Cape Town – It’s instinct to swim away from things that scare us, especially a 23m long prehistoric shark. But Jason Statham swims towards it.
The action star takes the lead in what some have described as a modern-day Jaws and for someone who has admitted he doesn’t scare easily, taking on the monstrous sea animal was a breeze.
ON CHOOSING THE ROLE
“The first thing I consider when reading a script is whether I can do justice to the role. The Meg played to my fascination with the underwater world and to my love of scuba diving. So, it was very appealing to me – and a nice change of pace,” Statham says of what drew him to do the film.
And while his character, Jonas Taylor, spends some time with a dart gun trying to put the beast to sleep, Statham admits: “It’s probably the first movie I’ve done in a while where I’m not running around with a gun.”
Before his action acting career took off Statham spent his days diving and even competed in the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1990 for England. And while his diving days are over, Statham still regularly enjoys scuba diving.
“I love scuba diving, and because there was so much underwater work, I knew I could do justice to this role. And it came with some nice perks: During some time off from production of The Meg, I went diving in Fiji and hand-fed some bull sharks. That was the pinnacle of my scuba experiences over the past ten years.”
ON PREPARING FOR THE ROLE
While Statham was somewhat prepared for his role, the amount of underwater work requires a fine-tuned skill.
“Scuba diving requires a fair amount of discipline, concentration, and confidence. Filming underwater sequences can be very tricky, and my experience as a scuba diver continues to be a big help in these situations.”
Statham further reveals he first learned to scuba dive when filming The Transporter back in 2002 and it was no easy task.
“My instructor back then was a tough military type, who was a bit ‘off book’— sometimes he’d rip my mask off, with no warning. It was an intense few weeks, but it really got me hooked.”
ON CHALLENGING WATER SCENES WITH A CGI SHARK
In the film viewers will quickly learn Statham’s character is a total badass but is put into seriously sticky situations, even if it’s with a CGI shark. Speaking about filming one scene in particular, in which Statham has to tag the megaladon, the English actor says his initial thought was how it was going to be filmed.
“When I read that scene in the script, my first thought was, ‘How are they going to film this?’ We obviously didn’t have a megalodon to work with, so the creative heads were busy planning everything out. I knew that it would be a big popcorn/audience-pleasing moment.”
He adds that the pressure of making it a perfect scene saw him spending the entire day in the ocean.
“We were out in the ocean all day long, and it was very cold. You have to be resilient in doing scenes like that, but I’m always up for the challenge.”
ON WORKING WITH AN INTERNATIONAL CAST
The Meg boasts a massive international cast and crew from all-over the world including China, the US, the UK, Iceland, New Zealand, Japan and Australia – something Statham really enjoys and is familiar with.
“In my career, I often work with an international cast and crew, and I have always enjoyed it. It is a proper reflection of society.”
To keep such a large cast happy a positive vibe is needed on set, which Statham says, was well achieved by director Jon Turteltaub.
“Jon is a real comedian. He is an absolute pleasure to be around because he never takes things too seriously. He has the entire weight of a big movie resting on his shoulders, but he’s always about having a good time on set. We had such a laugh making this movie, and a lot of that was due to Jon.”
HERE ARE 7 MEGA FUN FACTS ABOUT THE MEG:
The Meg is currently show in SA cinemas.
(Photos: Supplied by Warner Bros.)