Who Is Jason Statham?
English action star Jason Statham has convincingly portrayed a host of unsavory, yet oddly endearing, tough guys (hit men, thieves, con men, assassins, super spies and bodyguards) who can generally be counted on to dish out beat downs and lead car chases while intercutting the action with a well-timed quip. But before he ever stepped foot on a movie set, Statham’s life was just as colorful as the characters he’s played onscreen. As a one-time Olympic diver, fashion model, and black-market street salesman, he amassed a unique set of skills that perfectly positioned him to be an action star.
As of 2017, Statham’s net worth is estimated to be around $40 million.
‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’
Statham had also gained some fame through less legal (though likely less embarrassing) work as a street corner con man, selling stolen jewelry and counterfeit perfume out of a briefcase.
"That was street theater," Statham said in a 2007 interview with the Chicago Tribune. "You work with a team — some people in the crowd, some guys who stand lookout for the police."
And that’s how he met filmmaker Guy Ritchie, who was intrigued by Statham's past and impressed by his modeling work. Ritchie invited him to audition for a part in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. "Guy had written a character that was the same as me,” Statham said in an interview with Esquire magazine. “And he said, 'I love it. Give me some of the patter.' At the time, I had loads of it. And he was fascinated with that, and he just wanted someone who was authentic.”
So even though Statham had no acting experience or training, Richie cast him as Bacon, one of the four primary characters engaged in a risky get-rich-quick scheme to repay a massive gambling debt.
In the director's follow-up crime comedy, ‘Snatch,’ he hired Statham to play Turkish, a smalltime hood vainly trying to break into the world of underground boxing. The role began as a small supporting part in the star-filled ensemble cast (which included Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro) but by the time the film was released in 2000, Statham had received top billing as its narrator and chief anti-hero.
'The Transporter,' 'Crank,' 'The Mechanic,' & 'The Expendables'
Luc Besson then cast Statham in the titular role of 2002’s The Transporter, about a mercenary driver for hire who will deliver anything, anywhere for the right price — until he got a package that was moving. The film was a massive hit, which established Statham as a bankable international action star; a sequel followed in 2005. Statham has also starred in the films Crank and its sequel, as well as The Mechanic and its sequel. In 2010 he joined the Sylvester Stallone and an all-star cast for The Expendables, The Expendables 2 (2012) and The Expendables 3 (2014).
'The Fast and the Furious' Franchise
In 2013, Statham joined an already established action franchise, The Fast and the Furious 6 and in 2017, reprised his role in its eighth installment, The Fate of the Furious. Since 1998 Statham has made more than 40 films, almost all of them in the action genre. Yet unlike many action stars, Statham is known for doing almost all of his own stunts. He has also advocated for having stunt performers be rewarded with their own Oscar category.
A Comic Turn in ‘Spy’
In the 2015 comedy ‘Spy,’ written and directed by Paul Feig, and starring Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law and Rose Byrne, Staham stands out as a chauvinistic English secret agent who is everything that James Bond is not. Though Feig wrote the part of surly agent Rick Ford with Statham in mind, he told Forbes.com he never thought he would accept the role. Staham concedes that he had some hesitation about it. “You never know what you’re getting into with a comedy,” Statham said in an interview with Variety. “But it helps to have a great director and Paul Feig is the Scorsese of comedy films.” Statham is set to reprise his role in the upcoming sequel, Spy 2.
Background and Early Career Ventures
Jason Statham was born on July 26, 1967 in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, to Eileen (nee Yates), a dancer, and Barry Statham, a lounge singer and salesman. He grew up with his older brother Lee and the pair would spar and practice martial arts. But Jason then focused on diving for several years. He was a member of the 1988 British Olympic Team in Seoul, Korea, and remained on the National Diving Squad for 10 years. But after a 12th-place finish in the World Championships in 1992, and a third consecutive third-place finish at the Olympic trials, he again missed the Olympic team, and gave up on that dream.
A few years later, his athletic build caught the eye of a talent agent and landed Statham a gig in an ad campaign for the European clothing retailer French Connection. An appearance in a Levi's Jeans commercial and work for Hilfiger followed and soon Statham had a modeling career. This helped him land gigs as a background dancer for The Shamen's music video for their 1993 hit, “Comin’ On,” in which he wears nothing but a pair of leopard skin underwear—and a lot of oil. One year later, he would be seen wearing silver shorts and silver body paint while backing up Erasure on their “Run to the Sun” video.
Statham and supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley began dating in 2011, and they welcomed their son, Jack Oscar, on June 24, 2017. The couple got engaged during the 2017 holiday season.
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