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The Iconic Action Role That Almost Killed Jason Statham

Before he found commercial success as one of the top-grossing action stars of the millennium, British actor Jason Statham took on a number of jobs to make ends meet. These included being a member of the British national diving team, male modeling, and even selling watches and goods on the street. His shady background convinced director Guy Ritchie to hire Statham for a similar part in the cult crime film "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels." The actor told Esquire that "[Ritchie] just wanted someone who was authentic ... no one knows about it unless you're in it."

With Ritchie's films like "Snatch" becoming his breakout roles, Statham would go on to star or co-star in the highly successful "Transporter" film series, "The Italian Job," "Crank," and "Killer Elite" among others. He even played a parody of his typical tough guy characters in the Melissa McCarthy comedy "Spy." Thanks to the success of his action vehicles and his role as Shaw in "The Fast and Furious" blockbusters, Statham's movies have now made billions worldwide (via The Numbers), but he has few pretensions about the work. "Sometimes I want to remind [actors], at the end of the day, they're just pretending to be somebody else."

As a veteran action star, Jason Statham is certainly no stranger to dangerous situations or filming difficult scenes. But this one movie stunt did nearly claim his life.

Statham nearly drowned during a stunt gone wrong in The Expendables 3

Jason Statham has now appeared in all three of "The Expendables" franchise installments and will also star in the upcoming fourth film. However, filming "The Expendables 3" did give him a brush with mortality.

According to Business Insider, Statham was driving a three-ton truck as part of an action scene when the vehicle's brakes unexpectedly gave out. The truck careened into the Black Sea with Statham inside, but because of his experience as a diver, the actor was able to quickly swim to the surface without any injuries. Co-star Sylvester Stallone noted the severity of the situation, commenting that "Luckily we had taken the doors off before ... If anyone else had been in that truck we would have been dead because we were all wearing heavy boots and gun belts. We would have drowned."

Statham later downplayed his escape, replying to a question about his injuries on set with "I snapped a shoelace in the very first scene" (via The Independent), but actor Terry Crews was in awe. He later told Jay Leno in an interview (via The Huffington Post) that "[Jason] gets out, swims to the top, and the truck is gone ... Let me tell you something, Jason Statham is a true bad, bad dude."