Jason Statham Apparently Nearly Played Tommy Shelby In Peaky Blinders
On the plectrum of British crime drama icons, Jason Statham will always be right up. He's the archetypal cockney hard-man, having cut his now extremely famous teeth in roles like Snatch, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, and The Bank Job. Imagining him as an early 20th-century Birmingham gangster, however, is a bit trickier.
However new details about the creation of iconic period gangster drama Peaky Blinders have emerged, with the show's creator Steven Knight stating in an interview just how close we came to a world where Statham would have played lead character Tommy Shelby. We could maybe imagine him as Arthur, but Tommy?
It's near impossible to imagine anyone other than the cold, calculating character Cillian Murphy portrays in the role. But Knight has said that the action star was pretty much nailed on to play the head of the Birmingham gang.
"I met them both in L.A. to talk about the role and opted for Jason,” Knight told Esquire. “One of the reasons was because physically in the room Jason is Jason. Cillian, when you meet him, isn’t Tommy, obviously, but I was stupid enough not to understand that.”
However Knight revealed that it was a late stage text from the show's eventual star that won him the role. "Afterwards, [Murphy] sent me a text saying, “Remember, I’m an actor.'"
“Which is absolutely the thing because he can transform himself,” Knight added. “If you meet him in the street he is a totally different human being."
Evidently, it turned out to be the right call, and it's hard to make the claim that Statham, who's gone on to star in multiple billion-dollar films as one of the faces of the Fast & Furious franchise, has seen his career suffer as a result.
Meanwhile, despite his underrated filmography including a bunch of Christopher Nolan films, the role of Tommy Shelby has become the shining light on Murphy's CV, with the show set to enter its sixth season once filming resumes post-coronavirus. You'd hope so, considering the amount of ciggies he smashed while playing the role.
While you're here, be sure to check out our definitive list of all 22 major Peaky Blinders characters, ranked. In more entertainment news, Sylvester Stallone is set to narrate a documentary about the iconic Rocky series.