Parker: Jason Statham on Tackling Literary Action Hero

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Jason Statham is back kicking butt, as seen in the Parker trailer. This time out, the U.K. born action hero is in Parker, based on a blockbuster book series. The character of Parker, a crook with a conscience, stems from the pages of author Donald E. Westlake and his twenty-something novels about the man of action. The veteran action star hooked up with an Oscar-nominated director for Parker known more for character stories than thrillers, Taylor Hackford.

Parker Jason Statham

Movie Fanatic caught up with Statham as he dished working with his surprising co-star Jennifer Lopez, what Hackford brought to the action genre and even gives us an update on those The Expendables 3 rumors.

Movie Fanatic: One of the most thrilling action sequences in Parker is when your crew turns on you and there’s five of you in the van that you eventually jump out the window at 60 miles an hour…

Jason Statham: It was very claustrophobic! There’s not a lot of places to put a camera. Again, we’re dealing with, “How can we make this believable?” We grab the gun. It’s not like this guy’s going to shoot his friend’s ear off. So, you have to grab the gun and pull it, which makes him pull the trigger. You have to get the details right. While I’m doing that, somebody else is trying to turn a gun on me… you have to play this whole thing through. Then obviously, I have to jump out a window [laughs].

Movie Fanatic: One of those guys in the car is Michael Chiklis. How does he fare compared to other movie foes you’ve had?

Jason Statham: He’s a really experienced actor. Michael Chiklis has been in The Shield. No one knows how to rough someone up better than him. So we know what’s coming. You get to relax more when you’re in the company of experienced people.

Movie Fanatic: What’s it like working with a director in Taylor Hackford who hasn’t done action before?

Jason Statham: He’s so driven by everything being authentic and believable. He gave me a chance to do something that I don’t normally do. I get to play a more realistic chap that isn’t the guy that can take on ten guys. He was instrumental in pushing this guy to barely make it through these action sequences and just survive enough to be able to get to the next part. I have to take my hat off to Taylor. The execution of the physical stuff is something I know very much about, so rest assured, I can say, “Look, this is going to be easy if we do it this way.” It’s a great collaboration.

Jason Statham in Parker

Movie Fanatic: How was trying to nail a Texas accent?

Jason Statham: You know what? When he’s doing the Texan accent, he’s playing a guy from Texas because he’s posing in disguise in order to get some information. I think it’s just one of the characteristics of Parker which is he’s cunning. He’s very pragmatic and he’ll do what it takes to get what he needs.

Movie Fanatic: Did you have any accent coaching?

Jason Statham: Taylor was my accent coach. So, if it’s bad, you can tell him [laughs].

Movie Fanatic: How much did you look back at Westlake’s books for reference, given that he’s got such a passionate following?

Jason Statham: I just stuck to the script because at the end of the day, Taylor has an interpretation to make. He will guide us through the story. We just have to go with the vision of the director. When Jennifer (Lopez) comes in, she’s got things she wants to say and things about the character that she wants to bring or take away. Everyone has their fingers into the pie.

Movie Fanatic: Speaking of Jennifer, your pairings are greatly expanding of late. Recently, you did Killer Elite with Robert De Niro, and now you’re with Jennifer Lopez. How was J. Lo?

Jason Statham: We’d go and light the house on fire. It was just fun from the get go. When I meet somebody, it doesn’t matter who they are. I don’t have any preconceived ideas about who they are. I don’t listen to all the crap that comes with it. She was as sweet as they could ever be. She’s just a bundle of fun. We had great chemistry. We had a great time doing the job. The relationship between Parker and the character that Jennifer played was good because it was trying to be sexual. It wasn’t. Never could it get there. There was a lot of tension there. It was nice to play with that because she’s so playful anyway.

Jennifer Lopez and Jason Statham in Parker

Movie Fanatic: And Nick Nolte played a surrogate father to you…

Jason Statham: He’s a legend! Nolte is the man. When you get to work with Nolte on the day, it’s a good day.

Movie Fanatic: What did you like about playing Parker, as opposed to other action heroes you’ve played before?

Jason Statham: Well, I like crime thrillers. I like heist movies. I like action movies that set all those elements into one and a chance to do something that comes from a great stable of writing. Donald Westlake has written countless books about this chap, over 20. Sixty books in total he wrote in his career so this guy knows how to write. And so, I’m getting to do an action movie with all the greatness of a storyteller like Donald Westlake.

Movie Fanatic: Has Sylvester Stallone talked to you at all about Expendables 3 and the casting?

Jason Statham: He hasn’t said anything but I hear rumors. I should never go with rumors because they’re often not correct, but I hear Jackie Chan might be coming to the party and that would make me very happy because I do like Jackie Chan.

Movie Fanatic: Any other action stars you’d like to see joining The Expendables franchise?

Jason Statham: I like Jackie because I’ve been a fan of Jackie’s forever. He’s broken every bone in his body for his commitment and dedication to doing his own stunts. So he’s the real deal. He is the real deal. He’s my favorite. I like Clint Eastwood as well. Steven Seagal would be great. I would put him in there.

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