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Jason Statham prepared for his role in shark thriller The Meg in the most dangerous way possible

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Apr 6, 2018, 2:21 PM EDT

British actor Jason Statham (Crank, Furious 7) is known for playing hardened criminals and heroes on the big screen, but his real-world fortitude was tested as he prepared to shoot the horror/thriller The Meg. Directed by Jon Turteltaub (National TreasureThe Sorcerer's Apprentice), the movie is about an undersea rescue mission that gets attacked by a Carcharodon megalodon (hence the title), a 75-foot prehistoric shark thought to have died out over 2 million years ago. Statham plays former Naval captain and diving expert Jonas Taylor, who will keep a level head in this Jaws meets Deep Blue Sea meets The Abyss creature feature.

In order to familiarize the cast and crew with the film's antagonist, part of pre-production took place in Fiji where Statham went diving with bull sharks. As they dwell in shallow waters and are fiercely territorial, bull sharks are among the top three types of sharks that attack humans, next to tiger sharks, and great whites. Funnily enough, it was a bull shark attack in 1916 that inspired Peter Benchley's 1974 novel Jaws

So, was Statham scared to swim with these beautiful monsters? Yes, before he took the plunge and no, once he was swimming among them. In fact, he actually recommends that everyone should do something like this in their lives!

“You know, it’s funny, because you get anxiety when you’re on the boat,” the actor, 50, told Entertainment Weekly. “But once you get in the ocean, things take a very different turn. You get very relaxed, and when you’re in their environment, it’s quite a tranquil sort of thing, the anxiety goes away completely. It’s remarkable to experience. All of the fear — or the perceived fear — is done in your own head before you get down there with them. Once you’re swimming down there with all the other divers, it’s phenomenal. It’s one of the greatest experiences you could have, for me anyway. I’m a big scuba diver fanatic. Wherever I am in the world, if I get a chance to get in the ocean, I do.”

There you have it, Jason Statham is just as tough as his onscreen counterparts. The Meg swims into a theater near you August 10.