Statham was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. He moved to Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where he chose not to follow his father's career working on the local market stalls, and decided to pursue the arts. He played football for the local grammar school (1978–83) having started at the Grammar school at the age of eleven, but his real passion was diving. He practiced daily in perfecting his diving techniques — in particular, he finished 12th in the World Championships in 1992. He was also a member of Britain's National Diving Squad for twelve years.
Statham's life in media began when he was spotted by a talent agent specialising in athletes while training at London's Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. Afterwards, he became a model for the clothing brand French Connection.
While working for French Connection, he was introduced to fledgling British director Guy Ritchie who was developing a film project and needed to fill the role of a street-wise con artist. After learning about Statham's past as a Black Market Salesmen, Ritchie cast him to play the role of "Bacon" in Ritchie's breakout 1998 hit, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The movie was well received by both critics and audiences, and helped catapult Statham into the public eye. Statham's second collaboration with Ritchie came in the 2000 film Snatch, playing the role of "Turkish". Cast alongside popular actors Brad Pitt, Dennis Farina and Benicio del Toro, and with the movie earning more than $80 million in box-office revenue, Statham was able to break into Hollywood and appeared in two movies in 2001: Ghosts of Mars and The One.
Statham was offered more film roles and in 2002 was cast as the lead role of driver Frank Martin in the action movie The Transporter, in which his background in martial arts enabled him to do most of his own stunts. The film spawned two sequels, Transporter 2, in 2005 and third Transporter film in 2008. He also played in supporting roles in Mean Machine (2002), The Italian Job (2003) (in which he played Handsome Rob), and Cellular (2004) where he played the lead villain. In 2005, Statham was once again cast by Ritchie to star in his new project, Revolver which was a critical and box office failure. He also played a dramatic role in the independent drama London in 2006. In 2006 he played the lead role in Crank. Statham compares his role in Crank to his real life in the September 2006 issue of Maxim. The success of Crank led to a sequel in 2009 titled Crank: High Voltage.
In 2008, Statham starred in the British crime thriller The Bank Job which was both a critical and box office success. In 2008, American film critic Armond White hailed Statham's ascension as the leading international action film star. On the occasion of Death Race, White championed Statham's "best track record of any contemporary movie star." Later in 2008, White praised Statham's Transporter 3 as a great example of kinetic pop art.
In 2009, Statham started to develop a new movie written by David Peoples and Janet Peoples (Twelve Monkeys). Statham stated "We've got a movie we're trying to do, written by David Peoples and Janet Peoples, in the vein of an old film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It’s not a remake or anything, but it's a little bit like that, about relationships and how greed contaminates the relationships these three people have. The working title is The Grabbers," and the release date is still unknown.
In 2010, Statham appeared alongside fellow action stars Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Li and Mickey Rourke, among others in The Expendables. Statham plays Lee Christmas, a former SAS soldier and expert at close quarters combat using knives.
He will also star in the action film, The Killer Elite. According to Variety, the film will be based on real events, which were the subject of Sir Ranulph Fiennes' fictional novel The Feather Men. Statham will play a former SAS named Danny who comes out of retirement to save an old friend who will be played by Clive Owen.
Statham is also a fan of mixed martial arts and has attended many mixed martial arts pay per views, usually put on by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
|1998||Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels||Bacon|
|Turn It Up||Mr. B|
|2001||Ghosts of Mars||Sgt. Jericho Butler|
|The One||MVA Agent Evan Funsch||first time partnered with Jet Li|
|2002||The Transporter||Frank Martin|
|2003||The Italian Job||Handsome Rob|
|2004||Collateral||Frank Martin (presumed)||Cameo appearance|
|Cellular||Ethan Greer||First film to appear as a villain|
|2005||Transporter 2||Frank Martin|
|2006||Chaos||Det. Quentin Conners|
|The Pink Panther||Yves Gluant||Uncredited role|
|2007||War||FBI Agent John Crawford||second time partnered with Jet Li|
|2008||The Bank Job||Terry Leather|
|In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale||Farmer Daimon|
|Death Race||Jensen "Frankenstein" Ames|
|Transporter 3||Frank Martin|
|2009||Crank: High Voltage||Chev Chelios|
|The Expendables||Lee Christmas||third time partnered with Jet Li|
|2011||Blitz||Detective Sergeant Brant||pre-production|
|The Mechanic||Arthur Bishop||post-production|
|Gnomeo and Juliet||Tybalt||post-production|
Since 1998, Statham has appeared in over twenty films. Several have been box office hits, such as Snatch and The Bank Job. He has starred in two film cycles, The Transporter and Crank. The films he has been in have grossed a total of more than $1 billion USD at the box office, with the highest individual film being The Expendables.