Fast, and Furious; what do those words mean to you? To some, it means the epitome of Hollywood embellishment. To others, it’s the most action-packed automotive thriller in history. To Universal, it happens to be their most successful franchise of all time! Still, to others, it was the ugly duckling that never had a chance – the movie that should have been “done with one.”
The Fast and Furious franchise is a four-billion-dollar powerhouse; it captivated audiences across the globe with the most outlandish action sequences we’ve ever seen. Yet, somehow, we still tuned in. The lowest-grossing movie, Tokyo Drift, would only do $65 million domestically, but the flop did little to deter the freight-train of momentum that was building behind the brand. It all seemed to come together so powerfully; there seemed like no way it could lose steam!
But, if you took a look behind the scenes, you’d see a different story! The Fast and Furious production was riddled with technical difficulties, casting problems, and internal strife that almost tore the series apart before it really got going. (Most people don’t realize how close the first movie was to ending the legacy at one!)
But it took – and it took the world by storm! Despite the impossibly far-fetched scenarios that were seemingly interweaved into every plot twist, we tuned in to watch the underground street culture explode across the silver screen, time and time again.
The ninth installment in the series is currently in the works, and a lot has happened since Paul Walker’s original showdown with the Charger! With all of the ridiculous showmanship just around the corner, let’s take a look at some of the rumors that got us this far, as we wait for another heavy dose of the off-set drama that’s probably unfolding right now!
She’s a raging ball of fire in a 5’5”-frame with enough attitude to make Kane West step. Her rugged personality would serve her justice when filling bad girl roles – she doesn’t even have to fake it! One thing she did fake, however, was driving!
She didn’t even have a license when she auditioned for the role of Letty Ortiz and was forced to quickly get it, or lose the role! Yeah, the girl you saw power shifting that 72-speed 240SX in the movie…could barely parallel park a Datsun.
Never mind the fact that the physical mechanics of the scene were impossible to start with – it was a 13-minute action sequence, raging at breakneck speed, down a runway with no end! Actually, it does have an end…we just don’t know where it is.
You’ll find wild estimates (all calculated with an impressive amount of studious math) ranging from 18 to 28 miles long (95,000’ – 147,000’), depending on the calculation method. Compare that to the “next” longest (paved) runway in the world, China’s Qamdo Bamda Airport (at a puny 3.5 miles, or 18,045’), and it kind of ruins the continuity between reality, and whatever that was supposed to be.
Michelle Rodriguez wasn’t the only person not to have a license during casting, and we’re left scratching our heads at how two of the best looking females, in one of the fastest car thrillers, could be so pedestrian! Like Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster would also have to obtain a driver’s license for the Fast and Furious production.
A Huffington Post source claims Brewster had to pass the first time or be “dropped…due to insurance requirements.” Sitting on a $12 million net worth, it’s a good thing she passed (lest she still be walking).
Why? Because hidden references are a fun way to interweave two otherwise unrelated universes. For those of you who were paying close attention, you may have noticed a scene in Herbie: Fully Loaded that reveals a black Charger – crumpled up and covered in a layer of dust.
At the time, it had only been four years since the original Fast and Furious release, and it didn’t take long for fans to start making connections; the wrecked Charger in the 2005 Herbie movie was the same hero car from the first Fast and Furious!
It could have been a thing! It was so glorious on screen; we just wanted to believe it! Despite the many laments over a “lack of chemistry” between the furious lovers, by all the self-proclaimed movie critics out there (because they could have done it better), Diesel and Rodriguez had a little “thing” for each other.
It began to bud after working together on the first movie, but it wasn’t to last long; Michelle is as free a spirit as the wind is wild. And Vin Diesel? Well…he’s Vin Diesel!
A rare love would develop between the cast - she may have thought Walker was a pretty-boy in the beginning, but Paul’s genuine selflessness would quickly win over anyone near him.
“If anyone was a voice of integrity,” recalled Rodriguez, “it was him.” (Daily Beast). “If he was going to shoot in a movie, he learned how to be a sniper. If he was doing to do a fight in a movie, he freaking trained for six months! He was real!”
Vin Diesel is the muscle-head we love to love. Proof of this is evident in how much silliness we can overlook, and still not lose respect for the guy. Can he deadlift a Lykan Hypersport by the tow hooks? Naaah; but we laughed through it, and loved it for what it was.
How can you not like him? He bought his daughter this SS 396 Chevelle from the studio! He says it’s because he was driving it the day she was born (also, it was his favorite Furious ride of all-time).
Or at least the title isn’t original. In fact (according to 360 News), to use the “Fast and Furious” title for the movie, a man named Roger Corman had to be involved. “Who’s this jabroney, and why do we care?” you ask?
Well, that jabroney happened to hold licensing rights to the name for an eponymous movie he directed in 1955. That’s right; there was a Fast and Furious in the ‘50s! It featured a renegade truck driver, on the run with a hostage – and a stolen XJ120!
There’s more to it than that, but the long and short of it is – somebody sued the production of Ryan Gosling’s Drive. It was over a number of curious reasons; but one of which was because the trailers depicted more driving than the movie actually had!
This dummy thought Gosling was the next Vin Diesel! When the court case didn’t go her way, she tried to throw wild accusations at the judge (according to the Hollywood Reporter) for not taking her side, sending the whole fiasco into an even deeper pile of litigation.
Walker touched us in a way that few actors can, and many of us didn’t know how much we loved him until he was gone. Universal would honor the memory of Paul by “setting him free,” rather than tastelessly recreating the heart-wrenching tragedy that already stung so badly.
It would be Paul’s legacy that would implore Vin Diesel to keep pushing forward with the project, and with such diligence. “This movie has to be amazing,” explained Diesel, “because of Paul.” (Screen Rant). In his own way, he inspired everyone to fulfill the legacy, the best way they knew how.
NPR cites Wesley Morris, a Boston Globe film critic, as calling the Furious franchise, “the most progressive force in Hollywood.” When you think about it, it kind of is. Morris continues to observe that, “it basically promotes [racial equality] as a very normal thing.” Race is hardly even referenced in the entire film.
Instead, they focus on an explicit love of cars, a passion for racing, and a deplorable propensity for impossible sequences that could only thrive in Hollywood. Say what you will about the Furious franchise, it’s a lead-by-example message of equality and acceptance (without having to scream from the mountain tops), and in that respect, it’s a masterpiece.
The idea for The Fast and the Furious came from a Vibe magazine article about underground street racing culture on the East Coast. Intrigued by its mysterious allure, Rob Cohen, the future creator of The Fast and the Furious, had to check it out first hand.
He found an old automotive journalist, according to a 2018 Angela Bao article on Reach Further, that was willing to take him out to see the action firsthand. Rob was immediately sold on the idea that this could be a movie, but even he had no idea it would become a multi-billion-dollar institution.
The original movie was supposed to be called “Redline,” according to Motor Authority. Since then, we’ve seen a Redline released overseas (which was basically Ash Ketchum hitting puberty, putting the Pokeballs down, and getting a driver’s license).
Thankfully, somebody had the foresight to forgo that painfully crude moniker in favor of some emotion. Redline is simply a desirable state of engine operation. “Fast and Furious,” however, conveys both blistering speed, and intense emotion – two critical ingredients to the saga that would be lost without them.
Race Wars erupted in Furious 7 when Letti put the hammer down on an Audi with a heavy dose of Mopar muscle that actually made Vin Diesel’s biceps jealous. But that’s not the most interesting part of the story! (And honestly, his biceps didn’t stand a chance.)
This scene happened to be filled with actual street racing enthusiasts! It’s just a small component of the elaborate framework that is the Furious franchise, but it gives the scene a level of authenticity you can’t buy – those are real cheers, from real race fans!
When you run out of ways to blow your audience away, other surplus should never be overlooked as a viable option. The Chieftain tank would have likely been the best way to dispatch any pesky four-wheelers in the chase scene (especially with a top speed of only 30mph!).
Instead, they used it as a 52-ton wrecking ball, with tracks. The total damage toll throughout the series (according to CNBC) is estimated at over $500 million! Not exactly chump change, but definitely a worthwhile investment!
Why does the crew just stop at the end of the 28-mile runway when the cargo plane comes to a smoldering halt on top of Dom’s car? That’s because they can’t believe what they just saw either! The stunts have reached an epic level of impossible that sometimes have us wondering how we even got this far!
Fans were more than quick to point out that the infamous burnout/wheelie heard ‘round the world (in Dom’s Charger) couldn’t have occurred for a number of reasons, namely traction. Burnouts require an absence of traction, while wheel stands require nothing but.
Rule of thumb: Movie productions don’t put their superstars (or film crew) in the way of undue harm, just for a stunt! Not to say that filming wasn’t dangerous, but the risk is mitigated as much as possible.
The famous “train crossing scene” is a perfect example. This shot was actually filmed twice-over (one shot for the cars, one for the train). They were seamlessly edited together to allude to the presence of danger, but Dom and Brian could have parked on the tracks, switched cars, and resumed racing without any danger.
He’s a mainstay in the Furious franchise, and a big-box brand Hollywood; Vin Diesel is one of the most recognizable faces in film. Life wasn’t always so fruitful for the muscle-bound actor, however. His first film role was uncredited in 1990; his second role would be a self-produced film (Milti-Facial, 1994) about a struggling actor.
Flash forward to the Furious franchise, and this multi-facial powerhouse is turning down roles in the lucrative Furious franchise because, according to Uproxx, he didn’t like the script (and he wanted to do Riddick)!
It’s Universal’s biggest franchise and the ninth-largest in history. According to Forbes, the Furious brand has already raked in over $3.9 billion dollars worldwide (as of March 2017). That’s a lot of money! With it, you could buy; nearly four F-35C Lightning fighter jets; the Solomon Islands (four times over); or five round-trips to the moon!
Vin Diesel was apprehensive about messing up a good thing, however; according to Hollywood, he told all the CEOs and franchise owners, “You can’t do this again. You can’t touch it. You have to leave it alone.” Imagine if we’d have listened!
With some of the most outlandish stunt coordinating ever seen, the Furious franchise captivated the attention of the entire planet! The original movie grossed $204 million, worldwide; the worst film (Tokyo Drift) grossed $62 million (in the same market). Furious 7 would bring in $1.52 billion!
It’s as if the series was written in the stars – but was it? Between the Diesel’s lack of interest, director abandonment, and a plethora of other technical difficulties, there was a long time when the real “fate of the Furious” was actually in serious question!
Has anybody ever wondered whatever happened to Edwin, Ja Rule’s short-lived Furious character? See, Universal had two separate scripts written for the second movie, one with – and one without – Diesel. The script without Diesel focused a lot more on Ja Rule’s character, Edwin (to fill all the gaps with a familiar face).
Apparently, however, Ja Rule thought he was too big to be “2 Fast” OR “2 Furious,” and literally just started ducking director John Singleton’s phone calls until the director called Ludacris, instead. Luda’s humble response to Singleton’s offer was a little different, according to Grantland; “What? Yeah! Anything you do, I want to be a part of!” (Ludacris Net Worth: $25 million. Ja Rule Net Worth: $8 million [Celebrity Net Worth].)
The production tends to opt for expensive stunts, whenever possible. There’s just something oddly compelling about the actual crumpling and twisting of metal! This meant that actually dropping cars from a C-130 (and having “aerial cameramen follow close behind) was the only way to get the “car drop” scene just right.
According to NPR, this stunt was rehearsed for weeks, with nothing but test drops to work out the kinks. During one of these flights, a fuel system malfunction started to dump fuel from the right wing, causing a few intense moments of actual panic as the pilot crackled over the radio that they were leaking fuel!
Sources: Vulture, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Edmunds, 360 News, The Guardian, NPR, Reach Further, Motor Authority, Grantland.