One of very few English actors to find success in American action films, Jason Statham was an untrained unknown when director Guy Ritchie cast him in a close-to-home role as a con artist in his directorial debut "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" (1998). Praised for its fresh visual style and quick wit, the film defined a new era of action caper and helped establish Statham as the go-to-guy for handsome, cockney outlaws in action thrillers like "The Italian Job" (2003) and "Cellular" (2004). His background as a professional athlete and his proficiency in martial arts and gutsy physical stunts were not so unusual for an action star, but his accent and unique persona as a streetwise Londoner added an extra layer of appeal and enabled him to break through to U.S. audiences. Stratham enjoyed a growing international fan base, thanks to several action franchises, including "The Transporter" (2002) and "Crank" (2006), both of which spawned commercially successful sequels. Meanwhile, he was able to show off his acting chops in "The Bank Job" (2008), a smart crime thriller based on a real-life 1971 robbery. From there, he joined the steroid-laden cast of "The Expendables" (2010) and tackled the Charles Bronson role in "The Mechanic" (2011). Because of his high-octane films and international appeal with moviegoers of both genders, Statham emerged as one of the 21 century's most bankable action stars.