Secrets of a shark tale
Jason Statham on how to stage the ultimate beast vs man showdown in The Meg
THE MAKERS OF Deep Blue Sea may have thought they had turned in the perfect shark-schlock movie — but this year, there’s a new fish in the sea. The Meg, from National Treasure helmer Jon Turteltaub, is set to make a play for the crown, and the ace up its sleeve is the megalodon of the title: a prehistoric supershark that didn’t get the memo when all its mates went extinct.
Luckily, humanity has a pretty solid backer in its corner in the shape of Jason Statham, whose presence adds to the feeling that gritty realism may not be the goal here. So, what’s the recipe for 2018’s most anticipated B movie? SUPERSIZE IT
“I mean, who doesn’t want to watch a film about the biggest shark that’s ever existed?” says Statham. A prehistoric 60-foot shark might seem far fetched — and in fact is — but Turteltaub is keen to point out there’s a credible explanation for the megalodon sticking around. “Think of it as a blind alley of evolution,” says the director. “Our fish found a haven in the unexplored ocean, and has only just been disturbed after all this time.” KEEP IT PERSONAL
“I play a former navy captain and diver,” Statham tells Empire, “and I get hired to rescue a team of scientists who are trapped at the bottom of the sea in their research station by this giant shark.” Problem is, his ex-wife is down there too: “Then all hell breaks loose.” Even better, Statham’s character, Captain Jonas Taylor, survived a previous encounter with the monster, only for nobody to believe him. PICK THE RIGHT TEAM Man cannot face shark alone, and the diverse cast packs the Chinese research team with support from around the world, including Ruby Rose, Rainn Wilson, Li Bingbing, Cliff Curtis and Olafur Darri Olafsson. “We were all doing so many stunts, it was like coming to work to be beaten up every day,” says Rose. TAKE IT SERIOUSLY
Barrie M. Osborne (producer behind
The Lord Of The Rings) is keen to show Empire the elaborate designs for the underwater habitat where our heroes find themselves. “The key here is to really sell the credibility of the technology and environments,” he says, “so that way, you really feel their fear.” …BUT NOT TOO SERIOUSLY Rainn Wilson is under no illusions about the film he’s in. “I play a billionaire who may or may not be trustworthy, and who may or may not get himself eaten by a fish the length of a football field,” he deadpans. “We’re not talking about underplaying this one.”
LET THE STATH LOOSE
After his newly heroic turn in Fast And Furious 8, Statham’s star has never been higher. There’s only one question remaining: does he punch the shark? “I can’t tell you that,” he says. Which, you’ll notice, is not a “no”.
THE MEG IS IN CINEMAS FROM
Jason Statham was bouncing on his chair in excitement while speaking to Empire in November 2016 Clockwise Jaws breaker: from Jason above: Statham (as Captain Jonas Taylor) meets his greatest foe yet, a 70-foot prehistoric shark called The Meg; Li Bingbing joins forces with Statham as Suyin.