Jason Statham

Jason Statham on ‘The Meg’, ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ and If He’ll Ever Direct a Film

Statham shares some great stories about making ‘The Meg,’ why he loves director Jon Turteltaub, why pre-vis is so important, and more.

If you’re looking for a fun time at the movies, I’m giving a big recommendation to the giant shark movie The Meg. To tell you a bit about the story, The Meg stars Jason Statham as a former deep sea rescue diver who must face down a prehistoric shark—the Megalodon—and save a team of scientist trapped at the bottom of the ocean. The film is helmed by National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub from a script by Dean Georgaris (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life) and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber (RED). A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Gravity Pictures, the film was produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Belle Avery and Colin Wilson.

I’ve seen the film twice and it’s the type of movie you want to see on a huge screen with a big crowd – especially when the Megalodon makes its presence known…

The Meg also stars Li BingbingRainn WilsonWinston ChaoPage KennedyJessica McNameeÓlafur Darris Ólafsson, Robert TaylorSophia CaiMasi Oka and Cliff Curtis. 

With the film hitting theaters this weekend, I recently sat down with Jason Statham for an exclusive interview. During the wide-ranging conversation he talked about making The Meg, how things changed from when he first signed on to what people will see on screens, why he enjoyed working with Jon Turteltaub, if he would be down to make a sequel, memorable moments from filming, the explosion of the Asian box office, if he’s ever considered directing, and a lot more. In addition, with Statham currently prepping to make David Leitch’s Hobbs and Shaw with Dwayne Johnson, we talked about what fans can expect from the spinoff, where they’re filming, and why he’s excited to make the film.

Collider: You filmed this movie I want to say like two years ago.

JASON STATHAM: Two years ago. I want to say that. In December it will be two years ago. It will be, I think we went down there October, November, yes. We’re almost at two years.

It was a long time ago.

STATHAM: Yeah, I remember.

Obviously a lot of VFX. A lot of stuff in post-production.


But were you sort of like, “Is this movie ever going to come out?”

STATHAM: You do think that. I mean two years is a long time. Normally I’d do, I mean right now we’re just about to shoot Hobbs and Shaw. That’s coming out within six months of filming it type of thing. You know what I mean?


STATHAM: They have a date it’s out. This is quadruple the amount of time that their spending on that and that will have possibly the same amount of effects. I don’t know why this is taking so long to come out but I guess it’s one of those unanswered questions I don’t have an answer for.

I also think that the August release date is a really choice release date for this. I think that they were probably waiting for this. Just like an end of summer have fun at the movies.

STATHAM: If you don’t get it you wait until the next year?

Yes. I think they were aiming at a release date. I want to jump back in time. Often when you sign on to a movie it’s going to be one way. Then you end up being on set and the movie turns into something else. From when you signed on to what people are seeing on screen, how much changed along the way?


Yeah I kind of figure.

STATHAM: A lot. Scripts totally different. There was so many different … sometimes you just go, “How did it happen? How did it go from this to this to this to that?” You just can’t keep a track on it. I guess if you have the control to keep it a certain way you would, but you don’t. They have a movie to make. They have so many people deciding on what action stays and what scenes stay. How the characters … In the end they want to put something at the beginning. The whole thing at the beginning where I do a rescue on a sub? That was not in the script that I read. That was all brand new stuff, good or bad. I’m just letting you know.

I’ll defend that scene by saying it sets up your relationship. It’s a huge plot point in this version of the movie.

STATHAM: Yeah, but there was other stuff at the beginning that was … I’m, you know. I’m just saying it was radically different. I guess in some ways your imagination and your own perception of what it’s going to be is its worst enemy. Just because you should always try and not narrow that down and imagine what you want it to be and just go for the ride. John’s interpretation of this is a fun end of summer [movie]. It’s full of humor. It’s a little bit more directed to a different taste of what my own is in terms of I like more gory adult stuff. I’m a lot older but I can’t speak for what this film could possibly speak to a younger audience.

I might have made a film that not many people wanted to see. I’m not a filmmaker. I’m sort of an actor that’s going to portray a role. I go there but I’ve learned not to get too attached with your own idea of what something could be.

I think that what’s interesting about this film is it’s clearly more of a four-quadrant movie. This is aimed at everybody.


I’m sure you and I would love to see the hard R, gritty, holy shit shark movie. But also there’s that budget versus the return and I get it. I get why the studio wants to make a four-quadrant movie.

STATHAM: Yeah but you go, “Where’s the fucking blood?” It’s like, “There’s a shark.”

Now that I’m thinking back on it you’re right. There is some chum in the water. You’re right, but listen I think this is one of those movies where … have you seen it with a crowd?


The first time I saw it I was at Warner Brothers and there was all these interns in the room and it was like they’d never seen Jaws. They were jumping. That’s when I was like, “Oh shit this is going to be a big hit because these people are really reacting to it.” I don’t want to do spoilers but things happen that are some twists. They jumped. They were not ready for it.

STATHAM: Wow. I mean I guess that is the real test, to see it with people that aren’t biased by what they wanted it to be and the process of making it and the layers of CG and the fact that when I’m filming this there’s no shark. It’s just me in a cage. I don’t know. As an audience goer you’re spared all of that sort of things that can ruin a movie for you. I think as you’re involved in these films you get more and more critical and going, “That bit there should have spent more money on the CG. That bit there they should have made that more gory. Where’s the other bit that was in the original?”

You get very critical. What I do do is I admire John’s great sort of great spin that he’s done. He’s put this in a place which is totally unique I think. No one was expecting The Meg to be a fun sort of humorous ride of romp or whatever. You do a better description of it than myself. He’s put his very light-hearted way into it and not tried to make it like anything before. He’s trying to give it his own sort of stamp of tone. I think the trailer showed that with the Dean Martin sort of a …


STATHAM: I’m gonna say and I think hats off to him. It’s a brave thing that he’s done. I hope there’s great success for it because I love Jon Turteltaub. He’s a real sweet, funny, great person to work for.

I was going to say if this does turn into one of these box office hits are you prepared to go back into the ocean and fight even more Megs?

STATHAM: Yeah, yeah. We had such a laugh. His sense of humor is just great on and off screen. He tells a great story. He loves to laugh. Making a movie can have a lot of … You know some directors get very serious about stuff and it can be quite draining. Especially if they’re not doing great work. He makes every day a fun day. Whether the movie turns out great or bad we had a great time making it and the experience will stay with us. But I’d jump into the hot seat with John straight away. I say that with caution. I’d have to have some understanding of what it would be this time around.

I have a different kind of question. Do you think you have the skill set for directing? Is that something that you even want to contemplate?

STATHAM: Not at this time. As the body wears out I’d like to not … I love the whole process of being on a movie set and the collaboration and that. I’ve got friends that are doing amazing work now. I’ve spent a lot of years with Chad Stahelski and Dave Leach over at 87Eleven. I love working with the stunt guys. Action movies for me are my favorite thing. If I ever did take on the role of a director it would certainly be with a small budget sort of action movie that I’d like to do. Who knows? It’s a long road. Right now I’m still in a good spot but you never know. Never say never.

Completely. Were you a little bit surprised at how much fans loved the interaction with you and Dwayne Johnson in the last Fast?


STATHAM: Yeah. I love Dwayne. We’ve got a great sort of thing going. Those two characters work like oil and water. It’s the perfect combination of people. We had a couple of scenes…one particular scene that was just fucking great. I can’t talk too deeply about it because it never made the movie and I don’t know why. China got to see a part of that. This extra scene that we shot. Yeah so what happened was me and Dwayne shot this great scene.

It was for after-the-credits.

STATHAM: Yeah it was a post credit thing and it was fucking great.

I heard.

STATHAM: It was hilarious. I think that’s what got the excitement because it was a really great sort of…well written, funny, just two guys. It was just brilliant. I think that was the impetus for the studio to go, “You know what? We could do something with this. With these two characters because they’ve got a good spark together.” I think we have. We work well together. We’re good pals. It’s great to have that sort of chemistry.

I love the Fast movies. They’re a blast. One of the things I’ve found as the movies have gone on though is each movie the characters seem to become more and more of a superhero. You can hit Dwayne with a ladder and he just stands right up. I’m curious with Hobbs and Shaw is it a little bit more grounded? Or is it having the fun of the last Fast and Furious where it’s like you can hit someone with a ladder?

STATHAM: I think Dave Leach’s taste is a little more grounded and a little darker. If you see Atomic Blonde, and it is just superb, his taste is definitely in a world that is sort of less how you described it. I think he’s looking to do something that doesn’t look exactly like a Fast movie although it’s the Fast characters. He’s trying to do his own thing with it and give it a real sense of credibility. Make it less, what did you call it, lattice?

In the last one he could get hit by almost anything and just stand right up. He’s playing like a Captain America type character.

STATHAM: I think Dave is going to get this one gritty, real, and fucking hard core.

That’s another thing I want to talk about. I love David. I think he’s a very talented director and he’s especially talented at crafting action. Like the stuff he did with Chad in John Wick. What he did in Deadpool 2Atomic Blonde, that staircase sequence. He crafts great action.

STATHAM: He’s brilliant.

I completely agree so my question is have you already been preparing action for Hobbs and Shaw? What can you tease people in terms of …

STATHAM: I’ve been down the gym. I’ve been fight training. I’m about to land in London and that’s where all of the choreography is all going to start coming out. I haven’t had a taste of it yet but I know he’s thorough. He knows what we’re going to do. He never wings it. He’s got every shot down in detail before he does it. I worked with Dave many years ago. I had a fight with him on a bus in The Mechanic. He plays a bad guy. He comes in and we’re at this bus stop and I throw him out the window and he lands on the ground and gets fucking run over.

He’s a great guy. He’s a stunt man and he knows what it takes. I think the advantage he has is the way they work they do these pre-visualizations. They film everything so they know every single shot and what the best angle is to create this fucking symphony of brilliant action. I love that. Most of the guys that I’ve worked with that don’t do that just fall flat on their face when they want to do something good. They run out of time. They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know what the shots are. The cameraman doesn’t know how to shoot action so he’s missing all the fucking … He’s not panning when he should.

This guy won’t miss a single thing. He’s really efficient and he really cares about the characters. I’ve been talking to him about … my character’s got … We’re trying to build out my relationship with my sister and with my mother and what that means. What my relationship is with Idris and all these other things. He really cares a lot. He’s on the phone all the time and he’s always there and we’re trying to do something really good.

I was talking to Vanessa Kirby. She told me a few weeks ago she hadn’t officially signed on yet so I’m hoping it works out but one of the things she mentioned was that Helen Mirren was going to be in the movie. The fact that you and Helen, that’s just cool.

STATHAM: We’re trying to do something that isn’t so goofy though. I know the last time she slapped me around the face and we got this little … We don’t want to take it too seriously. I’m not the director so I’m not the one controlling the tone of the movie but we want to have some meaningful stuff in it as well as the fun. At the end of the day we want to have the laughs. We want to tear each other apart. We want to enjoy it. This has to be a ride. I guess you’ve got to have the whole package. I think Dave’s aiming for that. He wants to have the raucous laughs, the funny shit, the intense action and the great drama and the meaningful stuff. Dwayne’s got his relationship with his mother and the daughter. There’s loads of good stuff in it. I’m fucking excited.

My last question on Hobbs. I heard you guys were filming in London and Hawaii. How long are you shooting for? Is it one of these five, six month things?

STATHAM: God knows. Most of it’s in London and then there’s a portion in Hawaii that we already know about.

I want to jump backwards to The Meg. When you think back to the making of the movie what’s a day or two that you will always remember? Is there one that just really sticks out from filming the action or whatever it may be.

STATHAM: Yes. There’s a couple, you know? Getting dragged behind the boat. When I’m in The Meg’s mouth as well, there is a scene where, I can’t remember, it wasn’t executed so well but I remember the process of me being in this capsule and they were filling it. The shark teeth break the capsule. I don’t know if it’s still in the movie. I’m in the sub that moves around.

The yellow …

STATHAM: The glider. The glider. I end up in the Meg’s mouth and then the Perspex, the plexiglass top portion of the ball that moves in the glider they had to recreate me getting chomped down on and then the tooth coming through and then this capsule filling up with water. So they had to physically fill up this airtight … Well not airtight because it had a hole in it to fill up the water. This thing moved around and I was getting sloshed underwater. If you take a breath at the wrong time you just fill your lungs with water. It was a horrible day and my neck was killing me. It was just one of those things that I won’t forget. It wasn’t a big event. It wasn’t like, “Oh that’s an amazing stunt.” It was just one of those things I was like, “Fuck I can’t wait for this day to end. This is the worst day ever.” My neck. I had a muscle in the side of my neck that was just giving me so much grief. I was going, “If this day can end now I’ll give up half my fucking salary. Oh, please.” It was just one of those. On screen they’ll probably think it was all CG.

One of the things that I think they do a really good job in the movie with is that it’s clearly some practical stuff mixed in with the CG. It really is a fun ride. It really is.

STATHAM: Like I said we know what it is and we hope it does good.

I was going to say, being honest, this isn’t going to win any awards, it’s not an awards movie.

STATHAM: Surely not.

It’s a fun popcorn and soda ride.

STATHAM: It’s a great summer movie.

It’s a really fun movie.

STATHAM: August is also the time where your films do really well, Vin, too, so it’s also right that they chose that date.

They’re going to love it.

It’s going to do really well in Asia. I hope you guys are going there.

STATHAM: Yeah I think yeah we’re going there for the premier in Beijing. We were there in Shanghai recently. Bingbing’s a sweetheart, you know? We were over there. We did a couple of good things there promoting it the last time. We’re going to go again for the premiere. We think that if it’s going to do well anywhere we think …

Completely. I know I gotta go but more and more have been Asian and Hollywood co productions. The Chinese box office has now become bigger than the United States. Have you noticed this and is that something that you’re even aware of?

STATHAM: Totally aware of it, yeah. In some respects Hollywood doesn’t control rather you make a movie or not anymore. We can go and make action movies aimed … Fortunately for me, the type of movies I make are well received in China. I think The Mechanic which did no money in the US, it did 60 million over there which is relevant to a budget that only cost about 25 to make it. In that market alone, and it wasn’t a great film. It was littered with problems to try and make it look better than it was. That was a clear indication and that came out a few years ago.

Now the box office is even bigger, stronger. The type of movies I want to make have relevance over there. It doesn’t matter about the US, whether they want to make them or not. The world is so big and people love movies. They don’t just have exist in Hollywood. They don’t have to get the green light in Hollywood. We can go make them and throw them into the markets that want to see them. Which is great. It’s so good.

Frank Grillo told me he did something where he was the American bad guy and it made like a billion dollars in China. Something crazy. It was the biggest Chinese movie ever. I wish I could remember the name.

STATHAM: I’ll look it up because I know Frank.

The movie’s huge.

STATHAM: I love it. I love the fact that it’s taken the power away from Hollywood. Hollywood’s always going to be what it is but I love the fact that China has a great platform now. Movies, when they do well over there, they’re just colossal.

Do you know what you’re going to do after Hobbs and Shaw?

STATHAM: No I don’t. I don’t know what I’m going to do. There’s a few things that I’m looking at. Don’t know. I’m not committed to anything. Right now it’s too early to say. I had an interest to do this thing. Like a TV show that I’ve been developing. Don’t know if I’m going to do that anymore. Yeah, I honestly don’t know. Right now I don’t know.

If you end up doing TV, my only recommendation to you is make sure it’s not more than 10 episodes.


STATHAM: I’ll remember that. Our intentions were to do 10 episodes. It’s based on a novel. It’s a crime thing. It’s the Layer Cake author. His name’s J. J. Connolly. We were going to do it and we had a funny show around it that didn’t work out.

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