Jason Statham may be the guy men want to be, and women dream of being with, but if he knows this, he’s certainly not showing it.
“All this information is new. I don’t get a letter under the door saying, ‘Men want to be you, and women want to be with you’,” says the British actor, laughing.
“I always think women want to be with Ryan Gosling. But if they want someone who can protect them? That I can do, darlin’,” he adds with a cheeky wink.
The Derbyshire-born actor has a reputation for being a tricky interviewee, famously clamming up when it comes to talking about his private life. Unsurprisingly, personal questions are off-limits today, especially his three-year relationship with British model-actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who he now lives with in Los Angeles.
Statham admits he’s a bit wary of the press, following his former high-profile romance with Kelly Brook.
“I’ve had good interviews and I’ve had bad ones,” he says, apologising for his language as the Hollywood hardman litters our chat with swear words.
“People are either really stupid, or really nice. Some people are really pleased to be working in an industry where you can review films, and others just want to dig up a load of [stuff] about you, and that’s not going to work with me.”
With his shaved head, icy stare, straight-talking Cockney accent and ability to do his own stunts, the 45-year-old former diver has become one of the UK’s hottest exports since being picked by Guy Ritchie to star in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels in 1998. He has since carved out a career playing tough guys in action movies such as The Expendables, The Transporter and Snatch.
“I really do enjoy kicking butt, because it’s expressive,” he says.
Statham’s latest film role in Steven Knight’s action drama Hummingbird sees him playing Joey Jones – a former Special Forces soldier who is forced to resort to drastic measures in order to survive on the streets. He strikes up an unlikely friendship with a nun, played by Polish actress Agata Buzek.
“I make a lot of films that don’t have much depth to them – they’re more like popcorn movies. I’ve been hungry for something like this for some time, where I can show more emotion. When this came my way, I jumped up and down,” he says.
“This is not a stunt extravaganza, believe me. It’s a really sweet story about a man who shares a dark secret with someone completely different.
“He’s not looking for forgiveness, he’s not looking for a shoulder to cry on, but he meets someone from a place where you’d never think these two people would have a connection. There’s something really unusual about that – this isn’t a typical friendship.”
The actor reveals there’s some of him in Joey, but is reluctant to expand.
“I never said I’m a tough guy. You askin’, do I cry every night?” he says.
While Hummingbird isn’t heavy on stunts, Statham admits he enjoys throwing some punches throughout the film.
“I do enjoy the physicality because it’s part of this guy. If you’re playing a Special Forces chap, you gotta know how to fight,” he says.
Statham remains committed to his acting career, and has roles lined up in Fast And Furious 7, The Expendables 3, Heat and Homefront, written by Sylvester Stallone.