The Hollywood News recently spoke with “Wild Card” director Simon West about his latest film and working with Jason Statham for the third time.
THN: How did you get involved with WILD CARD?
SIMON WEST: Well it’s through Jason actually. The first film I did with him was THE MECHANIC and we got on well while we were filming that, and then he brought up this project. He bought the rights to it, I don’t know how many years before. It was a passion project for him. I read it and I thought ‘It’s a thirty years old script, it may be a bit dated’ so I actually declined it. Then we met up again on EXPENDABLES 2 and it came up again so I thought I’ll give it another go. I read it and actually, probably because in the meantime I’d done a couple of big action things, I actually really liked it the second time I read it. It was very character driven and it was intimate and it was all about the troubles of the character. Even though Jason, who can obviously fight and all that, but really its about his problems and his angst and how he can’t get out of Vegas. I’d also been to Vegas in the meantime and I’d seen this part of Vegas the grubby side which is still there. Even though they rebuild the strip part every couple of years, and its all big and shiny and swanky, two or three blocks down the road it hasn’t changed since the fifties. So all these little apartment blocks and motels and car lots are all still there and these sort of characters are still there. So I said I’d love to do it. Then we started working on the script, trying to work out whether we wanted to change stuff, write out things and such, and a few months went past playing around with it. In the end we thought ‘you know what, the script is fine as it is’, going back to how it was originally. I actually shot the original script as written thirty years ago by William Goldman. There’s no technology in it, there’s nothing in it really that dates it and, as I said, Vegas and these people still exist.
You’ve worked with Jason a number of times now, how’s he to work with?
He’s great. The more you work with someone, the better you get to know them. You get a shorthand in how you talk to each other. You don’t have to beat around the bush as much, you know each others strengths and weaknesses and have a taste of each other and what they are going to like. It just becomes very relaxed. That’s why I suppose when directors and actors do get along they end up working a lot together because it means you can just focus on the work rather than learning a new person. You do better work because all that stuff is behind you. We get on very well and have a good working relationship. I come from a more drama background and he’s come from the action background and he has a lot of skills and knowledge from that stuff as well, so he’s very involved in all the fight choreography and the action; I know how to shoot it and also worked with him a lot on the character. I started at the BBC and worked on ‘classic’ BBC dramas and worked with people like Mike Leigh and Stephen Frears, and Dickensian stuff like Bleak House. I know that side of it and he’s come up more in front of the camera, he’s sort of learned his trade in front of the camera and is now much more interested in the acting part than the action part. That’s why he loved this project because he gets to show off what he can do acting wise, there’s lots of dialogue, there’s not tons of action, but he’s still that tough guy character. It’s more of a dramatic role.
You can read the rest of the interview here.