Jason Statham goes beyond tough-guy role in "Bank Job"

Thu Mar 6, 2008 5:15pm EST
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British actor Jason Statham has come a long way since selling after-shave and cheap jewelry on London street corners. Today, he earns millions as one of the hottest action stars in Hollywood.

But when his new movie "The Bank Job" debuts in major U.S. cities on Friday, Statham's fans will see something beyond another showcase for his kick-boxing prowess and skill at driving fast cars.

"I get to play a husband and father for a change," he told Reuters. "And while it's a thriller, there's also a lot more emphasis on character and drama and intrigue than in my usual films. There's a lot going on under the surface."

Statham, 37, fell into his career as a movie action hero when British director Guy Ritchie cast him as a London lad in the cult hit caper "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

Soon after, he seized his chance in Hollywood and cemented his reputation as a reliable tough guy with box-office hits such as "The Italian Job" and "The Transporter" series.

Based on a true story, "The Bank Job" stars Statham as the leader of a low-tech gang that tunneled into a bank vault in early 1970s London. The real robbery was one of the biggest at the time, netting in excess of $15 million in today's dollars.

He shows some character depth as Terry, a car dealer looking for an easy payoff who finds bank robbery is anything but simple.

"He's talked into it by an ex-girlfriend (Saffron Burrows) only to find out that it involves the Royal Family, blackmail and (British intelligence service) MI5," explains Statham. "It all gets very murky."   Continued...

<p>Actor Jason Statham poses for a portrait while promoting his new film "The Bank Job" in New York March 3, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>