If you've seen any television series or movie with action sequences, you've likely seen David Leitch, or at least his handiwork without even knowing it. Leitch exploded into the Hollywood spotlight in recent years thanks to the award-winning work of 87eleven, the stunt design company from him and partner Chad Stahelski - the pair directed and launched the John Wick franchise.
Leitch then went on to solo direct Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw which brings us to our latest interview with him. I first met David years ago on the set of The Wolverine where he was leading the second unit, and that's where he caught our attention, alongside his work doubling for Jeremy Renner and Brad Pitt. It's his team by the way, that did second unit work and stunts for Captain America: Civil War. He's also worked on TRON: Legacy, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Ninja Assassin, and Dracula Untold, just to name a few.
To promote Hobbs & Shaw's digital and home video release, we worked with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to head to London and try out the most iconic car in the film - the McLaren 720S. This supercar was driven by Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw and so we drove it ourselves at Silverstone Circuit then visited McLaren HQ to see how it's made. It's there, in this incredibly high-tech, sci-fi-esque building where I also caught up with Leitch to ask some pressing questions about the first Fast & Furious film spinoff, the absence of a key character (Luke Evans' Owen Shaw), the future of the franchise, and the future for David who has Ubisoft's The Division coming up for Netflix, and many more projects from his own company, 87North.
Screen Rant's Rob Keyes: You've had many big projects in recent years so my team has talked to you a lot recently, but you and I met seven years ago… on a boat. I'm testing you to see if you can remember when this was.
David Leitch: Okay, on a boat…
David Leitch: Down under…
You were shooting second unit on The Wolverine, and we took a boat to set. There was a small group of us, but you told the most amazing stories about being a stunt double and doing stunt coordination. You talked about Hansel and Gretel, and then we saw you shoot a night shoot with Hugh Jackman doing amazing things with ninjas. I thought, “This guy should get his own superhero movie,” and I thought, “Maybe he should do Gambit.”
Then, of course, you got Deadpool 2 and then you got this. So, that's all to say congratulations. It's very well-deserved.
David Leitch: Thank you. By the way, I love that film. And I wish more people saw the extended cut of that ninja stuff, because we did some really great [work]. We were driving motorcycles on roofs, like…
And Hugh threw a motorcycle at someone!
David Leitch: It was a great sequence.
But here we are, the task at hand, at McLaren HQ. Today I got to drive the 720S, one of the hero cars in the movie - which is still blowing my mind. I wanted to ask you what made that the right car for Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw character?
Deckard Shaw: Jason had a lot to say about his character, and I think there was only one car that came out of his mouth pretty much, let's be honest. He was like, “It's a McLaren, or I'm not doing the movie.” And we’re like, “Really?” What if we don't get product placement or whatever? And he’s like, “I don't care. It's McLaren.”
But that also helped us. I think when we came here, Jason came with us and he was a great advocate. He spoke to the McLaren team, and they all had a love fest. He loves their product, and they’re really fans of him. It was helpful to have him be such a super fan of the product that we could get them on board.
With that vehicle specifically, we see some pretty wild action sequences. How do you balance upping the action over the many previous Fast and Furious films, but not going too far where the audience will check out because it gets too crazy?
David Leitch: Yeah. I mean, it's hard. It is hard, but we did sort of swing for the fences here. I think we went pretty crazy. You know, you're allowed to defy physics in the Fast world. And I always wonder: how far is too far in Fast, with the stuff that they're doing?
When Dwayne was redirecting a Tomahawk missile, it's a little bit like, “Okay.”
Great scene, though.
David Leitch: It's awesome! You go there for some of this sort of heightened reality. And that's what we love about it, because no other franchise does it. This is what Fast is, and we tried to embrace it.
There's some pretty wild tech in this film, certainly with the antagonist organization Eteon which are headquartered here at McLaren HQ. Are you able to speak to when this movie takes place? Is it present day, or could it be a little bit in the future?
David Leitch: No, it’s present day in my mind. I don't think we had a set date, and I think when you speak to technology… In terms of Brixton, his augmentation doesn't feel for me necessarily so far in the future. Having augmented reality or next generation prosthetics, things that are actually making people better and faster and stronger? We're not far off.
I heard you talk on a podcast about the reason Luke Evans’ Owens is not in this film. Because there's a lot of characters already; we're introducing Hattie. What do you think Owen is up to during this film?
David Leitch: (laughs) I don't know. I didn't have a backstory in mind for Owen’s character or where he was. But I'm sure he's doing something in Shaw's universe with Queenie, and he could arise at any time in this world. For sure.
With Queenie (Helen Mirren) and Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) and Owen (Luke Evans) and Deckard (Jason Statham)...
David Leitch: Yeah, I think there's enough there to do a Shaw movie and do a Hobbs movie. We really sort of laid the groundwork for however they wanted to take this franchise; to put them back together or sprinkle characters all over.
I have some quickfire questions from fans, if you don't mind. You worked on Tron: Legacy as a stunt coordinator. Can you make TRON 3 happen?
David Leitch: I will try. I'll call.
I was looking into your production company, 87North. I know you guys are doing the John Wick spin-off show. Do you think a TV series like that would work for the Fast and Furious franchise?
David Leitch: Yeah! I think that they should look into it. Again, there's such a great number of characters in the Fast universe. But now with Hobbs and Shaw, could you imagine Madame M, Eiza Gonzalez's character, having a TV show with her group of female assassins? It would be amazing.
You have a rich history with rated-R action films. Certainly, it’s been massively successful with John Wick, and Deadpool 2 was a big hit. And now, of course, Joker is breaking world records for R ratings. Do you think Deadpool 3 is a must now for rated-R?
David Leitch: I know it was controversial when I said it. All I was saying is that Deadpool is so resilient, that it can be anything it wants to be. That's what's so beautiful about it. And when I said PG-13 was a possibility, that's because I believe in the possibility of Deadpool being anything. It's such a magical world. But would I want it R? Absolutely. It's more fun.
My last question is for your production company, 87North, which I'm very excited about. I was reading into it and, of course, you're gonna do more action franchises and not launch new IPs. But I understand you want to branch out into other commercial and maybe other genre work, as well. Is there something you want to do specifically you haven't been able to explore yet? Whether it's a genre or something like that?
David Leitch: Yeah. I think I would love to do a horror movie. It's just finding the fresh idea. When we settle on it, that would be a great experience and really fun.
I’m in for that.
David Leitch: With great fight scenes.
Yes, of course. Rated R.
David Leitch: Rated R!
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Synopsis
For years, hulking lawman Luke Hobbs and lawless outcast Deckard Shaw have traded smack talk and body blows. But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba; “Thor: Ragnarok,” “The Dark Tower”) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever, Hobbs and Shaw must partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves. Joining the cast as Shaw’s sister Hattie, Vanessa Kirby (Mission: Impossible-Fallout, “The Crown”) “is convincing as a woman who can take care of herself” (Rafer Guzman, Newsday). Directed by David Leitch from a story by longtime Fast & Furious narrative architect Chris Morgan and a screenplay by Morgan and Drew Pearce (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Iron Man 3), Hobbs & Shaw is produced by Johnson, Statham, Morgan and Hiram Garcia (Skyscraper, Rampage).
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is available on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand.
- Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019
- Fast & Furious 9 (2020) release date: May 22, 2020