In one of the more perilous, locally shot scenes in new heist-revenge movie Parker, Jason Statham is fighting with a bad guy with a very large knife on a balcony of the Boca Raton Beach Resort. Though you know our lead guy will survive, Parker does get badly injured, and it’s tough to watch.
All part of the Hollywood horseplay for the UK-born Statham, who’s used to breaking a sweat — and a few body parts — in movies like The Expendables (No. 3 starts filming soon), Crank, and The Transporter, whose sequel filmed in Miami in 2005.
We talked to the surprisingly easygoing action star, 45, about how he does what he does from The Mandarin Oriental Miami Hotel.
It seems like you may actually have gotten hurt doing this movie. Are we wrong?
At the end of the day, we’re just foolin’ around. It’s actually a comical sort of feeling filming the violent bits. We have to give you all something exciting to see but keep ourselves safe. We had to make it look like I was going to go over that balcony. I really enjoy the big stunts. They give you a feeling of accomplishment, like you’ve lived to tell the tale. Me and [ Michael] Chiklis did bang our heads together pretty good a few times, though! We had a few bruises to take home.
How would you describe your character? As a thief with a heart of gold?
There’s a reference to Parker in the movie to him being a “rock” in that he’s unstoppable. I say he’s a regular guy who’s got a fixation on puttin’ things right. He is tough and intense and won’t stop at anything to make happen what needs to happen. There’s something interesting about playing a man who is so loyal and true to his word.
How was it working alongside director Taylor Hackford and co-stars Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, and Patti Lupone?
Nick Nolte was really something special. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m going to do a scene with a cinema legend.” A moment you’ll never forget. You don’t get to work with people like that all the time. And Taylor Hackford is such a respected director that he’s able to put such a strong cast together like that. The pairing of Patti and Jennifer as mother and daughter was absolutely brilliant, perfect.
How was it logistically working in Palm Beach? Very different from shooting “Transporter 2”?
They were really sort of accommodating in Palm Beach, but it’s not the simplest place to make a movie, with the permits and to get a crew down there. But such a beautiful place. I remember doing Transporter clearly: We shot in the summer and shut down production for three hurricanes. It was crazy, a very testing time. We’d let the storm pass, then another would come. I have great memories of the area, as a kid traveling to Miami Beach with my mom and dad annually. Going to the hotels with the big diving boards and lounging around.
What kind of shape do you have to be in for “Expendables 3?”
Not much. The preparation’s already been done over the course of the last 10 years or so. You just have to turn up! Really, though, it’s great to have this experience, making these movies with Sylvester Stallone has been a privilege.
You’ve also done other family friendly projects like “Gnomeo & Juliet.” Any chance we’ll see you in a romantic comedy one day?
Yes, I would absolutely consider that. But you have to wait for the phone call. You can’t go knocking on doors. You have to be right for the director’s vision. I like the voice work. There’s only so much pain you can sort of inflict on yourself in a sound room with a mike. A safe bet!