Writer Robert Mark Kamen has created such legends as The Karate Kid franchise and the Taken franchise. After collaborating with Luc Besson on The Fifth Element, the pair reteamed to give birth to The Transporter franchise and created Jason Statham – the action movie star. Kamen says that working with the “very difficult” movie star Bruce Willis on The Fifth Element is what made him and Besson try out the relatively unknown Jason Statham on The Transporter.
Before The Transporter, Statham had gotten his big break in Guy Ritchie‘s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and reteamed with Vinnie Jones on the British soccer movie Mean Machine. His only real foray into Hollywood at that stage was a supporting role in the John Carpenter science fiction movie Ghosts of Mars. It was 2002’s The Transporter that turned Statham into the action star we know and love today.
Speaking to Uproxx about making The Fifth Element with Bruce Willis, Kamen said; “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.”
It’s seems as though Kamen has a knack for creating franchises that create action movie stars. Before 2008’s Taken, Liam Neeson was best-known for his Oscar-nominated role in Steven Spielberg‘s Schindler’s List, and having supporting roles in the Star Wars prequels and The Dark Knight trilogy. Neeson was primarily known as a dramatic actor, in the likes of Nell, Rob Roy, Michael Collins, Kinsey, and Martin Scorsese‘s Gangs of New York. Since Taken, Neeson has starred in over 20 action movies.
Speaking of Neeson, Kamen said; “He figured out that he’s a great actor, but he wanted to make money. This is a money machine for him. Liam picks up a gun, and they pay him a lot of money.”