EXCLUSIVE: Jason Statham and his manager and producing partner Steve Chasman have acquired rights to the J.J. Connolly novel Viva La Madness. That is Connolly’s follow-up novel to Layer Cake. Just as he did with the the Matthew Vaughn-directed film that starred Daniel Craig, Connolly again is turning his novel into a script. Connolly never names his chief protagonist anti-hero, but Statham will play the same nameless character we last saw trying to survive a gunshot wound in Layer Cake. It took Connolly more than a decade to follow that tale. Here, his protagonist is looking for a beach to land on in retirement, but instead he gets involved with trans-Atlantic drug deals, money laundering, high-tech electronic fraud, London lowlifes and Venezuelan drug cartels.
Statham and Chasman will test the idea that a protagonist can play the same character in different movies, the way that everyone from from Mel Gibson to Lee Marvin, Jim Brown, Robert Duvall and even Statham played the Parker character from the Donald E. Westlake novels. Anything that gets Statham back in British crime caper mode like his showcase roles in the Guy Ritchie movies Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch sounds good to me. Connolly just scripted the heist feature H for Ritchie and partner Lionel Wigram.
Viva La Madness is the second film for Statham and Chasman under the SJ Pictures banner. They recently wrapped the Simon West-directed Heat, which William Goldman adapted his novel, with Statham starring with Sofia Vergara, Milo Ventimiglia and Stanley Tucci. Chasman separately has his production shingle Current Entertainment, which made Parker, The Bank Job, The Transporter films and Kiss of the Dragon.
Statham also wrapped The expendables 3 and is shooting Fast & Furious 7. He next stars with James Franco and Kate Bosworth in Homefront. Statham is agented by CAA. UK-based Luke Speed of the Marjacq Agency repped the book and made Connolly’s writing deal.