“He was very difficult”: One $315M Franchise Refused Casting Bruce Willis, Chose Dwayne Johnson’s Fast X Co-Star Instead

Success is frequently attributed to luck or talent in the world of Hollywood. Bruce Willis has developed a reputation as a master of his work over the course of his illustrious career, often playing stoic, gritty characters who bring life to thrillers with lots of action. But, behind the scenes of his on-screen persona, rumors about his occasionally contradictory behavior on the film sets were spread.

This was revealed when screenwriters–Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen collaborated on The Fifth Element, which starred Willis as Korben Dallas. Later, Besson and Kamen reconnected to launch the Transporter franchise, which gave rise to Jason Statham, the action movie star.

Working with Willis in The Fifth Element was challenging, according to Kamen, which is why he and Besson decided to try out Dwayne Johnson’s Fast X co-star for the Transporter franchise.
Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis

Jason Statham Got The Transporter Because Bruce Willis Was ‘Difficult’

Jason Statham got his big break before The Transporter in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. At that time, a supporting part in the science fiction film Ghosts of Mars by John Carpenter represented his only significant foray into Hollywood. The actor evolved into an action star in 2002 with the release of The Transporter, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.
Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element

Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element
As aforementioned, Besson and Kamen previously collaborated with Bruce Willis in the 1997 English-language French sci-fi action film The Fifth Element.

In an interview with Uproxx, Kamen discussed working in The Fifth Element with the seasoned actor:

“He was very difficult, and Luc [Besson] worked around it. But Luc wasn’t used to it. After he did that, he came to me and said, ‘We have to create our own movie stars.’ And that’s what we did with The Transporter. We created Jason.”

Moreover, Besson and Willis also agreed upon an intriguing compromise while filming The Fifth Element.

Bruce Willis in a still from The Fifth Element (1997)

Bruce Willis in a still from The Fifth Element (1997)

During an interview with Screen Rant, Besson disclosed the agreement he made with Willis to ensure a positive, family-like environment for his cast and crew:

“I remember a long time ago on Fifth Element the assistant to Bruce Willis came and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to tell you how it works. We need a pre-call at 30 minutes, then a pre-call at 15 minutes, then a pre-call at 5 minutes before he goes on set.’ And I said, ‘I make a shot every 4 minutes. Are you kidding?’ And he said, ‘What do you mean, you do a shot every 4 minutes?’ Yeah! [Laughs] I do the shot and then I turn the camera around and I do another shot, so I can’t warn you 30 minutes before the shot.”

Why Did Jason Statham Leave The Transporter Franchise?

Jason Statham carried the Transporter franchise for three films— The Transporter (2002), Transporter 2 (2005) and Transporter 3 (2008). However, EuropaCorp is currently moving forward with a reboot of the movies without their lead star. It turned out that The One actor and the studio both wanted to develop these stories further, but there were some specifics that the action star found to be off-putting.

Jason Statham

Jason Statham

In an interview with Vulture, Statham opened up about why he decided against rejoining the franchise:

“It was obviously a great experience doing those films, and I would have loved to keep doing it. But they wanted me to sign on and do three more films without even seeing a script, and they offered me less money to do three than I’d get paid for one! So it was a business decision.”
Statham played Frank Martin in the Transporter trilogy (2002-2008) as a result of the box office success of these movies. He also experienced popularity as a member of the Fast & Furious franchise and the ensemble action series The Expendables.

He most recently appeared in Expend4bles, the fourth movie in The Expendables series, which came out almost a decade after The Expendables 3 (2014). He will next be seen in David Ayer’s upcoming action movie The Beekeeper. The cast also includes Josh Hutcherson, Bobby Naderi, Emmy Raver-Lampman, and Jeremy Irons.

Jason Statham in The Transporter

Jason Statham in The Transporter

The Transporter trilogy is currently streaming on Hulu and The Fifth Element is available to rent on Apple TV.

Source- Uproxx; Screen Rant; Vulture

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