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Ghosts Of Mars Was Jason Statham's First Action Role


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John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars provided Jason Statham with his first big action role. Statham made his movie debut with Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and they soon reunited with 2000's Snatch, but while he impressed in both of those efforts with his comic chops, he would take a hard swerve into action hero territory following The Transporter in 2002. The actor would return for two sequels and fronted a host of other action hits, including The Mechanic and Death Race.

Prior to signing on for 2001's Ghosts Of Mars - which was only his fourth movie - he turned down the role played by Kevin McKidd in cult classic werewolf movie Dog Soldiers. Ghosts Of Mars is something of a cinematic mixtape from director John Carpenter, with the film playing like a sci-fi remake of Assault On Precinct 13, with shades of The Thing and The Fog thrown in. The movie was also part of a trio of high-profile movies set on Mars in the early 2000s, which included Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars.

Statham was reportedly up for the main role of convict Desolation Williams in Ghosts Of Mars, though the studio didn't think he had the star power to sell the movie. Ice Cube took on that part, while Statham was instead cast as Officer Jericho. The movie takes place on a terraformed Mars in 2176 and sees a group of cops and criminals defending themselves from a horde of miners possessed by vengeful Martian ghosts. In addition to providing Statham with his first onscreen kiss - courtesy of Species' Natasha Henstridge - it was also an early indicator of his action prowess.

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Ghosts Of Mars features several shootouts and fight scenes, with Statham executing both with gusto. The bulk of his action sequences find him firing an assault rifle, though he does get to punch some possessed miners and he even gets to drive through a crowd in a martian rover. The fight scenes aren't anywhere near the level he later would display in The Transporter or The Expendables, but it was a sign of where his future lay. The movie also gave him a chance to display some of his trademark charm, though Jericho's constant flirting with Henstridge's protagonist Melanie is a tad sleazy.

Sadly, Ghosts Of Mars would prove to be a box-office dud, with Statham quickly moving on to The One starring Jet Li. The actor was forced to play his supporting role with an ill-fitting American accent, and a planned fight scene between him and Li was later cut. Soon after The One, he landed The Transporter and an action career was born, though oddly enough, The One was originally supposed to star Dwayne Johnson in the lead role. Had that plan worked out, Statham and Johnson would have traded punches well before the likes of Furious 7.

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