Until now London-born actor Ed Skrein was most famously known for his role as Daario Naharis, the mercenary, in Game of Thrones, however Skrein has now been cast as Frank Martin, in The Transporter Legacy, the fourth outing of EuropaCorp franchise which, backed by Luc Besson, has made a global star out of fellow UK actor Jason Statham

Glass spoke to the Central St Martins’ fine art graduate, the music-obsessed Skrein, who was working as a sports teacher before starring in (his best friend), Plan B’s 2012  highly rated crime drama, Ill Manors, to find out more about this charismatic young actor. EuropaCorp CEO Christophe Lambert said in Variety magazine about Skrein, “We searched everywhere to find a fresh face who had the potential to become an action movie star and we’ve found the right match with Ed Skrein, who’s not only a great actor but also has enough charisma and physical stamina to play Frank Martin with brio.”

So Ed, you are now The Transporter, which is quite an acheivement. How does it feel to be the face of this action-packed  film franchise that’s success has skyrocketed with each new release?
Besides from being a really enjoyable shoot, it was a very empowering one on a personal level as well. It’s been five months now since I’ve led the franchise and I think I shot about 52 days all in all and I felt empowered knowing that I was able to take on something that is so large. It was such a relaxed environment too, people talk to me about pressure and all I can do is laugh – it’s hilarious, I’m having the greatest time of my life. Single mums in the inner city, they know pressure. At the moment, it’s all still in that conceptual stage in my mind so I won’t be able to really take it all in until it’s released, but it certainly felt good.

What qualities do you think you have inside of you to channel a new-gen model of The Transporter in its fourth, fifth and sixth titles in the series?
I’m not sure! … I must say that from the beginning I felt very relaxed and natural with the role, it’s one of the few auditions for a role that I knew I could get into from the word go. I think being at ease with everything early on was important.


This is naturally going to attract a lot of attention on you. How do you feel about the prospect of this?
All I can say is, I love my work, and after a year in which I feel I have creatively fulfilled myself it’s great to slip back into an anonymous London life at the moment which I really do enjoy leading. My good friend Neil Maskell taught me what is the perfect thing – to have an extraordinary career and a very ordinary life. As much as possible, I’d like to keep it that way. It’s nice to be appreciated and respected but I always feel like once the projects are out there, they are for everyone else and not me, so I don’t make a habit of reading message boards or waiting for the world and his wife’s responses. I’m better at taking criticism than compliments in that respect, so I wouldn’t say I am all that fussed.

You have been working with the award-winning French film pioneer Luc Besson, who was largely behind the original Transporter film series, so could you tell us a little bit about what you learnt from him during this process?
I had to go to Paris for the second, three-and-a-half hour audition with Luc and that was really empowering too. You can have a half an hour conversation with the man and take away something to hold onto for life, he’s an immensely creatively driven type of person and in that way, an actor’s dream.

It’s been a busy year for you Ed, considering that you have a number of new titles due for release very soon, from Northmen: A Viking Saga to Sword of Vengeance and Tiger House, is remaining an active schedule important for you?
Whenever people see me at work, they’ll usually see me skipping up and down, smiling, jumping around and laughing because I simply love working. But away for work I’m actually quite boring come to think of it! That’s how much I love working, if it’s the kind of project that pushes me creatively too then it really brings that side of me out. This year I’ve had the opportunity to let myself go in all of my newest roles because those no intention to work for the sake of working, it’s more like an addiction to creative expression. Without sounding like a complete pretentious wanker of course.


How would you say your roles have progressed since your thespian beginnings in 2012 and certainly soon after you become a recipient of Screen International 2013’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’?
It’s been amazing because I am at a point where I can now look back and think about all of the people that I have really learnt from, the epiphanies that I’ve had at certain points throughout my career so far and all that. From the first movie, Ill Manners, where I played opposite Riz Ahmed, who taught me so much, I have learnt more and more about the craft and then progressively about making it more enjoyable for myself. At the beginning I put too much pressure on myself but now I’m finding my place more comfortably and I owe a lot of that to the fascinating people that I have been lucky enough to meet.  More recently The Transporter has taught me a lot about the high-octane action side of film and the technicalities of such a role in such an unstoppable franchise. Just talking about all of this kind of stuff now gets me so excited about the possibilities of the future, as well as the challenges that lay ahead and of course, the many, many people. I’ve learnt a lot, but I’ve still got a lot of growing to do.

Going back to your past academic life, you graduated from Central St. Martin’s with a BA Hons in Fine Art, this was quite a starting point for you, now one of the screen’s most promising young stars of the day, what made you choose to originally go down this route and what did you learn during your time there?
Originally there was no option for me because fine art was the love of my life and I say fine art, but I actually mean mark making. Painting was all that occupied me throughout my entire secondary school life compared to all of the other subjects. I just fell in love with it. I had an amazing teacher, Ms Snowfill, who was a phenomenal driving force and really believed in me, which was a nice change from spending my time looking out the window daydreaming in every other class.

In art, I was the first person to put their hand up, I’d spend my lunchtimes working on art projects and it was that much of a passion of mine that there was no other routes for me to go down. CSM presented me with a place that specialised in fine art and aside from that, I was coming into contact with so many people from so many different walks of life. Much like learning from those around me conceptually and creatively when it comes to film, I think I was able to do the same thing during my time there. I look back on my time there with such fondness.

How did things take a turn from fine art to acting?
When I was in my third year at art school I was still enjoying it, but I happened to come upon a cultural revolution of sorts that was centred around North London, the underground UK hip hop scene. Seeing people leading up off their own back and touring around the world, putting out releases and designing clothes gave me first-hand contact with such new entrepreneurs. At that time I felt that I could creatively explore a number of ways to express myself and that’s when I slipped into helping out some of my closest friends with their cinematic ventures. Being exposed to a lot of hard work was where and when it happened.


Of course, you have also been very vocal in expressing your passion for music, something which has seen you range from trying your hand at MC’ing, touring throughout Europe and the rest of the UK on the festival scene and also performing with acts such as Foreign Beggars, Plan B, Asian Dub Foundationand Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee. Could you possibly elaborate on whereabouts this derives from?
You know, if you cut me I feel like I’d bleed music. Every time I psych myself up in my trailer before a scene I have to be listening to the right music, when I am at home I am listening to music first thing in the morning in the shower, it follows me everywhere. Honestly, there is rarely a time when I am not listening to music. It’s hard to say whereabouts it comes from, I just follow what fires me up, gives me passion, the things that bring about that gut feeling in my stomach.

Building on this, you strike me as a diverse talent with interest in a number of fields. Have you ever had a grand scheme for your life and if so, where do you see it taking you?
My grand scheme is to always be happy, to smile and satisfy the fire in my belly. That’s why I feel so happy that I feel satisfied creatively at this point in my life. It’s served me extremely well to remain excited about new procreative projects, that’s what keeps me feeling alive. My friends have been mentioning recently that we are starting to get old now, but for me, I’m 31, I don’t feel like I am 21 or 41, or anything else for that matter, I’m just enjoying each day on a day-to-day basis and keeping up the same momentum.

 by Liam Feltham

All photographs by Justin van Vliet

The Transporter Legacy will be in the cinema June 2015

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