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‘Transporter Refueled’ Star Ed Skrein Talks Replacing Jason Statham in Action Franchise

On screen, he may play a steely hero with a penchant for fast driving and pyrotechnics, but during production on “The Transporter Refueled,” star Ed Skrein was perfectly willing to let the professionals handle the dangerous bits.

“I was genuinely happy to let my talented stunt double Pascal Lavanchy take the reins,” Skrein told Variety. “I did the simple fun stuff. But we didn’t use a lot of CGI and he loves smashing up cars.”

Skrein, a former swimming coach and self-confessed fitness nut, did train extensively in martial arts for his breakout role. Despite intense scenes of hand-to-hand combat, he says he emerged from the production relatively unscathed.

“Safety is paramount to our crew,” he said. “I had a couple of bruises and scratches, but nothing some Ibuprofen can’t cure.”

The English actor has been tasked with donning Jason Statham’s impeccably tailored suits as a mercenary driver who is essentially an Audi-wielding samurai, but he admits he’d never seen the stylish European action films until he auditioned.

“I am notoriously late to these things,” said Skrein. “I’m the guy who gets excited watching a box set 10 years after the show happened.”

He enjoyed what he saw on screen, but he hasn’t been able to get Statham’s blessing for assuming the role that transformed the actor from a “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” ensemble player into an action movie icon.

“I tried to reach out respectfully, but I couldn’t get through to him,” said Skrein. “I was a fan of his work with [director] Guy Ritchie and he was fantastic in this role, but it was important not to dwell on what he did in shaping the character.”

Skrein recently experienced his own brush with stardom when he appeared at Comic-Con to hawk “The Transporter Refueled” and his role as the villain Ajax in “Deadpool,” a comic book movie with an insouciant approach to the costumed hero genre which was rapturously received in San Diego. The geek culture gathering felt like home to Skrein, who says he is a big comic book enthusiast and graphic novel devotee.

“I was on stage in Hall H and I felt like Mick Jagger for the nerds,” he said. “That’s the kind of Mick Jagger I want to be.”

“The Transporter Refueled” debuts in theaters on Sept. 4.

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