One of the biggest names in action movies, Jason Statham is something of a big-screen legend. A gorgeous British hard man, he’s got an interesting past, a huge range of talents, and a voice that would melt butter. Currently working on the next installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise, Fast and Furious 8, the star has three other films in the works: Mechanic: Resurrection, which is out next month, Viva La Madness and Meg, both of which are in pre-production at the moment.
Known for his incredible fight scenes, chase scenes, and for his amazing ability to do all of his own stunts (even when they get dangerous), Statham is rapidly becoming action royalty. But how much do you really know about this British star? Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Jason Statham.
15 His Age Is A Mystery
At least, you would be forgiven for thinking it is if you are using Google to try and figure out how old he is. Statham’s birthdate is given as 26th July, 1967 on his “locked” Wikipedia page, and (potentially as a result of this), a slew of other websites also list the actor’s birth year as ’67 – which would make the star nearly fifty years old. Even IMDb, a usually reputable database, lists his birthday as July 26th, 1967, as does the main Google search result.
However, while the day and month are correct, the year is actually wrong. Statham was born in 1972 – putting his actual age closer to forty than fifty. This has been confirmed by the star in multiple interviews, including with the New York Times, which listed his age as 34 back in 2006. He also publicly celebrated his 37th birthday in 2009 with a party at Planet Hollywood – but for some reason, the majority of websites continue to print the wrong date, adding five years to his age.
14 He Was a Competitive Diver
Eight years before Statham made his film debut in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, he was a professional diver – a far cry from his current status as an action mega-star. His love of diving started in school, and he was a member of the British National Diving Squad for over a decade. In 1990, he was a member of the British diving team competing at the Commonwealth Games, where he took part in the 1 meter and 3 meter springboard and the 10 meter platform events.
He may not have brought home any medals (he placed eight in the 1 meter, and eleventh in both the 3 and 10 meter events), but even taking part in the Commonwealth Games is a level of athletic success that most swimmers only dream of. Impressively, his looks have barely changed since his time as a diver and he’s still in incredible shape – although he’s definitely gained some muscle over the years… and lost some hair!
13 He Was A Male Model
His time as a diver was a springboard (pun very much intended!) to another career – as a male model. Statham was spotted training by Sports Promotions, an agency that specializes in sports models. Lauded for a look that wasn’t the typical “male model” style, he had a semi-successful modelling career throughout the 90s before he became an actor.
Statham did everything from catalogue modelling for sports brands (such as Adidas, Timberland and Lacoste), high street chains (like French Connection), and for global brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Levis. As part of his modelling career, he also appeared in music videos; Erasure’s "Run To The Sun", The Shamen’s “Comin’ On Strong” and The Beautiful South’s “Dream A Little Dream of Me”. With his striking good looks and bad boy charm, we’re sure that he could have stuck with modelling and made it big – but we’re thrilled that he chose to take his talents to the big screen.
12 He Also Sold Stolen Goods
Statham’s first role was as con artist in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – a case of art mirroring life, as he was supplementing his income by selling stolen goods at the time. Following in his father’s footsteps, he was hustling fake perfume and jewelry as well as a few items that “fell” off the back of a truck… not the most legal profession, but one that landed him the role.
Guy Ritchie was looking for authentic characters and fresh faces, and asked Statham to sell him some fake jewelry as an audition. Richie ended up walking away with the goods, and Statham walked away with the part! While he’s not always proud of his slightly dodgy past, Statham is always cheerful about it, jokingly saying that things “didn’t fall off a lorry, they were pushed and we caught them”, and claiming that his first role involved very little acting – seeing as he was essentially just doing his day job in front of a camera.
11 He Was In A Kit Kat Commercial
When Statham was still a fairly new face on the acting scene, he appeared in a series of TV commercials for KitKat – the chocolate bar with the slogan “Have a break. Have a KitKat”. Airing in 2003, the commercials described Statham as a “break philosopher”, a term coined by the company to describe his unique role in the campaign.
Each ad featured Statham waxing philosophical about salmon swimming upstream, a Mexican fisherman, and the relative speeds and ages of animals – all with a finishing reminder that taking a break is a very important part of living a good life. The ads are often described as his “big break” (probably because that pun is just too good to resist!), but by the time he was the face of the chocolate bar, he was already well known for his work with Guy Ritchie, as well as in The Transporter and The Italian Job.
10 He’s a Footballer and a Chess Player
More of Statham’s talents include football (aka soccer), and chess – proving that he’s far more than just a guy with a great body who can kick ass on screen. He occasionally plays for the US football club Hollywood United FC – a team founded in the 80s by Sex Pistol's guitarist Steve Jones and some of his British expat friends (all of whom were equally famous). Vinnie Jones, former international footballer and a good friend of Statham’s, also plays on the LA team – and often appears in Guy Ritchie’s films alongside him.
Statham also plays a much less physically demanding game – chess. He has a longstanding rivalry with Guy Ritchie, with the two often playing on set. According to Statham, Ritchie is no match for him, and even owes him money from past losses on the board. As well as his talents on screen, in the pool, on the pitch and over a chessboard, Statham has considerable talents in the ring as an MMA fighter and an expert kickboxer.
9 He’s A Voice Actor
Statham has an incredibly distinctive voice, which would prevent him from being the kind of voice actor who takes on ten different characters in a single show… but he has still managed to lend his voice to two video games and an animated film. In 2011’s quirky take on Shakespeare’s classic, Gnomeo and Juliet, the action star voices Tybalt – the Prince of Cats, and a stocky gnome with a penchant for damage.
It was a surprisingly cute film choice for the intimidating action star, although the movie failed to really impress the critics. He’s also lent his cockney twang to first person shooters Red Faction II and Call of Duty. In Red Faction II he voices Shrike, the vehicle expert who is a member of the resistance movement Red Faction in a dystopian future. In Call of Duty, Statham voices Sergeant Waters, a British soldier in the 2nd SAS, 3 Troop.
8 He Does Most of His Own Stunts
Statham’s hit movies are filled with incredible stunts and plenty of intense fight scenes, most of which are performed by Statham himself. He’s been quoted as saying that not doing his own stunts would feel like “cheating the audience”, and is concerned about stunts looking fake if too much CGI is used. Some of the various stunts that he’s managed to pull off have included hanging off a balcony fifty stories above the ground, and the climactic helicopter fight at the end of Crank, where he was balanced on a helicopter above LA, with only a thin wire in case he fell.
The actor’s training in martial arts stand him in good stead for the fight scenes, too, so that you know he’s always the one throwing punches and leaping out of cars. Statham has even gone as far as to criticize superhero actors who use stunt doubles, saying that it’s “embarrassing” and that “they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing”. Not everyone is as talented as you are, Jason!
7 He Nearly Died On The Expendables Set
Unsurprisingly for a man who does his own stunt work, Statham has had a few close calls over the years – more than one of which was on the set of the Expendables franchise. During filming for The Expendables 3, the actor was filming a scene that should have seen him drive a truck, stop the truck, get out, and do some shooting. Things went wrong, and the truck didn’t stop – instead, it kept right on going, over the end of the dock and into the Black Sea with Statham still inside it! Statham was unhurt, and simply swam to shore, but the truck wasn’t so lucky – it sank completely.
In The Expendables, he has another issue with the scene where he fires the plane’s nose cannons. Statham was tied to the nose of the seaplane, where he was buffeted by 30-40mph winds during the dangerous stunt. After the scene was shot, it turned out that it was even more dangerous than they expected. The plane engine had been leaking, and it could have literally fallen out of the sky! Post filming, that particular plane was turned into scrap metal.
6 He Trained With An F1 Driver – But Failed His Driving Test
Many of Statham’s roles revolve around cars – from The Transporter to the Fast and the Furious franchise. However, it seems that one of the few things Statham isn’t naturally talented at is actually driving, according to the DVLA (the British DMV). The actor started driving when he was too young to get a learner’s permit, helping his dad with long journeys. He apparently picked up some bad habits from dear old dad, however, and when it came time to actually take his test he failed. Two or three times, according to the actor himself.
Since then, he’s become an expert behind the wheel for his acting career – even training with a Formula One race car driver. He spent time with champion Damon Hill before filming the 2003 remake of The Italian Job to ensure that he was more than capable of holding his own in the car chase scenes. Even after that, he still wasn’t the best driver on set – reportedly, it was co-star Charlize Theron who out-shone the boys behind the wheel.
5 He Was (Nearly) Arrested for Joyriding… In A Golf Cart
Back in 2010, Statham had a run in with the law and a motorized vehicle… but unlike his on-screen personas, he wasn’t speeding through the streets in a high-powered car or showing off with dangerous stunts on the road. Instead, he was having a little too much fun at Coachella, and decided to take a golf cart “off road”.
The actor and his ex-girlfriend, Kristin Cavallari, partied into the wee hours of the morning at the music festival, before absconding with the golf cart and ending up on a main road. They were quickly stopped by the Palm Springs police (that can’t have been much of a dramatic chase!) and ordered to return the cart and go to their hotel rooms immediately. The actor complied, which means that not only was he nearly arrested for joyriding in a golf cart, but that a Palm Springs police officer sent Jason Statham to his room like a naughty child!
4 He Was Covered In Syrup for The Transporter
One of Statham’s best-known fight scenes from The Transporter is known as the “oil slick” fight. Taking on a ridiculous number of bad guys, his character Frank Martin has to resort to some interesting tactics. First, he gets shirtless (something to make many viewers extremely happy!) and uses his tee to take out three men at once. Then, he manages to take down another entire gang on a bus, largely because he’s just that talented, before he runs into even more bad guys in a bus depot/warehouse space.
The fight is on, and in order to win, he gets a little slippery… by dumping a vast amount of crude oil over the floor, himself and his opponents. It allows him to (literally) slip between their fingers, before snapping the pedals off a bike and using them to gain both traction and an advantage. The scene ends with Statham using the oil like a slip and slide to burst out of a window and into the water below.
It’s an incredible scene, and one made even better when you know that the “oil” was not real oil (obviously), but chocolate syrup. Clearly, he’s sweeter than he looks!
3 He Was Kicked Out Of The Playboy Mansion
Back in 2008, Statham was invited to one of Hugh Hefner’s legendary parties at the Playboy mansion: the annual Midsummer Night’s Dream extravaganza. The action star arrived in his bathrobe all ready to play… but ended his night early, escorted off the premises by no less than five security guards (we’re a little surprised that it was so few!). And the heinous behavior that got him kicked out? (It wasn’t stealing a golf cart, we’re sad to say.) Refusing to pose for photos with the girls.
It’s something of a strange, almost legendary story, and Statham hasn’t revealed exactly why he didn’t want to get his photo taken with a bevy of gorgeous girls in bunny costumes. Perhaps he was hoping to fly under the radar, and didn’t want his attendance splashed all over the tabloids. If that is the case, his photo-free plan clearly backfired, as his eviction from the mansion has since become the stuff of celeb legend.
2 A Comic Book Character Is Based On Him
A lesser known Spider-Man villain by the name of Vulture, to be precise. The character is a bird-inspired villain who uses his powers of flight, super strength, and high-level intelligence to battle the human Spider. His powers aren’t natural, instead, they are courtesy of a mechanical wing harness that he created.
Although the original version of the character first appeared in the 60s, before Statham was born, the action star was the inspiration for the Vulture artwork in the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series. Comic writer Brian Michael Bendis requested that artist Mark Bagley draw their version of the character resembling Statham, and although it is far from a direct cameo, the inspiration is clearly visible in the artwork. Although fans have since hoped to see Statham don the winged suit on screen, it’s unlikely that the action star would want to join the MCU – although with Spider-Man finally back in the Marvel family, stranger things have happened…
1 He Met With Marvel – But It Didn’t Go Well
It seems as though every celebrity is getting in on the superhero game these days, but Jason Statham isn’t just unlikely to appear as Vulture… he’s probably not going to be playing any caped hero or masked villain in future. Last year, Statham was rumored to be “deep in talks” with Marvel to join the comic book giant’s darkest offering – the Netflix series Daredevil. Rumors around town had Statham tipped to play one of the Man Without Fear’s best-known nemeses, Bullseye. It would have been incredible to see, but Statham dropped out of talks, and the character never showed up in the second season of the hit show.
There was no official explanation for this disappointing turn of events, but it may have something to do with Statham’s public disdain for the superhero genre’s reliance on CGI and stunt doubles. Famous for doing all of his own stunts, the actor has slammed superhero actors – and after he dropped out of talks with Marvel, he famously said that “I could take my grandma, put her in a cape, put her on a green screen and they’ll have stunt doubles come in and do all the action. Anybody could do it.” Looks like he’ll be sticking to characters whose suits are tailored, not spandex!
Do you know of any other interesting facts about the Stath? Let us know in the comments!