Jude Law lives out his James Bond childhood fantasy in Spy
Brit actors Jude Law and Jason Statham get in touch with their funny side and spoof their respective suave and tough-guy personas in Spy
As a child, Jude Law always wanted to be James Bond.
"It's a religion in the UK, James Bond," says the 42-year-old English actor.
No, he was never called to fill 007's shoes, but his childhood fantasy of playing a secret agent is finally fulfilled in his new flick Spy.
The movie was inspired by the Bond movies and filmed in a similar visual style, with sweeping shots, exotic locations and action sequences.
But it is a comedy, written, directed and produced by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) and starring his go-to leading lady Melissa McCarthy.
We are in the Diamond Lounge of the Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, US.
Law, dapper in a Rick Owens suit, has just stepped off stage after presenting a clip of Spy to the National Association of Theatre Owners, who are in Sin City for their annual convention CinemaCon, where they are shown upcoming products by the film studios.
These are the people who book movies for their cinemas and judging by the reception Spy got the previous night, it is going to be a hit.
Opening here tomorrow, Spy sees Law as Bradley Fine, a slick, self-involved CIA agent, always dressed to the nines, completing his missions without a hair out of place.
His partner is Susan Cooper (McCarthy), who labours in a gloomy basement office in Washington DC, feeding him intel through his earpiece and generally saving his life about once a day.
She is secretly in love with him, but Fine only has eyes for his mirror, raising them once in a while to admire the bevy of beauties who seem to surround him wherever he goes.
When he falls off the grid, Cooper decides to go rescue him.
And, as they say, hilarity ensues, in Hungary, France and Italy.
Law sends up his own suave image and playboy reputation in Spy. Known for his dramatic filmography, he has not attempted laugh-out-loud comedies since, well, ever.
Which is why he had the time of his life - and experienced a steep learning curve - shooting Spy and taking his first proper stab at the genre.
"The script was fantastically funny and her (McCarthy's) process is remarkable.
"The hardest thing was keeping myself together watching her extraordinary ability to mire any joke a thousand ways. It's a real technique and she's masterful at it.
"I had to keep a straight face and keep myself in the moment and not ruin it for her and the camera."
He explains the Feig-McCarthy way of working.
"The process is that you follow the script and then Paul and Melissa have alternatives. They're called 'alts'.
"So then you do it again, but with all different kinds of versions and different jokes.
"As soon as you go in this direction, Melissa will riff and go in that direction, so you've got to really hold onto your seat and trust it.
"But watching her at work was one of the highlights of the whole experience."
US actress McCarthy, 44, is similarly complimentary of her co-star.
She raves: "I think a lot of people are pretty and it's really a dime a dozen.
"But (with Jude) the pretty goes away because you realise he's really smart, he's very nice. He had one of his kids with him and they were so sweet together.
"When you get all of that personality, you realise that this handsome man that is known for being handsome is a hell of an actor and he's a really great person."
MAN OF MANY INTERESTS
The father of five is also always keeping an eye out for new young directors to work with. He runs a production company and hopes to direct someday.
He is a theatre lover and has appeared on the West End and Broadway stages. The last time was in 2009, when he played Hamlet at both venues and received a Tony nomination.
Physically fit and athletic, Law is also an avid sports enthusiast and art aficionado and still makes time for leisure.
"I follow Tottenham Hotspur, English rugby, English cricket and I love tennis.
"And I have a room in my house full of bits and pieces of art and I like drawing and painting.
"I like climbing, I love being a dad, I love reading and I go to the movies all the time."
From tough guy to silly spy
The one thing you probably do not know about action hero Jason Statham is that he is funny.
But the world will soon have a chance to get acquainted with his hitherto hidden talent in Spy, where he almost steals the show from leading lady Melissa McCarthy.
He plays Rick Ford, the dim-witted but deadly serious spy who gets compromised in the field and has to cede his place to McCarthy's character.
Furious at this turn of events, he quits the CIA, then meddles at every opportunity in the rescue mission surrounding Jude Law's missing agent Bradley Fine, turning up at the most inconvenient places and throwing everything into more chaos.
Who knew that delivering lunatic monologues in a deadpan, threatening way could be so hilarious?
"What I ended up doing in the finished film is probably about double or triple to what it was in the script," Statham tells M at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills.
"Originally, it was a very small turn and then the part just expanded as we were shooting. (Director) Paul (Feig) would give me more stuff to do. He would have on Post-it notes lots of alternate lines, so he was giving me the opportunity to look like it was being improvised.
"There was no way to learn it - you literally have 30 seconds to try and absorb what you're about to say and so it was very off the cuff."
Spy also features a lot of stunts, naturally, and the 47-year-old English martial artist-actor Statham takes pride in doing his own.
"I've never refused a stunt to this day ever. The only people who get in my way are the producers because they are always concerned about something going wrong.
"It's frustrating because I always want to do more than the insurance will allow me. But I do 100 per cent of every fight you ever see."
Statham, who has his own chef, works out regularly, something that changes according to the injury of the day.
"I've been covered in scars and bangs and bruises ever since I was a kid. I do Olympic lifts, I do fight training, I do a lot of sparring with a couple of friends."
Despite his unexpected rib-tickling turn in Spy, do not expect Statham to detour too far from his trademark.
"Yeah, I've been pigeonholed for years. I don't have any choice," he says with a laugh.
"I grew up watching people like Bruce Lee and if I saw Bruce Lee in a movie I'd want to see him do action. I wouldn't want to see Bruce Lee play a lawyer in some downtrodden drama.
"So sometimes you have to let people do what they do and not sort of criticise, not be trying to push them into a different way.
"I don't have those years of training to just bury myself behind different characters. I think I've got a different career than that."
Jude Law and Jason Statham may be the super secret agents in Spy, but these women can take over their jobs any day.
1. Melissa McCarthy
Agent Cooper (Spy, 2015)
2 Jessica Alba
Marissa Wilson (Spy Kids: All The Time In The World, 2011)
3 Angelina Jolie
Evelyn Salt (Salt, 2010)
4 Diane Kruger
Bridget von Hammersmark (Inglourious Basterds, 2009)
5 Anne Hathaway
Agent 99 (Get Smart, 2008)
6 Halle Berry
Jinx Johnson (Die Another Day, 2002)
7 Uma Thurman
Emma Peel (The Avengers, 1998)