Action star Jason Statham is used to punching faces, not putting smiles on them, which is why the overwhelmingly positive reaction to his comedic turn in the new comedy film Spy is surprising many — including, apparently, Statham himself.
Bryan Alexander of Entertain This reports that Statham, who reportedly received punched-up lines on the fly on Post-It notes from director Paul Feig, kept him on his game and cited the involvement of Feig as the impetus for Statham’s genre exploration. Statham told USA Today‘s Brian Truitt about how the casting came about.
“Comedy is not my first go-to-sort-of genre. I’ve never really had the opportunity to get involved with anything like this. Well I have, but a lot of the scripts…well, they ain’t that good. So when you get something from Paul Feig, the game changes slightly.”
“A lot of the stuff I was given was all on these Post-It notes. They were coming thick and fast. You get about 30 seconds to learn the line before you deliver it. It keeps you on your toes.”
Truitt had much praise for the film, calling Feig’s sense of physical comedy “keen,”and his timing “exquisite,” while also stating that the film aptly introduces Statham as a “surefire comedic leading man.”
Legendary film critic and subject of comedian Doug Benson’s Doug Loves Movies podcast game Leonard Maltin heaped additional praise upon Statham’s performance, calling Statham’s role the “casting coup of the year.”
“I never could have anticipated that this stone-faced action star would become a great comic foil, but Feig has pulled off the casting coup of the year. Statham delivers and provides one of Spy’s funniest running gags.”
Spy, which stars Statham as an over-the-top agent, along with leading lady Melissa McCarthy, took the No. 1 spot on the box office this weekend, earning a surprising $30 million. In it, McCarthy stars as Susan Cooper, an unassuming deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency’s most dangerous missions. When her partner falls off the grid and another top agent is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer and prevent a global crisis.
Statham made headlines earlier this week when rumors of him appearing as a villain in an upcoming Marvel movie led to Statham publicly announcing that he will not be involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I could take my grandma and put her in a cape, and they’ll put her on a green screen, and they’ll have stunt doubles come in and do all the action. Anybody can do it.”
“I’m inspired by old, real-star actors, guys that can really do their thing.”