The F&F franchise on the surface seems like an actor’s dream job. To be part of a movie universe that’s spanned 18 years only happens to a few lucky individuals in the business. Plus it offers money, fame, and the chance to get behind the wheel of some of the best cars around—sort of.
To the public, it looks like the series’ top stars, such as Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, and Jason Statham, are all calling the shots. They’re the ones signing autographs, buying flashy cars off the set, and rolling up to premieres where they get to stroll the red carpet surrounding by adoring fans. The reality though is that Universal Studios signs their checks, and therefore, calls the shots.
The entire cast of the F&F films have rules they have to follow. Even though they’re a tough bunch in the public’s eye—after all, who's really going to pick a fight with Michelle Rodriguez? They still have to follow the studio's wishes. At the end of the day, no one wants to lose their job, especially on such a lucrative franchise. That’s why they’ve decided to put their heads down and follow the rules.
We’re going to look at the rules the cast of F&F has to follow both on and off the set. It may look like being a cast member is all glitz and glamour, but even Vin Diesel—the series' longest running star—has to follow these rules if he doesn't want his character axed by the screenwriters. A warning to those who haven’t seen the movies yet, there are spoilers throughout!
Don’t forget to check out these Fast and Furious behind the scenes photos that change everything.
16 They Have To Go To Racing School in Las Vegas
Whether drivers have a license or not, they eventually have to go to racing school. It makes sense considering the movies feature so many scenes behind the wheel. According to The Wrap, some of the top stars in the franchise had to go and even got the chance to drive Formula One cars. Those stars included Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Vin Diesel, and Jordana Brewster.
It seems less necessary for the later films, considering they’re less about street racing and more about heists. Then again, they still feature lots of fast cars, thus highlighting the need to get actors up to speed.
15 They Have To Get A Driver’s License (Because Some Stars Didn’t Have One)
It’s hard to believe it, but a couple of stars didn’t have driver licenses upon joining the F&F cast. According to Ranker, the stars in question were both Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster. While you don’t have to be a certified astronaut to play one on film, getting a driver’s license is different for a film that's largely about automobiles.
The filmmakers made Rodriguez and Brewster get their licenses, thus establishing it as a result for stars going forward. The site goes on to report that Devon Aoki, who starred in 2 Fast 2 Furious, also didn’t have a license before filming.
14 They Have to Drive Dummy Cars Instead Of The Real Thing
The actors don’t always get to interact with the awesome cars audiences drool over. From a practical standpoint, it’d be too dangerous and difficult to shoot actors actually driving, as Mental Floss points out, cars at 100 mph. That’s when the filmmakers got an idea. Mic Rodgers, a stunt coordinator, and second unit director got a chassis that the crew could swap out with different car bodies.
This allowed actors to act like they were driving in this setup instead of the real cars, which stunt drivers would handle. We bet it disappointed Paul Walker not to be able to drive the real thing in every shot, being that he’s a huge car enthusiast.
13 Settle Beef With Co-Stars Behind The Scenes, Not In Public
It’s well-known that series regular Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had issues with some of his co-stars, including Vin Diesel. According to IMDb, Diesel—who not only stars in the films but also acts as an executive producer—had made some changes to the shooting schedule, even going so far as to cancel some of Johnson's scenes.
Even Johnson aired some of his frustration over Instagram saying, "My female co-stars are always amazing and I love 'em. My male co-stars, however, are a different story.” The two did, however, have a personal meeting behind closed doors to hash things out, which is the proper way to resolve differences, and a rule the cast has to follow.
12 They Have To Improvise On Set
The actors can’t just come aboard, memorize the script, and phone in their performance. They have to contribute more to the role while on set. Rankerreports that Paul Walker and Matt Schulze ended up improvising their fight scene during The Fast and the Furious. That would help prepare them for the sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, which the same source notes were largely improvised.
This was an approach the director, John Singleton, took while shooting the cast. That means a lot of the dialogue was ad-libbed, many action sequences—including the Corvette and Mustang freeway scene—were done on the fly, and even the crew made up parts of the end as they went along.
11 They Have To Act Without Knowing How The Story Will Pan Out
Even the filmmakers left the cast of F&F in the dark at times. One of the most prominent examples includes Letty’s character played by Michelle Rodriguez. After she meets her unfortunate “end” in the fourth film, Rodriguez was just as surprised as everyone else to see her character back at the end of Fast Five.
According to Factinate, she found out the same time as everyone else—when she watched the movie play in the theater. That must have been news to her! If someone stars in F&F, they may not know what all the filmmakers are concocting up with their footage, but they have to follow their direction no matter what.
10 Can’t Have Big Ego
Remember Ja Rule from the original The Fast and the Furious movie? We don’t either, because his film career has all but faded into obscurity. There’s a reason he didn’t come back for the sequel though, despite the studio offering him what Cinema Blendconfirms was $500,000.
“Ja got too big for himself,” said John Singleton, the director of 2 Fast 2 Furious, as per the same source. “He was acting like he was too big to be in the sequel.” That’s when the director reached out to Ludacris to come aboard on the film, who ended up taking Ja Rule’s spot in the franchise.
9 They Can’t Talk About Spoilers
Film studios want to surprise audiences. That’s how they sell the most tickets and give people a reason to crowd into theaters opening weekend. Yet if the cast members have big mouths, they better not reveal any major plot points, or they might get canned.
It’s a temptation for the cast to let some details slip about the next installment coming out. With all the interviews and press leading up to the film though—which we go into more detail about later on—it can be a real challenge for the cast to stay tight-lipped. It’s a rule they don’t want to break though.
8 They Have To Do Press Tours Leading Up To Film’s Opening
The F&F cast has long detailed contracts that stipulate the studio’s wishes in return for their being generously compensated. Part of that agreement includes all the work they have to do even when they’re finished acting in the movie. They have to do rounds of press junkets, make public appearances, and attend premieres. If they don’t follow this rule, they can kiss their days of starring in the F&F films goodbye.
At least they don’t have to act as much during this period, as it allows them to share honest stories from the shoot while being themselves. This is an important rule the cast members have to honor if they want their paychecks.
7 Contractually Obligated To Appear In Multiple Films
If the filmmakers and audiences like the cast members, it can be both a good and bad thing. The good news is they get to make more money and won’t have to look for other work. The bad news is it’ll take up more of their lives and prevent them from taking on other roles.
That’s part of the game though when actors join this franchise. Ludacris provided insight to the site AListDaily into the kind of contract the studio gets their actors in. “And now we’ve got nine and ten planned for you,” said Ludacris, referencing the studio’s proposal for more films. “Let me just keep renegotiating my contract. Sounds good to me!”
6 Have To Beg To Do Scenes They Want (Like A Fight Sequence)
It seems like starring in F&F would afford the actors all the clout in the world. That’s just not the case though. Ludacris, who’s already gained fame for his rap career, has become an indispensable fan-favorite character of the series. His character is more of a tech-savvy genius who isn’t in many fight sequences.
That got Ludacris wondering why he couldn’t be a part of a scene that allowed Tej to take part in fisticuffs. Not only did he beg on multiple occasions, but according to The Wrap, he even went so far as to put a demo reel of him fighting for Vin Diesel and the director.
5 Even If They Write Your Character Off It Isn't The End
We have to expand on an earlier point involving Michelle Rodriguez not knowing her character was alive until she saw Fast Five in theaters. If true, then there had to be a sense of obligation on her part to reprise the role. It’s not like the filmmakers were just going to throw that in there and forget about bringing her back, right?
Yet it seems strange they wouldn’t tell her sooner. That would mean that the cast is never done with the series, even when their characters get written off. In a sense, these actors have no escape from the franchise even when they’re years removed from the role.
4 Have To Act With Green Screens Instead Of The Real Thing
Not every day on the set is out on the streets or in the "real world.” Many of it takes place in studios, behind closed doors where there are rooms surrounded with green screens. It’s already part of an actor’s job to pretend—they take on characters and backgrounds that are different from their own.
Yet acting with a green screen where there’s little to reference around them can end up being more than they bargained for. That’s what the cast has to abide by when they join a major action series like F&F where many scenes are impossible to create without the use of visual effects.
3 They Can’t Get Attached To The Cars Since The Filmmakers Destroy Them
There are some crazy cars built for the Fast and Furious movies that we had to dedicate an entire article to them. Some of the cast members are even lucky enough to have scenes where they actually work with rare, well-known cars for hours at a time. They can’t get wrapped up in how beautiful and cool the cars look though, or they’ll only get let down.
According to Factinate, the film studio has destroyed the vehicles after shooting wrapped before. This means the cast better not get attached. The same source notes they did so in order to prevent fans from using the cars to recreate dangerous scenes from the movies at home.
2 Have To Perform Stunts and Learn Fight Choreography
The Fast and Furious movies offer audiences cool cars, beautiful actresses, and thrilling action sequences. It can take filmmakers months to plan out a complex fight sequence or freeway chase. With many action parts involving around hand-to-hand combat between two characters, it requires them to spend hours learning the fight choreography.
On top of that, many of the series’ actors will even perform their own stunts. This saves the visual effects artists from having to interpose the actor’s face over a stunt double’s. If actors aren’t willing to follow this rule, then they wouldn’t last a day on the set of a Fast and Furious film.
1 Be Willing To Travel To Exotic Locations
With the magic of moviemaking, film studios are able to recreate places around the world in a large room surrounded by four walls. Whether it’s through set design or visual effects, actors don’t always have to leave the comfort of a studio.
It’s different on a F&F set though, where they travel to exotic locations around the world. Actors are going to have to get used to traveling around the globe if they want to star in F&F. One thing audiences like about these movies is how international they are and involve many different settings for the actors to trek in.
Sources: IMDb, Fascinate, The Wrap, AListDaily, Cinema Blend, Mental Floss