that it comes from a great quality of writing. Donald Westlake wrote over 20 books about this guy and he’s a crook, he’s a criminal, he’s a thief, he does many bad things but for all right reasons. He has a redeemable quality in him and we’re forced to try to figure out what that is, but I think it’s to do with loyalty. He doesn’t steal from people who can afford it (laughs). Does that make him a good person? I don’t know. He doesn’t hurt people that don’t deserve it. There’s a moral side to him that is quite strong. At the end of the day I’m more attracted to the story of how it all unfolds.
We Got This Covered: What was the hardest thing about playing Parker for you? Was it the physical part or the emotional part?
Jason Statham: The physical aspect presents its difficulties and the emotional parts do too. They’re approached very differently. The physical stuff I’m… I feel that I’m very accomplished at that. I know what I’m doing I know how to navigate the sequences (laughs) pretty much pain free. I tend to try to rely on my experience with those things. For the drama I put all of that in the director’s hands, and we’re given good situations and I’m acting with good people so all of that kind of takes care of itself. You just have to be committed.
We Got This Covered: You do a lot of your own stunts in Parker as you have in other movies you’ve been in. What would you say was the toughest or most insane stunt that you did in the film?
Jason Statham: Jumping out of the car wasn’t easy, hanging over the balcony wasn’t too pleasurable (laughs). All that stuff, that’s the popcorn fun of the cinema. If you can have a great story that people can follow the mystery and get the suspense, and then you have those moments of tension and a splash of visual fun, then you kind of get everything. You get your money’s worth.
We Got This Covered: Was it fun to put on the priest outfit?
Jason Statham: I looked ridiculous (laughs). I put that on and said “thank God I’m bald!” It just doesn’t suit me. It was funny to see that stuff, it was very funny. I had on the glasses and a priest outfit, and we’d be at the state fair and there’s thousands and thousands of people there. I would be walking down there and I have the priest outfit on and the briefcase and they’re all “hey Jason! How’s it going?” And I’m like “really?!” People just recognized me and it was like one of those weird things. I was supposed to be in disguise! Must be the broken nose or someone must have heard me say something. Must be the accent. Good fun though, getting behind those costumes.
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We Got This Covered: What was it like building that father figure relationship with Nick Nolte? Did you two spend a lot of time together?
Jason Statham: We did. We got enough that we needed. He plays the mentor, father figure-like character, and thank God it was someone with that presence. You feel such a strength by working opposite him. First you get over the fact that it’s Nick Nolte and then you get into the character.
We Get This Covered: What was it like working with Michael Chiklis?
Jason Statham: We are both sort of renowned for having sort of a physical side, and I think that’s why Taylor put us together; the tension would be there. Are they going to clash? When are they gonna clash? Who’s gonna win? It’s going to create the tension for the audience, so it was good to roll around and sling a punch and get one thrown back. Fun and games, huh? (laughs)
We Got This Covered: Did you grow up a big fan of action movies? What were your favorite movies growing up?
Jason Statham: I’m a massive fan of action movies! But if I were to mention some of my favorite movies there’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, The Sting, I love Paul Newman, I love Clint Eastwood, and I like a lot of different movies. I do like a lot of the 70s movies. I love Charles Bronson in Hard Times. All my favorite movies where ones from yesteryear. The 70s was a good era. I love all those. My mom and dad used to tell me “you’ve got to see this film,” and they were influential to a high degree of the films I saw as a kid. It’s funny because I’m not doing the same quality of movies as them, I’d be out of line to say that, but I’m doing movies that my dad likes even now. “Yeah that was a good one son! The other one, that wasn’t so good. Make the next one better!” But it’s nice to do a good one that he likes. My mom likes them all because she’s all “you’re just brilliant!” But she would just say that if it was a piece of crap.
We Got This Covered: Did you read the Donald Westlake book Flashfire and how much did you use of it for inspiration in your portrayal of Parker?
Jason Statham: It’s hard because once you get tied into the book, and there’s things that you like in the book that don’t make it into the screenplay, you’re all “oh no, but can’t we have that?” You get into this quagmire of fighting for something that might be a good scene that I’d want to do. So Taylor said “leave the book alone. We’re making a movie and it’s gonna be inspired by the Flashfire novel and you don’t have to read it. I’m not asking you to read it. We’re going to be doing something different because we have locations that are specific to the storyline, actors that are going to come in and things are gonna change so that they can feel comfortable with what they’re doing.” So things change a lot. There’s a huge fan base of Westlake fans and I’m sure that they’re gonna love or hate what we did (laughs). There’s gonna be the haters and the lovers!
We Got This Covered: Jennifer Lopez really took a chance by taking on the role of Leslie Rogers. She’s not the lead, she’s not the romantic interest, and her character is kind of down and out. What did you take away from her stripping her persona down to play this role?
Jason Statham: Well it was really something she was always capable of. When Taylor came up to her he said “I know there is that Jennifer but I don’t want that. I want the other Jennifer.” And she said “what other Jennifer?” And he said “this one!” She’s a street girl anyway, she’s got a real down to earth sort of way about her, and I think that’s why people love her so much. She’s just real. You don’t feel like she’s putting on anything, and that’s one of the reasons why everybody likes her so much and she came with that. She wanted to do something like this; I think it was the perfect thing and she really got down and stripped away everything and it worked out great.
We Got This Covered: Would you say that you fell into the role of Parker, did you help create him, and how much of him is you?
Jason Statham: It’s all driven by the Westlake creation. He’s his own self. Westlake said he likes writing about these interesting, cunning, clever sort of criminals that are always on wrong side of the law, but they’re smart. You know, there’s nothing worse than a dumb criminal (laughs), right? They’re the worst of the worst. So you have to be cunning and smart, and you have to have a certain way in order to exact some revenge. If you are gonna come back on five or six guys, you’re gonna have to do it in a smart way. You can’t just beat them up physically, they’re all carrying guns. So you have to have a way, a smart way, of how he’s going to get close to these guys and how he’s gonna do it. Westlake’s mystery writing gives way to that so, thank God for him, you just put the suit on and away you go.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Jason very much for talking with us. Be sure to check out Parker in theatres this weekend.Previous