Advertisement

Jason Statham Talks ‘Beekeeper,’ Sylvester Stallone, James Bond: ‘I Keep WhatsApping Barbara Broccoli’

Action star Jason Statham considers David Ayer’s “The Beekeeper,” which opens next year, as one of his buzziest movies yet.

“I can’t wait for people to see that. It’s really sophisticated and cool, full of heart and excitement,” he said Thursday at the Red Sea Film Festival. “It’s a great film. The result is obviously yet to be seen, but I’m really, really proud of the movie.”

More from Variety

The film tells the story of Adam Clay, a man who lives in the barn of an old lady (Phylicia Rashad from “The Cosby Show”), tending to his bees and burying his past. When scammers destroy the woman’s savings, Clay reveals his previous life as a former operative of a clandestine organization and uses his skills to wreak vengeance.

“The whole movie escalates in terms of the action. And it goes through an incredible, great crescendo. The whole world [of the film] has a mythology of the ‘beekeeping’ world. If we were fortunate enough to make a sequel, we have a whole world that we can dive into.”

Ayer and Statham connected so well they’re about to embark on another film together, “Levon’s Trade,” based on a script by Sylvester Stallone, adapted from the novel by Chuck Dixon. “We said, we got to do this again. And so we’re now in the process of putting together the heads of departments for this new movie that was originally conceived by Sly. He’s a great writer. Some people are not aware of his writing talents. He writes great characters. And David, an Academy Award winning writer, has tweaked the script and done a rewrite. So we’ve got a really great movie that we’re about to start.”

Statham told Variety: “Being in the film industry is always a pinch-yourself moment. If I look back at my beginnings, I don’t have an authentic transition from what I used to do into this world of glamour and big spectacle events. I’m still pinching myself after a couple of decades. The old arm is now thoroughly bruised.”

That career saw him go from low-budget British crime films to becoming one of Hollywood’s favorite tough guys. “It’s not a conscious path that I’m following,” the “Meg” star said. “It’s more instinctual. I landed on a few ladders, and you can certainly land on a few snakes. The film industry can take you up, it can take you down. I stuck to playing to my strengths. I had a physical start to my youth, developing skills in martial arts, sort of aerial awareness, and I integrated those skills into the action genre.”

Although his films are commercially successful, Statham is aware his genre is often undervalued. “Action movies are sometimes frowned upon in terms of their integrity, but around the world, people love action cinema. The more I travel, the more I can relate to the people that show me some real positivity in some of the stuff I’ve done, whereas in the award ceremonies, it’s very, very rare that the action movie even gets mentioned. I’m not bitter. I’m having a great career.”

Statham has advocated for stunt performers having their own category at the Oscars. “I was a big fan of James Bond ever since I was a kid and the spectacle they provide in terms of the car chases and the big set pieces, skiing down the mountain and pulling the parachute. These are physical stunts that take people years and years to learn, and they are putting themselves at great risk for the good of the movie. I think to not have something where they can get recognized is a massive oversight. They are incredibly talented. They work as hard as anyone I’ve ever come across within the industry. And I feel that they should have a moment. I think they are uniquely skilled and are part of some of the greatest, most exciting things we’ve ever seen in cinema.”

So, is he a fan of Bond? “I keep WhatsApping Barbara Broccoli, but she doesn’t reply,” he quipped.

Although Statham joined the ensembles of the “Fast and Furious” franchise and “The Expendables,” he’s not tempted to go the superhero route. “I don’t have a big appetite for a costume, with cape and tights,” he said with a laugh. “I like old school 80s movies. I was inspired by people like Stallone and Arnold. And even before those guys, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Eastwood. I just couldn’t see any of those guys putting on a cape, and a mask and going around on wires.”

Statham has no animus toward comic book films. “Cinema is like music. Some people like Country and Western, others like heavy metal. I’m drawn to a bit more of a grounded kind of action.” He laughed, recalling some of the crazy action sequences he’s been involved in. “Well, I like being grounded to be an element we inject into the crazy world that we’re in.”

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.