DVD Interview Jason Statham

“Leap Year” follows one woman’s determined quest to get married to the perfect guy, despite what fate has in store for her. When their four-year anniversary passes without a marriage proposal, Anna decides to take matters into her own hands. Investing in an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Feb. 29, Anna decides to follow her boyfriend Jeremy to Dublin and get down on one knee herself. But airplanes, weather and fate leave Anna stranded on the other side of Ireland, and she must enlist the help of handsome and surly Declan to get her across the country. As Anna and Declan bicker across the Emerald Isle, they discover that the road to love can take you to very unexpected places.

Jason Statham (‘Crank’, ‘The Italian Job’) stars as Terry in ‘The Bank Job’, based on the true life unsolved robbery of a bank in Baker Street, London Writing duo Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais adapt this 35 year old mystery which interweaves a combinations of intrigue, political scandal and danger. Movies.ie talks to Statham about Heists, Hollywood and his latest movies ‘The Bank Job’


Many people will only have vague recollections of the real bank robbery – what about you?

No-one that I have spoken to remembers very much about it. I think that is due to the D-Notice that was put in the story. So you wouldn’t know much, unless you were in London for those three days of expose that the newspapers did do before the D-Notice. But even so it was such a long time ago and the robbery only got slight publicity so it would only be a slight memory. But I think it is a great story that needed to be told. I have always wanted to do a film that was a true story and to make a thriller. Also a lot of the films that I have been doing over the last few years have been geared up for a younger audience and I wanted to do something that was a bit more adult. And director Roger Donaldson has such a great history of making films like ‘No Way Out’ and so we know what a great thriller maker he can be.


Isn’t intriguing that the guys who break into the bank are just about the nicest characters in this dark film?

Yes, that’s one of the charming aspects of it. 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 is 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 is 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 is the only way they could. I think the real crooks are the ones on the other side of the fence.


Did you get a chance to meet anyone who took part in the actual robbery?

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.


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?

I am 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 as 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.


So is it good top take another step towards showing people that you are not just an adrenalin junkie?

I am trying to break the mould. If you do too much of the same thing, the mould will be so thick that you will 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.


The film makers say that without you ‘The Bank Job’ would not have got made?

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.


Were there times when you thought ‘The Bank Job’ was never going to happen?

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 am so pleased that we actually got through it.


What are your thoughts about the Royal controversy or scandal that is in ‘The Bank Job’?

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 is not our job here. What we are trying to do is throw some light on something that took place and got pushed under the rug. It is a great story and the Royal scandal is a great aspect of it.


Is Hollywood now your home?

This is always home. I am only there because it is 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 is great to come home. I love the UK and it was great to make a film here, which is something that I have 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.


Your currently working on ‘Death Race’, is that a new version of the oldie Death Race 2000?

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 homage. In the film I got to work with Joan Allen who is great. She plays a terrible character that 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 to get parole. I am wrongly in prison and want to clear my name and win the race. It is so much fun.


‘The Bank Job’ is on DVD now.