Jason Statham (/ˈsteɪθəm/ stay-thumb; born 12 September 1967) is an English actor, producer, martial artist, and former diver known for his roles in the Guy Ritchie crime films Revolver, Snatch, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He has also appeared in films such as The Italian Job, The Transporter, Death Race, Crank, The Bank Job, War, The Expendables, and The Expendables 2. He usually performs his own stage combat and stunts. Statham is noted for being typecasted in antihero roles.
Statham was born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, England, the son of Eileen (née Yates), a dancer, and Barry Statham, a street seller and lounge singer. He moved to Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where he initially chose not to follow his father's career working the local market stalls and decided to pursue the arts. He grew up with football player Vinnie Jones, alongside whom he would later go on to act. Jones introduced him to football, and Statham went on to play for the local grammar school (1978–1983), which he had attended since the age of 11, a passion that he shared with diving. He practiced daily in perfecting his diving techniques, and was a member of Britain's National Diving Squad for twelve years.
Statham's life in the media began when he was spotted by the agency Sports Promotions specialising in sports modelling while he was training at London's Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. Afterwards, he became a model for the clothing brand French Connection. A spokesperson for the high street clothing chain said: "We chose Jason because we wanted our model to look like a normal guy. His look is just right for now: very masculine and not too male-modelly." However, he was still forced to follow in his father's footsteps as a street seller to make ends meet, selling "fake perfume and jewellery on street corners" according to Statham.
While working as a model for French Connection, he was introduced to fledgling British director Guy Ritchie who was developing a film project and needed to fill the role of a street-wise con artist. After learning about Statham's past as a black market salesman, Ritchie cast him to play the role of "Bacon" in his 1998 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The movie was well received by both critics and audiences, and helped catapult Statham into the public eye. Statham's second collaboration with Ritchie came in the 2000 film Snatch, playing the role of "Turkish". Cast alongside popular actors Brad Pitt, Dennis Farina and Benicio del Toro, and with the movie earning more than $80 million in box-office revenue, Statham was able to break into Hollywood and appeared in two movies in 2001: Ghosts of Mars and The One.
Statham was offered more film roles and in 2002 was cast as the lead role of driver Frank Martin in the action movie The Transporter, in which he was responsible for his own stunts (Statham has made this choice for all of his films). He has studied Wing Chun kung fu, karate, and kickboxing. The film spawned two sequels, Transporter 2 (2005) and Transporter 3 (2008).
He also played supporting roles in Mean Machine (2002), The Italian Job (2003) (in which he played Handsome Rob), and Cellular (2004) in which he played the lead villain. In 2005, Statham was once again cast by Ritchie to star in his new project, Revolver, which was a critical and box office failure. He played a dramatic role in the independent film London in 2006. That same year he played the lead role as Chev Chelios in the action film Crank which spawned the sequel Crank: High Voltage (2009).
In 2008, Statham starred in the British crime thriller The Bank Job and Death Race, a remake of Death Race 2000 (1975). American film critic Armond White hailed Statham's ascension as the leading international action film star. On the occasion of Death Race, White championed Statham's "best track record of any contemporary movie star." Later in 2008, White praised Statham's Transporter 3 as a great example of kinetic pop art.
Statham in 2006
In 2009, Statham started to develop a new movie written by David Peoples and Janet Peoples (12 Monkeys). Statham stated "We've got a movie we're trying to do, written by David Peoples and Janet Peoples, in the vein of an old film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It’s not a remake or anything, but it's a little bit like that, about relationships and how greed contaminates the relationships these three people have. The working title is The Grabbers."
In 2010, Statham appeared alongside fellow action stars Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li and Mickey Rourke, among others in The Expendables. Statham plays Lee Christmas, a former SAS soldier and expert at close quarters combat using knives. In 2011, Statham starred in the remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson film, The Mechanic, and returned to British film in the police drama Blitz.
He also starred in the action film Killer Elite. The film was based on real events, which were the subject of Sir Ranulph Fiennes' fictional novel The Feather Men. Statham played an assassin named Danny who comes out of retirement to save an old friend, who was played by Robert De Niro. In August 2011, he began filming Parker for director Taylor Hackford; the film was released in January 2013. Statham played Parker, the criminal antihero previously played by Mel Gibson in 1999's Payback and by Lee Marvin in 1967's Point Blank (though their characters were given different surnames).
His 2012 releases were The Expendables 2, in which he reprised his character Lee Christmas, and Safe. Statham had a cameo in Fast & Furious 6 (2013). He may portray the main antagonist of Fast and Furious 7, Ian Shaw, the brother of the antagonist in Fast & Furious 6, Owen Shaw.