Action superstar Jason Statham (“The Transporter” and “Crank” film series) provides the voice of Tybalt, in Touchstone Pictures’ new animated comedy “Gnomeo & Juliet” in which Shakespeare’s revered tale gets a comical, off-the-wall makeover featuring garden gnomes as principal characters.

Directed by Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2”) and showcasing both classic and original songs by Elton John, “Gnomeo & Julliet” also features the voices of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as the lovestruck gnomes who have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors. But with plastic pink flamingos and thrilling lawnmower races in the mix, can this young couple find lasting happiness?

Juliet’s cousin Tybalt is a big, teenage bully of a gnome. This passionate Red is Gnomeo’s arch rival; he hates the Blues and will stop at nothing to get his way, no matter what the collateral damage. A thug, liar and cheat, Tybalt has no respect for even Lord Redbrick’s authority.

He’s completely unaware of his own incompetence, however, which makes Tybalt not only unlikable but a bit laughable. “He’s an oaf in our story,” says Asbury. “Tybalt is not a nice guy and it catches up with him.”

“Jason is a great action star with this tough-guy image that I really loved,” says the director, “and I thought Tybalt should be that. Jason gave us a really great textural voice for that character and it plays beautifully.”

Jason Statham was born in Sydenham, England, and initially made his mark as one of the top divers on the British diving team, eventually placing 12th in the world. While he trained at the famed Crystal Palace National Sports Center in London, film crews and photographers pursued him as new talent and he eventually met the executive producer of the film “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” Statham then had a meeting with director Guy Ritchie, who gave him his first role as one of the stars of the film.

Statham went on to work with Ritchie again in “Snatch,” in which he starred opposite Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro. In 1992, Statham was cast by French filmmaker Luc Besson in the title role of Frank Martin in “The Transporter.” Following, he starred as Handsome Rob in the 2003 summer blockbuster “The Italian Job,” directed by F. Gary Gray, and as the adrenaline-compromised action hero of “Crank.” Statham reprised his role of Frank Martin in “Transporter 2” and re-teamed with Jet Li in “War.”

In 2008, Statham starred in Roger Donaldson’s “The Bank Job,” the critically acclaimed true story of the 1971 Baker Street bank robbery in London. Statham also starred in the remake of “Death Race” before returning for the third installment of “The Transporter” franchise and the second “Crank” film, “Crank 2: High Voltage.”

Most recently, Statham had a starring role with an ensemble of action stars in this past summer’s hit “The Expendables,” also starring and directed by Sylvester Stallone.

Opening across the Philippines on April 13 in Digital 3D and regular format, “Gnomeo & Juliet” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.

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