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  • Feature: Transporter 3

    Mon, 24 Nov 2008 17:03:11

    Feature: Transporter 3 - On the road again

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    Jason Statham, back behind the wheel as no-questions-asked courier Frank Martin in Transporter 3, says, "I think on the third one we've found his weakness. And it all lies within this lovely female here."

    He's referring to costar Natalya Rudakova, a striking Russian redhead who proves to be both infuriatingly frustrating and yet ultimately irresistible to Martin. The two are forced to make a Marseilles-to-Odessa road trip wearing explosives that will detonate if they stray too far from their car, which inspires a fatalistic form of action-flick intimacy.

    "When you have someone that you care about deeply, it really affects your mindset," Statham adds. "I think it makes him more likeable, more human."

    Statham describes the enduring appeal of his character by saying that Martin has a good moral code. "He's not like this guy who just waves a gun around and shoots people in the head unnecessarily. He's trying to do the least amount of damage possible. He's not looking for conflict, he just wants to have an easy life."

    Statham jokes, '[Frank Martin]'s much cooler than me. I'm a bit of a fool, deep down.'

    Asked what he has in common with his character, Statham jokes, "He's much cooler than me. I'm a bit of a fool, deep down."

    Like the first two installments, Transporter 3 was cowritten by producer Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. Each movie has been helmed by a different director, with Olivier Megaton taking the reins this time.

    "Luc is ultimately responsible for the creation of Frank Martin, and for me being in Hollywood right now," Statham notes. "I mean, if it wasn't for Transporter One, I don't think I'd be in this position.

    It was the first movie I ever did where I played a leading part, and certainly the first action movie I'd ever done. So it's great to have such a huge opportunity to do something like that. It takes a lot of balls to gamble on somebody that doesn't really have anything to sort of back that up."

    Besson takes a similar chance this time around with Rudakova, who makes her acting debut in Transporter 3. She caught Besson's eye on a Manhattan street while she was walking to work as a hairdresser.

    "She'd just passed by, with her freckles and her blue eyes," Besson recalls. He had his female assistant approach Rudakova, who initially was skeptical about her good fortune.

    "I couldn't believe it, when she came up to me and started asking, 'Did you model before, or act before?'" says Rudakova, who describes her casting as "a fairy tale."

    The movie's action scenes include elaborate multi-character fights staged by Corey Yuen, who directed the first Transporter and who has done martial arts choreography for all three installments.

    "The fight sequences always pose a certain challenge, if you're not physically ready," Statham points out. "If you don't hit the gym and you're not stretched out, you're going to get injured very quickly."

    Producer Besson notes that he sometimes had to pull rank to prevent Statham from doing the more dangerous stunts. "We would say, 'No, you're not going to do this, it's a double who's going to do it.' He would be screaming, fighting, 'Come on, let me do it, I can do it.'"

    Asked if his background as a competitive diver before he took up acting helped him execute a lengthy underwater stunt, Statham laughs.

    "Absolutely not, no! I used to do diving years ago, but you have to hold your breath for about two seconds. You dive in, and you come straight to the surface."

    Robert Knepper, known to Prison Break fans for his role as T-Bag on the T.V. series, plays Transporter 3's ruthlessly businesslike villain Johnson. "Beware the bad guy in a suit and tie," he says.

    "These kind of surreptitious, covert, cloaked characters obviously exist around the world. They put out little forest fires, so the guys in government positions don't have to look bad."

    Because Statham and Rudakova's characters spend nearly the entire movie together in a moving car, they needed something to talk about. One recurring conversation topic is what each would include on a menu for a perfect meal.

    "Luc and I divide up everything we write," says co-scripter Kamen.

    "He takes care of all the sex stuff, and I do the food stuff."

    —James Dawson

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    Tags: Luc Besson, Jason Statham, Robert Mark Kamen, Olivier Megaton, Transporter 3, The Transporter

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