Casting key for 'Parker' director
Taylor Hackford has directed Oscar winners, he's an Academy Award winner himself and his movies, including "An Officer and a Gentlemen" and "Ray," speak for themselves.
So it's fair to wonder what he's doing at the helm of "Parker," opening Friday, in which Jason Statham plays the latest big screen incarnation of author Donald E. Westlake's famously vengeful criminal with a deep-rooted sense of justice.
But for the guy who has worked Jamie Foxx and Richard Gere, among others, collaborating with action king Statham was a no-brainer.
"The camera is a microscope, and somebody's either got it or they don't," Hackford says. "Unfortunately, there are so many talented, experienced actors out there that will never be movie stars, because they may possess all the technique, but the camera doesn't love them. The camera loves Jason Statham."
The filmmaker says he knew from the outset that Statham would make a fantastic Parker: "He's silent, he's precise, you look in those eyes and you know there's something going on, but it's mysterious."
But Statham isn't even the most noteworthy presence in his own starring vehicle.
You simply don't expect to see Jennifer Lopez playing second fiddle to Statham. That she does so here is a testament to Hackford's powers of persuasion and her interest in legitimate acting parts.
In "Parker," Lopez gives her most offbeat performance in quite some time, probably since her character acting days in the late '90s ("Out of Sight," "U-Turn"). The megastar plays a struggling real estate agent who helps Parker recover money stolen from him by his partners after a heist.
"I know who she is. She's absolutely real," Hackford says of Lopez.
It turns out Hackford's instincts were right and this genre piece proves an ideal venue for Lopez's return to serious performing.
After all, as Hackford says of genre movies, "When they're good and they really have a certain integrity, they're very enjoyable."