It’s been 12 years since The Transporter, the Luc Besson-penned action flick starring Jason Statham, was first released. And in that time, the story—centered around drive-of-all-trades Frank Martin—has taken on a whole new life. Specifically as a TV series.
Starring Chris Vance, the first season of the show has been seen around the world, but beginning October 18 it’ll finally be seen in the U.S. when the first season (followed closely by the world premiere of the second) airs on TNT.
Here, Vance dishes on the international locations, unparalleled adrenaline and surprisingly engineered suits that make Frank Martin a pleasure for him to play—and for us to watch.
The first season of the series is about to air in the U.S., but you’ve already finished shooting the second. How did the two differ?
Well, we obviously went to different places. We went to Morocco, Prague and Casa Blanca, and those bring their own unique challenges to the table. Then we went to the Czech Republic, which we didn’t do first season. That brought another set of crew, and a different cultural aspect, different logistics, different actors. Then, we ended up back in Toronto to finish the series up in Canada, where we’re familiar. That’s kind of our home base, so it’s been more of the same, except we’ve had a little different ride around the world this time.
Did you have a favorite among those places to shoot?
This time around it was Prague. The last time around it was Paris. You know, you don’t get too much time to see places between acting, directing and producing, so it was a busy ride for me.
If your character isn’t speeding, he’s fighting, and if he’s not fighting, he’s getting the girl. There’s not a whole lot of downtime for this guy. What’s the best part of playing him?
To tell you the truth, it’s a very complicated fight sequence that I got to pull off with a lot of stunt players and technical aspects to it. That’s always a big challenge for me, but I enjoy the thrill. There are some moments with the car, there are some moments with the girl, and there are some moments with the guns, but you more or less have to play it in the same vein the whole way through. I like those action elements because it’s sort of a surprise technical challenge to us; we wonder how the hell we’re going to pull that off on the time and the budget.
Is it true that you have special suits that will actually stretch and move with you when you fight because a regular suit just couldn’t hold up?
Yeah. I don’t know what they’ve got in it—spandex or something—but whatever it is stretches the thing out. Otherwise, you couldn’t move your legs. You can’t kick, you can’t twist, and you can’t hang off things. We figured that out and we got some special suits made that are bigger around the body to accommodate some of the padding you wear doing some of these things. You end up walking around like the Michelin man sometimes, trying to look like you’re still wearing your Armani suit, but you’re all padded up.
And now you have gotten a little bit banged up on set, haven’t you?
Once or twice.
Is it frightening to go into this, or do you eventually develop immunity to the fear?
You just have to go for it. There’s really no time for fear. Nothing is allowed to happen that’s really unsafe, and we’ve done 24 episodes now, so we know our boundaries and what we can and can’t pull off.
I guess it’s not all fighting and chases because you met your wife on the set.
I did. She was in the first episode of season one. She was the guest lead for the episode, the beautiful, beautiful woman that she is, and she came back and forth because of the schedule over a period of several months just to film that single episode because it took place in so many different locations. And, we kind of hit it off and would hit it off again, and sort of ran with it after that. Then, we met again a little later down the line and we’ve been together ever since.
Now, Frank is a bit of a wild man behind the wheel. I can’t help but wonder, what kind of driver you are when you’re not on camera.
A very safe driver. I don’t drive a sports car; I drive a big old Jeep Commander built in 2007. We’ve been in many, many trips, and safe is all I can say. Very safe.