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Jason Statham on Homefront, Loving Miami and Expendables Testosterone

Jason Statham, James Franco and Winona Ryder in Homefront
Jason Statham, James Franco and Winona Ryder in Homefront
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Whether he's sliding around shirtless in motor oil, taking down 20 bad guys with a fire hose, or rolling down a car windshield with a dude's head -- you can count on Jason Statham to be kicking ass in each and every one of his adrenaline-fueled flicks. He's the ultimate antihero, and nobody does badass like him.

On screen he's glowering, humorless and intimidating. He's the guy you don't wanna mess with -- the Chuck Norris of the 2000's. In person, he's unassuming, charming -- and, um, giggly? With a quirky British accent and the most contagious laugh ever, he's hardly what you'd imagine.

In his new flick, Homefront (opening on Thanksgiving), he plays a retired DEA agent who goes up against a small-time meth cooker, played by the ever-enigmatic James Franco. Kate Bosworth and Winona Rider also take memorable turns. The action-packed thriller opens on Thanksgiving Day, so we spoke to Statham about loving Miami, his bromance with Sylvester Stallone, and how he stays in ass-kicking shape.

Cultist: So how's Miami treating you?

Jason Statham: I love Miami. I spend a lot of time here. I made a movie here called Transporter 2. I was laughing because I stayed at the Shore Club, probably the maddest idea that anyone had. Going to this booming hotel that's just like a party hotel and trying to go to bed and get a good night's sleep on a Friday night just wasn't possible.

The biker look, at the beginning of Homefront. The long hair. Ever thought about changing the hairdo?

[Laughs] I just don't think it's a good suit for me.

So Sylvester Stallone adapted this movie for the screen, and I heard he originally planned to star in it himself. Is that the story?

He wrote it I think in 2008, quite awhile ago. It had sort of been sitting around. He was going to do it at some point and it was going to be the last installment of Rambo, but things have changed for him. Things move around and you have different goals and ideas, and rather than it just sitting there and gathering dust ...

We have a really good relationship. I love what he does as a writer and as a director, and as an actor too. I have such great respect for him. He said, 'I've got this script." I read it and I was just begging him, "please let me do it." And he said, 'I've got to adapt it for you.' So I bugged him enough so that eventually he let me do it. [Laughs] It was great, and I really love the story. I've never played a dad and I thought it'd be something different for me.

Yeah, one of the things I thought was really cool about this movie is that it seemed like something different for all of the actors.

Exactly. I mean, Kate Bosworth, how good was she? I was like, 'Who the fuck is that?' [Laughs] Yeah she was great. And James Franco is great. Even Izabela [Vidovic], the girl that plays Maddie, she's hardly done anything. She had us in tears. She did an audition and she was, like, crying in the audition. She had to do the scene where she talks about how she misses her mom -- she really just killed us all.

I heard you learned how to ride a horse. You also worked with a kitten.

Well I don't know how much rehearsal you need for that [laughs]. But the horse riding, I took that seriously.

It's a workout!

It is. You know what, they're amazing, those things. They're such a great animal. They're really smart, and once you get confident -- it's just a brilliant thing to do. I'm like, 'Oh My God, look what I'm missing.' It was really cool.

Speaking of workouts, all your movies are action flicks, so you probably don't have the chance to get out of shape too often. What's your regimen? This is Miami so fitness is everything.

You know, I'm living in Los Angeles and everyone wants to know, what do you do? What do you eat? I think there's more appropriate people to ask than myself. [Laughs] I'm like a harpie, I get really strict and then I get really lazy and then I get really strict again. I don't really have a consistent sort of way. I'm always dealing with injuries, so I adapt my workouts to what needs to heal. My knee injury, that's moved around a lot; my shoulder. I've had an education for many years. I used to be an athlete so I know what you need to put into your body in terms of food and what you shouldn't, and I think everybody does. But it's applying that strict approach -- it's having some discipline. It's being focused. Everyone really does understand. There's enough information out there and it's basically saying the same thing. So you know what to do, it's just the application of it.

I think one of the things about your movies are the scenes, like the gas station scene, where you just get ambushed and you just kick everybody's ass and it's amazing. In real life, if something happened - if some old lady got mugged or something, do you think you'd react that way? I mean, after doing it for so long?

I'd like to think, I'd love to say I'd be that efficient [laughs]. I think if someone was really in jeopardy, an old lady or something like that, I think I would, I think I'd jump in. Damn right. I certainly wouldn't let that happen in front of my eyes. No way.

So, The Expendables -- which is my favorite franchise of all time, by the way.

Ok, I love that.

You and all those guys - is it ever just too much testosterone? I mean, that's a lot of men.

You know, this time around, it was even bigger than the last time. We had a helicopter that we were all stuffed into, and in this helicopter was Harrison Ford, Arnold, Jet Li, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Terry Cruz, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren. Sly wasn't because he was running ... he was the last one to get onto the helicopter. But if you look back, there was Arnold with like, this cigar going, 'Run for the chopper!' It was so funny. You couldn't get any more people in there. You've got a few newcomers as well. This whole thing was just jam-packed with recognizable faces.

I love that concept. And since you do your own stunts, do you see yourself still doing them when you're in your 70s or late 60s?

[laughs] I'd love to, I'd never want to hang up the hat ... I think the audience are the people that determine how long you've got in terms of a career, so if you can still make decent films and people aren't going, 'Oh no, you're doing the same thing again.' If people don't get bored with what you're doing and you get to do good stuff, I think you can go on for a long, long time. Well, unless the body gives out.

Seems like there's almost -- I don't want to say an aging of Hollywood, but it seems like people are wanting to see older stars, people they remember from their lives.

You look at Sylvester Stallone, they're like the epitome of what a man really is ... they're the real tough guys. I mean, you've seen him in Rambo, you've seen him in Rocky. He's like a real dude, you know. It's great to see someone like that. He is the hero, he can save the day, you believe he can save the day. Against all the odds, he's the man that can bring it home. So you need someone like that, and I think no one's done it as good as those guys. Nowadays I just don't think there's a supply of people that you go, 'He could really be that guy -- he could really deal with that situation.'

The Fast and the Furious 7. You and Vin Diesel and the Rock in one movie ... I don't think women can handle it.

[Laughs] I was working with the Rock yesterday. He's such a cool dude. I was a bit in awe, he's a living sort of specimen of like, pure hard work, focus, determination, sacrifice. He's just so dedicated to what he does. He's so down to earth, so real. We just had like four days together, it was brilliant. It was really, really cool. Vin's been terrific. Haven't done too much stuff with Vin yet. We did a little scene which was great. I'm just so excited to be in this franchise.

Can you tell us anything about the new installment? I know you're sort of pegged as a villain.

I'm going to keep it quiet for now because the studio insists that we don't discuss what I'm getting up to or who I'm bumping into. It's all a bit hush hush because that's how they like it.

Well the three of you, that's quite a group. That's a lot of hot, strong men.

[Laughs] That's a lot of bald heads.

Is there anyone that you'd really love to do a fight scene with that you haven't yet?

You know who else is on the movie who's really cool, Tony Jaa, a guy from Thailand who's one of the greatest stuntmen and actors ever. He's just phenomenal. He did Ong Bark, the Protector. I got to hang about with him, I'd love to do a fight scene with him. He's great. And I'm not going to tell you what's happening in Fast 7, but you might see me fight a couple of people that you might be kind of surprised about [laughs].

You do all your own stunts. Have you ever regretted that you choose to do that?

I don't think I've ever regretted doing what I do. It's not like I'm doing high speed, head-on car collisions and going, 'Oh my God why am I doing this?' I'm doing really great sophisticated stuff that requires a lot of skill and you get to learn that with great stunt teams. It's more thrilling than it is like, 'Oh my God this is crazy.' You're learning stuff. One of the most enjoyable parts about making an action movie is the action. I have a great admiration for stunt men -- I always wanted to be a stunt man, years and years ago. They're so real and they're so unaffected and they're so unpretentious. There's certain elements of the movie industry that are quite pretentious at times, and the stunt men -- I haven't met a single stunt man or stunt lady that has one iota of a pretense. They're just really cool people and I've always loved that aspect of the action movies. So to be in and working with that sort of crew is my favorite part.

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