Sharing memories of the shoot from the movie ‘Wrath of Man’, actor Jason Statham says it was “a bunch of lads running around spitting out this incredible dialogue in a crime caper that turned out to be a big smash in the UK”. He says: “I think they were the best six weeks I have ever had!”
In India, Lionsgate will release ‘Wrath of Man’ in theatres subjected to Covid-19 guidelines.
Excerpts from his interview:
Q: How does it feel to be working with Guy Ritchie again?
A: It’s the greatest thing in the world! We have both come a long way since we started working together over 20 years ago. And what you really want to do in a situation like this is see if anything has changed, but the truth is that it hasn’t. I fell in love with this profession thanks to a lottery ticket that Guy handed me called ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’.
Q: What are your memories of that shoot, which marked your debut on the big screen and Guy’s first movie behind the camera?
A: It was a bunch of lads running around spitting out this incredible dialogue in a crime caper that turned out to be a big smash in the UK. I think they were the best six weeks I have ever had!
Q: And here you are, more than 20 years later, working on another Guy Ritchie movie: ‘Wrath of Man’. How do you see H, the character you play?
A: I see him as a complicated guy who above everything is a father. And even though I became one quite late in the game, I feel everything rotates around that in my life. So, to have it removed is an unimaginable sort of horror to deal with, which can spiral an obsession into trying to find the culprit.
Q: He is a mysterious man.
A: Yes, and I think that is necessary for the interest of the story. So, it’s better not to know too much about him for the plot to unfold. That aspect about him makes the role very internal, and especially when he goes for a job in the cash truck business. My character has to keep his cards very close to not let anyone know who he really is or what he is capable of doing. And I quite like playing a mysterious character like that.
Q: So, ‘Wrath of Man’ is much more than just an action movie, as the dramatic component to it is quite significant.
A: It gets very dramatic because of the stakes at hand. H is forced to play people a certain way to figure out whom they really are, but in the end someone is going to pay a price.
Q: And would you say that being a father has helped you understand this man?
A: Oh yes! And then you wonder how you would have to come back from losing a son or a daughter, as it seems unimaginable. These are conversations I had with Guy regarding my character.
Q: What else did you do to prepare the role?
A: When I work with Guy I try not to get too ahead of him, which would be impossible anyway, because he has the whole movie in his mind. So I didn’t meet people who worked at cash truck companies or anything like that precisely because my character is not too proficient at his job.
Q: And when it comes to the action, the film also feels very real and gritty.
A: Yes, Guy wanted to keep this very real and not have me do cool and slick movements. And his way of achieving that is with an on-the-day type of organic approach, where you kind of get into the space and figure out what the character is going to do in the specific situation he is in as the tension builds.
Q: What does it feel like to shoot a movie this way?
A: Like a breath of fresh air! And in hindsight I believe it helps create the sense of realism we are after. I think it’s very hard for a director to provide that nowadays, unless you are so confident that you know exactly what you want to capture through the lenses of the camera; but Guy does.
Q: And is there any room for humour?
A: Well, we are trying to avoid it because it’s quite a dark story. But Guy is so good at humour that it is almost impossible for him not to write interesting and funny dialogue, which means he will probably be incapable of not letting some humour into the movie.
Q: Your character reminds us of those down-to-earth antiheroes from the 70’s.
A: I think Guy likes to write characters like that. I remember when we were shooting our first movie together and he pulled me into his room and told me to stop acting and just focus on saying my words. He just has this real way of getting out of you all the bad habits that actors can have. So, sometimes you feel you are not doing much, but it’s what he wants. And it’s a great thing to do when you have just come out of doing a 250 million dollar movie like the one I just shot with Dwayne Johnson, where everything is so big.
Q: Do you like mixing it up then in your career?
A: Yes, because ‘Wrath of Man’ is the complete polar opposite of that film, and I am portraying a very real internal guy.
Q: And what can you say of Holt McCallany, who stars opposite you as Bullet.
A: I think Holt has pulled this movie together better than any of us, and especially considering that sometimes he gets dialogue only a few minutes before we say it. But he is certainly more verbal than anybody else, and he never drops a line. Holt is a tremendous actor, and he is so good in this likeable character he plays. Actually, to be honest, I think Bullet is my favorite character in the story.
Q: What should we expect from ‘Wrath of Man’ then?
A: “I think you are going to get a very stylish tense type of movie that will keep you guessing. And, whether you like it or not, I am sure it will be memorable, because Guy isn’t capable of making one that isn’t.”
Q: So, your mind is already made up if Guy Ritchie knocks on your door again to offer you another role, right?
A: If all I did for the rest of my career is work for Guy Ritchie, I would be a very happy man.