The Transformation Of Jason Statham From Childhood To 54 Years Old

As one of Hollywood's least pretentious movie stars, the transformation of Jason Statham from childhood to 54 has seen the action star leaving his working-class roots behind, without ever losing sight of his background. As the actor's performances, star status, and growing net worth have evolved, the "Crank" star has remained refreshingly free of any illusions that what he's doing has deeper merit than "just pretending to be somebody else," per an interview with Esquire.

The result is a career which lacks any flashy acting ambition — instead, Statham's work exists simply to entertain. The actor's films are for fist flinging, big kabooms, sharp quips, and fast cars, not for anything that could cause unnecessary brain strain. In representing a modern form of masculinity without ever being pedantic about it, the actor's version of on-screen machismo can seem as antiquated as it can be progressive, and as tough and gritty as it can be satirical and hilarious. 

Sartorially, Statham's simple personal style conjures this idea perfectly, as Slate demonstrates. All the man needs is a perfectly tailored suit, and one or two elements of comfort, and he's a happy man. There are no embellishments or bells and whistles. He's here to speak for the clothes, not the other way around — and that's always been the case, as evidenced by his transformation. So, rev up your engine, raise a Corona, and keep a tight hold of your strawberry tart, because this is Jason Statham's transformation from childhood onwards.

Jason Statham's working-class heroes

Growing up in Britain "between Derbyshire and Norfolk," Jason Statham's childhood was a humble one where he felt privileged to be "such a small part of" a landscape "that is so awesome," as he reflected to Great British Life. Raised by working-class parents, the action star understood the value of living somewhere that felt "absolutely grounded." At home, he was raised on an inspiring cultural diet of movies which imprinted on the actor the strong appeal of what Esquire described as "physically adept men." 

They included "all the Burt Lancaster movies," and films starring ice-cool icons of masculinity like Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, and Charles Bronson. "Even musicals," he told the outlet. "My mom made sure I saw plenty of Gene Kelly." Something struck a chord. In decades to come, Statham would likewise be renowned for telegraphing what these stars did so effortlessly: Telling stories via actions and gestures. Men who can cut a man down with a single look and who could carry a movie with their charisma alone. Men who "had a bit of a laid-back coolness to them," as he told Men's Journal

But something else imprinted on him at this time, too. Speaking to the outlet, he described how all he "ever wanted" was to become a stuntman when he was a kid. As he got older, he'd begin to train seriously in pursuit of such physical excellence. 

The failed Olympian-turned-model

Although the stuntman ambition was a "real dream" for Jason Statham, it was also a difficult one for him to access. He explained to Great British Life that "to get on the stunt register you had to be expert in six different skill sets" — something which he described as "a tick list of extreme pursuits." Unfortunately, he only boasted "three of the six," and had to put his dream on hold. Luckily, he had a backup plan. 

In the late '80s and early '90s, Statham's career as a diver was showing such great promise that he almost qualified for Britain's Olympic team on three separate occasions. Despite becoming "the world's 12th-best diver at that time," he got burnt out and hung up his Speedos, per The Guardian. He told the outlet, "I thought, 'F*** it, I've got to waste another four years training? You know what? Nah.'" However, he kept busy by practicing martial arts, and in a weird way, it paid off. 

As reported by the Mirror, Statham was picked up as a model after being "spotted at a sports center," leading to modeling contracts including Tommy Hilfiger, Levi's, and French Connection. In an admittedly incredible 1995 Independent piece celebrating how "bald is cool and sexy," a spokesperson for French Connection explained that Statham's appeal lied in him being "very masculine and not too male-modelly" and "a normal guy." Soon, a British independent film would make great use of that appeal. 

Jason Statham side-hustled an acting career

At the same time that he was modeling for big brands, Jason Statham was also having to make ends meet by selling cheap watches for inflated prices on the streets of London. "I was a 'fly pitcher' is what they call it," he explained to Esquire. "... I'd sit down outside of Harrods and I'd pitch the jewelry." The job required a certain level of "street theater" in order to sell the goods, according to Statham, and his performance for the hustle would serve him well. 

According to Esquire, he met a fledgling filmmaker called Guy Ritchie "through a modeling gig" and he was cast as "a character that was the same as" him: A street hustler in the surprise indie hit, 1999's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." Despite his lack of acting experience, Ritchie needed someone "authentic" and who knew "the patter" of the London streets. Statham was the perfect candidate, and the role launched his career. "Basically, [Ritchie] taught me how to do what I needed to do in front of a camera. If I'm bad, it's on him," he joked to Men's Journal.

Two years later, the star was promoted to lead actor duties in Ritchie's 2000 follow-up "Snatch" — for which he earned "like, [£]15,000" as opposed to the "£5,000" he got for "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," per Esquire. Starring alongside Hollywood heavyweights like Brad Pitt and Benicio del Toro, Statham had officially made it. Sort of. 

Hollywood's rising B-movie Brit

Now in his thirties, Jason Statham would take full advantage of his newfound movie career by seemingly taking on any and every film that came his way. Being open to opportunities was apparently just part of his ethos. "It's that peasant mentality," he told Esquire. "Make hay while the sun shines." So he did. It just might not have been the highest quality of hay, strictly speaking.

For the start of the '00s, the action star appeared in one flop after another, including soccer flick "Mean Machine," the critically panned Jet Li martial arts vehicle "The One" — wherein Statham debuted what's been dubbed one of the worst American accents put on film — and John Carpenter's schlocky sci-fi flick "Ghosts of Mars." According to Screen Rant, the latter movie was originally pitched by the legendary director as having Statham in the lead role. 

It would have been a huge deal for the rising British star, except that "the studio didn't think he had the star power to sell" it. That position was instead filled by Ice Cube — the most reliable rapper-turned-monotone-script-slinger of '90s B-movies. Not that the actor cared about his popularity, either way. As Statham told Men's Health, once he arrived in Los Angeles, he was there to hustle some more bread and honey. "I wasn't coming here to schmooze and find out where the cool places are," he said. "Screw that. I wanted to come out here and get some work done."

Jason Statham pulls his career into sixth gear

By all accounts, Jason Statham's B-movie flops hardly hurt his career. As the 2000s marched on, the actor was able to solidify his niche as a charismatic everyman whose physicality could more than make up for his seemingly restricted acting range. With the martial arts and car-stunt bravado of "The Transporter" trilogy, the actor was able to build upon his lost childhood dreams of becoming a stuntman, by becoming an action star who does his own stunts

Describing the first "Transporter" film as having "influenced" his career "more than any film" he'd ever done to Campus Circle, the trilogy would cement Statham's unusual star appeal. He could lead guilty pleasure action flicks with aplomb — and audiences would love them enough that studios would make more, even if critics were hardly crazy about them. At this point, Statham continued adding notches to his bad movie wall of fame by starring in more critically panned fare like Guy Ritchie's universally reviled "Revolver," and the apparently irredeemable exploitation thriller "Chaos."

But his attitude toward such films remained the same as when he used to sweet-talk cheap watches to unsuspecting consumers in London. Comparing movies to "very complicated timepiece[s]," the actor reflected to Esquire that the cheap watches he used to sell were harmless and weren't fooling anyone. "People ain't getting ripped [off]," he suggested. "No one's saying it's gold." As the outlet argued, selling cheap watches wasn't all that different to selling B-movies...

A strawberry tart and a rush of adrenaline

His self-aware attitude was just as well given that Jason Statham would continue his cinematic hustle with a pair of movies that could hardly be considered Oscar gold — but they were cult gold, at the very least. "Crank" and "Crank: High Voltage" saw the actor starring as Chev Chelios — a hapless assassin who, for various insane reasons, has to keep his adrenaline levels topped up in order to stay alive. It would be the first time since "Lock, Stock" that Statham could properly flex his comedic skills, but it also pushed his stunt performance to the next level.

As he explained to IGN, "Crank" gave him a chance to show off what "separates [him] from most of the other Hollywood action guys": His athletics background had prepared him for the day when he could do his own stunts, including "hanging out of a helicopter 3,000 feet above downtown L.A." for the former flick. "It's a little [something] that I kept in my back pocket," he proudly explained to the outlet.

Though successful in his own right, Statham was still operating on the fringes of mainstream Hollywood — and was dressing like it. For years, the actor's sense of style, which mostly rested on the safety of grey and blue color palettes, seemingly expressed the same one-note sentiment: I'm off down the boozer with the missus, rather than, I'm on a red carpet and I belong here. Thankfully, that was about to change.

Jason Statham becomes a bona-fide action star

Jason Statham arrived at his forties in style, when Sylvester Stallone gave him the aging-action-star knighthood of a starring role in the ensemble action trilogy "The Expendables." The actor would be dubbed "the last action hero" by various outlets, including Today and The Guardian, for years to come off the back of the films, and for good reason. 

In starring alongside action hero dinosaurs like Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mickey Rourke, the actor may have represented the final breath of a soon-to-be-extinct genre — an '80s style action flick, done in earnest. Speaking to News Shopper about the "old fashioned" nature of the film, wherein "men are men and women are victims," Statham admitted, "You could argue that ['The Expendables' is] slightly prehistoric." Impressively, however, the action star remained keen to push the genre — and his career — forward without reinventing the wheel too much.

In 2011, for instance, Statham's performance in the remake of Charles Bronson's "The Mechanic" saw him able to step into the blood-smeared shoes of the sort of "guys' guys" macho icons he grew up watching and adoring. But that same year, a role acting opposite Robert de Niro and Clive Owen in "The Killer Elite" gave him aspirations to up his game, and his persona — and to potentially elevate the genre in the process. "That's the direction I really want to go in now," he explained to "Thinking-man's action, you know?" 

The actor mistakenly changes the menu

Soon after, Jason Statham attempted to apply a little more brains to his brawn — with mixed results. In films like "Blitz," "Safe," and "Homefront," the actor tried his hand at performances which yielded deeper dramatic focus. These were stories with a little more depth to them than just fisticuffs and damsels in distress. But were they right for him?

The Guardian reported that the actor's "attempt to develop his 'brand' by trying more adventurous parts" had impressed some film critics. However, they also noted that "tellingly," his films "that aim at greater dramatic purchase" — "Blitz" and "Homefront" — were "the worst box office performers among Statham's recent films." Incredibly, the actor was already attuned to the problem: Audiences had certain expectations with his films, and he knew he owed it to them. "You can't have a sushi restaurant and then put cheese on toast on the menu," he philosophically mused to The Guardian in 2013.

Despite having originally "tak[en] a pass" at joining the "Fast & Furious" universe (via Screen Rant), Statham put sushi back on the menu, so to speak, by joining the film's cast. The star enjoyed an exhilarating post-credits cameo in "Furious 6," which he filmed in "one afternoon," per Empire. It'd arguably be one of the greatest moves of his career. In his personal life, Statham was also making moves, showing up on red carpets as the proud and dashing boyfriend of supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. 

Fated to be furious

His love life got taken to the next level in 2016, when Hello! reported that Jason Statham and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley were engaged. It was a period of great success for the action star, whose star power would be elevated by two career changing projects. The first, "Furious 7," catapulted Statham into the big leagues of scenery-chewing performances. However, he initially had reservations about depicting Deckard Shaw, the film's villain. But given that even the most heinous of the "Fast & Furious" baddies become bros eventually, Statham soon changed his mind.

"If it's a good villain, there's obviously some consideration to be made," he told Empire. "But there are some really bad villains out there, and I don't want to get myself wet with that s***." Surprisingly, given his evident comedic skills, Statham was likewise hesitant about saying yes to "Spy," as he'd "always been apprehensive about trying to do a f***ing comedy," per Esquire, due to their hit or miss nature. 

Speaking to Den of Geek, he explained that he wasn't sure how to "be funny" in the 2015 flick until director Paul Feig convinced him otherwise: "[Feig] said don't try to be funny. We'll just have you playing a straight character, and the funny stuff will come." For both "Spy" and "Furious 7," pushing out of his comfort zone paid off, and Statham unlocked a new acting ability: He could be hilarious without even trying. A fact which would be utilized to his full potential in more movies to come. 

Cars, mega-sharks, and a baby

As he continued to clink Coronas with the family of his "Fast & Furious" engine-revving brethren, Jason Statham drew deeper acclaim for his performances. "Fast & Furious 8" saw the actor flexing more of his comedic skills, and critics were as crazy for his scene-stealing antics as audiences. IndieWire, for instance, stated, "Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw makes for some of the most fun moments" of the film, while NME applauded how "[Statham and Dwayne Johnson] bickering like an old married couple, is used as liberally and amusingly as you'd hope." 

Notably, the film also featured an absolute gift of a scene: Shaw fighting off a plane full of baddies while pulling reassuring faces at a baby left in his protection. If Statham was still wanting to reshape on-screen modes of masculinity, then this was a strong first step. In the "Fast & Furious" world, after all, next to baldness, beer drinking, and beating on bad guys, being a family man is the most macho thing there is. 

Significantly, this fact would be reflected for Statham at home, too, when he and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley brought Jack Oscar Whiteley — their first child — into the world in 2017. Still, he wasn't completely family friendly just yet. When the actor starred in mega-shark movie "The Meg," he expressed disappointment that the PG-13 flick had seemingly had its teeth removed. Statham told Collider that he'd asked, "'Where's the f***ing blood?'" when it came out. Honestly, same

Jason Statham's buddy movie bromance

As his career continued to rise, Jason Statham's style also became more polished and elevated. True to his roots, the star would combine perfectly tailored suits with low-key casuals, and often in his color of choice: A British fleet Navy blue. Now in his fifties, he'd more than earned the right to look as comfortable as he did sophisticated. 

With the release of "Fast & Furious presents: Hobbs & Shaw" in 2019, the star once again flexed the versatility of his skills as an entertainer. He was as comfortable with standing proud within his throwback action persona as he was to have a laugh with it. In their review of "Hobbs & Shaw," called it "an old-fashioned '80s buddy comedy, but with modern ... sensibilities." Arguably, the actor was now a keen duplication of an '80s action star — one who could reflect on the performance of machismo and repackage it both earnestly and in parody. 

People lapped it up, and the "Hobbs & Shaw" international box office pounded a fierce $700 million. Speaking to Total Film, Statham reflected that he'd done alright for a bloke who "had no f***ing clue" he was ever going to be in a movie let alone one with "a $200 million budget." However, he remained humble. "If you think you're deserving of it, then you need to spend a few weeks with my friends," Statham joked, "and they will bring you back down to earth."

Coasting in his comfort zone

From 2020 onwards, Jason Statham had proudly perfected his recipe for on-screen gold: He added five dashes of cockney charisma to six scoops of pure machismo, and served it gloriously unrefined with a knowing wink and a smile. There was no changing or adapting it at this point, which is probably why much of his work moving forward saw the star hitting several comfort zones — and thriving in them. 

Leading roles in "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" and "Wrath of Man," for instance, saw the actor returning to his roots by reuniting once again with director Guy Ritchie. As he told Entertainment Weekly, the filmmaker's talents were complimentary to Statham's own physical skill set. "[Ritchie] can capture the emotion without really getting the actors to say much," he explained and jokingly noted that the director was "going to be sick" of him now from working together so much.

Meanwhile, the actor was also making a return as Lee Christmas for "Expendables 4" — another installment of the cinematic retirement-home for action stars. Only this time, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, "Statham will be the one with the biggest gun," as opposed to head honcho Sylvester Stallone: A potentially symbolic passing of the baton from one working-class action hero to the next. In his personal life, the actor was also continuing to thrive when baby No. 2 with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Isabella James Statham, was welcomed to the world in February 2022.

Will Jason Statham return as Deckard Shaw?

Moving forward, Jason Statham might not be breaking much new ground on screen, but there's a comfort to be had in the actor sticking faithfully to his brand and franchises, regardless. It's just as well considering he's still got some unfinished "family" business to attend to. When questioned about whether he'd be returning for the 10th "Fast & Furious" movie in 2021, he assured CBR that he had a story to finish with Sung Kang's Han — a character that he once killed, but who mysteriously didn't die (hey, it's complicated).

Given his post-credits surprise cameo in "F9," Statham affirmed that he'd "better" be back for 10 and explained to the outlet, "I need to put out that fire. If [Han's] got any score to settle, it's with me." At the time of this writing, the actor is also set to dive into more potentially PG-13 waters with "The Meg 2" — though here's hoping for the actor's sake that the studio decides to let these prehistoric sharks taste a little more blood than the previous film. In celebrating the star, the shark movie's director Ben Wheatley described how Statham "feels very genuine and real" to The Guardian

Comparing Statham to fellow British working-class actor Michael Caine, the filmmaker posited, "[Caine] was that character who would play himself in everything pretty much, but he would crop up in ... all these different [genres]. Statham's the same." Professionally, he may still yet transform in some entertaining ways — but thankfully for everyone, Jason Statham may never change.