You’ve probably gotten used to a certain image of Jason Statham over the years. Statham is certainly known for a specific range of acting. And observers and critics have been all too happy to point out the regularity in his thriller roles–seemingly without recognizing the regularity of their own voices.
Still, it’s undeniable that Statham has a sweet spot that he tends to stick to, as evidenced by Crank, The Meg, London, The Transporter, The Transporter 2, The Expendables, The Expendables 2, The Expendables 3, The Mechanic, Mechanic: Resurrection, Fast & Furious 6, Fast & Furious 7, The Fate of the Furious, the upcoming Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, The Bank Job, The Italian Job, Biltz, Death Race, Hummingbird–you get the picture. But the actor behind these roles might not be the man you thought he was.
Here are 7 facts about Jason Statham that should help set the record straight. Oh, and to get the basics out of the way. He’s 5’10”, and was born in 1967, making him 51 at time of publication. He and partner Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (of Mad Max, Transformers 3, and Victoria’s Secret fame) have been together since 2010 and have one child, Jack Oscar, born in 2017. So that makes Statham everything below, and a dad.
1. Statham was a music video dancer before he was an actor, and he made… this.
How’s that for range, The Guardian?
Before Statham was Hollywood’s box office hit, he got by as a model and, yes, thankfully, a music video dancer for The Shamen’s “Comin’ On.” This miracle of the internet alone puts to bed the notion that Jason Statham is a one-trick pony, but we’ve got plenty more facts to come.
2. Statham doesn’t actually like most of his movies all that much, either.
In a revealing interview with Esquire, Statham opens up about how he feels about his movies. First, he lists the standouts: his Guy Ritchie films (Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), The Bank Job, Crank–all modern day classics with undeniable style.
“And the rest,” he says in the interview, “is shite.”
We’re sure anyone reading who managed to sit through In the name of the King or will certainly empathize with him on this. So, why not be more selective with his roles, then?
3. He’s been broke, “So when there’s finally money coming in, it’s hard to say, ‘I’m too good for that.’”
In the same interview, Statham chalks up the bulk of the negative criticism surrounding his movies to work ethic. It’s a surprisingly convincing argument:
“Make hay while the sun shines. When you’re kicking around and you ain’t got no money, that don’t feel too good. So when there’s finally money coming in, it’s hard to say, ‘I’m too good for that.’”
Who can’t understand that? He continues:
“But have I taken on too many jobs? Probably. Look, you never intend for anything to go badly. There’s so many fucking moving parts.”
4. He’s a Chatty Cathy.
If that last quote makes Statham sound a bit long-winded, it’s because he is. Several interviewers have noted that the actor can’t seem to keep quiet, not that we mind. It’s also rare to hear that about someone born in Derbyshire, England.
What’s more, he tends to fill the air with personal philosophies and lessons on the self, which one interviewer noted “stinks of truth. Not the truth. Not core truths, necessarily. A truth. Shit his father taught him.”
It’s funny, then that Statham’s main competition is the one and only Dwayne Johnson when Statham himself comes across as more of a McConaughey-type.
5. He sold knock-offs to get by.
Before he was an actor in The Fast and The Furious franchise (and the new Fast & Furious spin-off), even before he danced in a leopard print speedo for The Shamen, Statham was the son of a man called “Nogger.” Nogger and his friends Peckhead Pete, Mickey Drippin and Colin the Dog taught Statham the ways of the hustle, which he put to good use selling knock-off jewelry.
It’s a fascinating origin story, to say the least. And the story definitely doesn’t end here. Statham has discussed in the past how he used his ill-gotten gains to fund his athletic passion. Before he was an actor in The Fast and The Furious franchise (and the new Fast & Furious spin-off), even before he danced in a leopard print speedo for The Shamen, Statham was the son of a man called “Nogger.” Nogger and his friends Peckhead Pete, Mickey Drippin and Colin the Dog taught Statham the ways of the hustle, which he put to good use selling knock-off jewelry.
It’s a fascinating origin story, to say the least. And the story definitely doesn’t end here. Statham has discussed in the past how he used his ill-gotten gains to fund his athletic passion.
6. He was a competitive diver for 12 years.
Talk about high voltage. Sometime between attending The School of Hard Knocks and making music videos (and then movies), Statham was a professional diver on the British national diving team. For twelve damn years. The man is a mean machine in the water.
7. He was the first British action hero.
For Americans, it might be surprising to hear someone call Jason Statham a trailblazing actor in light of the number of action heroes we’ve had over the last century of American film: Jet Li, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.
For a long time, British actors had a difficult time breaking into the realm of the action star. Jason Statham, on the other hand, has racked up almost 50 performances, mostly as lead men in action films. His martial arts skills certainly help, and finally, Englanders have a hero on the homefront. Along with Idris Elba, of course.
In 2014, Statham’s persona came to head, a handsomely bald and critically acclaimed one, when he played a hilariously self-aware parody of his action roles for Paul Feig’s and Melissa McCarthy’s Spy. In doing so, he successfully turned the tables on articles like this one, and the statement was loud and clear: at least I know I’m repetitive.
Really, though, if you look at his life, you’ll see that Statham has really been anything but predictable. Actor, stuntman, speedo dancer, knock-off jewelry salesman, professional diver: Jason Statham, everybody.