The Bank Job - Jason Statham interview
Compiled by Jack Foley
JASON Statham talks about the allure of playing a ‘good villain’ in The Bank Job, the research he carried out and taking the first steps away from his action man persona.
He also discusses the Royal controversy surrounding the film, moving to Hollywood and what he misses about Britain and his forthcoming role in Death Race.
Q: Isn’t intriguing that the guys who break into the bank are just about the nicest characters in this dark film?
Jason Statham: Yes, that’s one of the charming aspects of. We know that these guys are doing something that they really shouldn’t be doing but in the scale of things who is really at fault? Who is doing the worst thing here? There’s the manipulation of a girl to make these guys put themselves in such a vulnerable position that they would screw up their family lives and be in prison. It’s all about temptation and we all know that when your back is up against the wall that temptation is a very magnetic thing. They have the chance to escape that pressure and give themselves a better life and you can see why people would do it. And they were not going in with guns, they were not threatening anyone, they were not violent. They were robbing a safety deposit vault in which most of the contents were ill-gotten gains that people could not report if they were stolen. So, who was harmed? If you had to justify it, I suppose that’s the only way they could. I think the real crooks are the ones on the other side of the fence.
Q: Did you get a chance to meet anyone who took part in the actual robbery?
Jason Statham: I did, yes. To meet one of the real life bank robbers and have him on the set was amazing. No one apart from Steve, the producer, and director Roger Donaldson and me knew who he was. No one else knew. He looked rather similar to me and I was asked if that was my dad. So I said yes, to protect his identity. But he came to the set a couple of times and I think Roger and Steve had a bit more time with him. Whatever short time I had with him was just priceless. It was great to hear some of the stories and the feelings that they had when they were inside the bank vault and when they were tunnelling and the pressure they felt. That was quite unique.
Q: Was one of the appeals about doing The Bank Job that it was not as physically demanding a role as some that you have tackled?
Jason Statham: I’m still nursing the pain from all those years of doing those action movies. To do something where I could go home and not take a pain killer was a relief. It was also good not to have to endure such a regime of physical preparation. It was more about getting under the skin of the man… a family man and essentially a good guy. During the course of the film he has to try and keep so many balls in the air… he has to try and negotiate deals with MI5, in a game of chess and bluff, while he has to contend with his best friend being taken hostage and how they get out of the mess they find themselves in. As we start guessing how the film is going to end it becomes very suspenseful and I think Roger [Donaldson] did a great job.
Q: So, is it good top take another step towards showing people that you are not just an adrenalin junkie?
Jason Statham: I’m trying to break the mould. If you do too many, the mould will be so thick that you’ll never escape it. That’s not what I want. But at the same time doing films like Crank and Transporter – which are great entertainment with a global appeal – made it possible to do a film like The Bank Job.
Q: The filmmakers say that without you The Bank Job would not have got made?
Jason Statham: The funny thing is that we wanted to make this film so many years ago and we did not have the rights to it. We could raise the finance but there were too many fingers holding on to it. A few years passed and we wondered what was happening with Baker Street – which was what it was then titled – so we did some investigating. We discovered that in six or nine months we might be able to purchase the rights. So we waited and then we bought the rights. So, the film was in our hands and we raised the finance, met with Roger Donaldson and he loved it. So, it finally came together and it was a great reward after all those years.
Q: Were there times when you thought The Bank Job was never going to happen?
Jason Statham: Oh yeah, I thought that more times than I actually believed that it would happen. I still did not believe it was going to happen until I was in London and the pre-production was starting to take place. Even then, I thought that at any moment this could all crumble. So, I’m so pleased that we actually got through it.
Q: What are your thoughts about the Royal controversy or scandal that’s in The Bank Job?
Jason Statham: I think that sort of thing certainly travels to the USA. They love that. So I think we have a chance of capturing some interest out there now as well. But we have had to be quite respectful. We don’t want to upset or intimidate the wrong people – that’s not our job here. What we’re trying to do is throw some light on something that took place and got pushed under the rug. It’s a great story and the Royal scandal is a great aspect of it.
Q: Is Hollywood now your home?
Jason Statham: This is always home. I’m only there because it’s a practical thing. They keep me busy, a lot of the meetings are out there – I met Roger Donaldson in the States. So if you want to immerse yourself in that world then Hollywood is where I have to be right now. But it’s great to come home. I love the UK and it was great to make a film here, which is something that I’ve not done for a while. It was good to have a British crew. It was like the old rugby or football team getting back together. It was good.
Q: When you are living in Hollywood what sort of thing do you miss from home?
Jason Statham: Just the company – my friends. Recently, I filmed Death Race and when I finished I realised that I had not had a drink for five months, so I brought out two friends – two great lads that I’ve known for years – and I took them to Las Vegas and we had a great time. I miss my pals.
Q: So is Death Race a new version of the oldie Death Race 2000?
Jason Statham: Sort of… I may have seen the original film but I certainly couldn’t remember it. The director, Paul Anderson, asked me not to watch it when I had said I might do that to refresh my memory. He said it was not a remake but an homage. In the film I got to work with Joan Allen, who is great. She plays a terrible character who runs a prison where the inmates build their own cars that are armour-plated with machine guns and ejector seats and napalm. They take part in a race to the death and if you win five races you get parole. I’m wrongly in prison and want to clear my name and win the race. It’s so much fun.