Jason Statham for “Crank”

With British actor Jason Statham, what you see is what you get. A born larrikin, Statham has remained unassuming and down to earth throughout his short, but accidental career. Always equipped with his own laconic sense of humour, one has the impression that the young Brit takes it all in his stride. Statham is autographing posters of his latest film, Crank, in which he plays a hired assassin who has been injected with a poison that will instantly kill him if he stops moving. Directed by a pair of first-timers, Statham admits that initially he may have had a few reservations about taking this on “especially with these two guys since they’re, they’re pretty crazy and they shoot very loosely.”

That looseness, says Statham, was reflected in the improvisational nature of the process for this film. “You know we had a script to obviously pay a certain amount of respect to, but a lot of the time we had so much extra time on our hands because shooting on the HD cameras you haven’t got to go speed, change the mag, running, speed and they just leave it running and they go, ok do it again and you go, oh fuck it I messed it up, and they go, carry on and they just leave it running.” He says that he really needed to adopt a leap of faith on this movie. “I mean initially I didn’t want to do it. I was a little bit nervous because I’ve never done it before, two guys, do they know what they’re doing? I mean I saw their show reel where it was very cool, very visual but you know we’ve got a lot of things to say, we’ve got to try and get the emotion out. It’s not a great dramatic piece but there’s a little bit there that, but you still want to know that people can listen to the right delivery and move on when it’s necessary.”

With little time to prepare and shoot, Statham says that where the empathy comes in is with the relationship between he and Amy Smart, who plays his laid back girlfriend who has no idea her boyfriend kills for a living. “That’s where the chemistry comes in with me and Amy and I suppose that’s where the acting comes in. You have to be able to believe that these two have a relationship, that opposites do attract and she’s this naive sort of person that is safe and comfortable, wanting to escape from the mad life that he leads. for me, when I signed on to do it I didn’t know until we’d had the first week of filming that we was in great hands and it was all panning out to be really cool. And then after that you just give everything up and you just go: these guys are fucking great, they know exactly what they’re doing, and they’ve got just the right amount of balance between the pair of ’em”. Statham says that it’s the film’s originality that sets it apart. “We’re doing something that’s a little bit quirky, a little bit sort of surreal and weird and it is like a video game. Yet, it’s still got likeable characters that are a little bit weird and different.”

Statham was discovered, accidentally, by Guy Ritchie, through whom the former athlete has carved a niche in action roles. He admits that films like Crank aren’t necessarily going to win plaudits from critics. “You ain’t ever gonna get an academy award for doing Crank and you certainly won’t for doing all the other movies I’ve done.” Yet there’s little doubt that with his spate of success, Statham craves more. “Oh God I’d love to do a movie that allows me to do something that is just pure drama, but it’s hard to get directors and film makers alike to take a chance on me because they kind of pigeon hole you, but I’ve got plenty emotions within me.” Yet, adds Statham, he is not feeling too frustrated “because I’m very thankful for where I am at the moment, from where I’ve come from so I’m very happy and I don’t want to think: where’s my fucking chance at the academy award and where’s my Brokeback Mountain? It doesn’t keep me awake at night but I’d love to work with Terrence Malick and do something that I can really sink my teeth into.”

So another Transporter film is out of the question. “I think a few people ask and I get a few people come up, are you doing another one we’d love to see it, but want to I put a bit of space between them.” He hopes to work on something a little different with New Zealand director Roger Donaldson. “It’s a true story, a dramatic role and we’re trying to finalise the finance and if we do get it, we’ll shoot it this side of Christmas. That could be the kind of film that we’re talking about.” As for working with Guy Ritchie, Statham says, any time. “I’d do as many as he wants because you know he’s the man who gave me a kick start, a career and I’ve got ultimate fucking thanks for that. I also happen to have the best experience working with him I mean we have a lot of fun, and we mess around.” Next up immediately, though is the new Jet Li actioner, Rogue. Asked if he’s the bad guy, Statham is not giving much away. “You’ll have to wait and see. That’s quite an interesting storey and not a typical action film. I think you’ll like that.”