The Fast and the Furious had initially been conceived as an unofficial remake of Point Break, but it’s spent the better part of twenty years evolving into a globe trotting billion dollar honest to God franchise. Nowadays if you go to one of these movies you’re going to get two things; unbelievable vehicular stunt work, and playful screen rapport between an ever increasing array of incredibly charismatic actors.
Seriously, this cast is getting huge. We’re at the point where Helen Mirren of all people tells the world she wants to be in a FatF movie. And then they friggin’ put Helen Mirren in a FatF movie. We could be looking at a future in which every actor in Hollywood is employed by either the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, or The Fast and the Furious. Who saw that coming back in 2001?
There’s a lot of people on the screen, there’s a lot of interpersonal dynamics, and, as with any family, there are some high profile feuds. We can’t ignore those, but we’ve got a number of pleasant surprises for you as well. Here’s just a few of the secrets of the many, many MANY cast members in The Fast and the Furious.
20 VIN DIESEL NAMED HIS DAUGHTER AFTER PAUL WALKER
Paul Walker remains a vital part of The Fast and the Furious series, even after his tragic car accident late in 2013. The filmmakers famously used a combination of CGI face replacement and body doubles to complete Walker’s part in Furious 7, then opted to send his character Brian off into retirement in The Fate of the Furious.
Art imitated life in the eighth installment of the franchise; Vin Diesel had named his real life daughter Pauline, in the movie, Dominic named his newborn child Brian. If we’re being honest, it may be a nice tribute, it’s not all that logical. Within the world of The Fast and the Furious, Brian is alive and well, and presumably still in touch with Dominic. Plus, Dominic’s baby momma had been fatally shot just days before. You’re really not going to name the kid after her instead?
Vin’s real life gesture, in addition to making more sense, is a lot sweeter. For the past few years, he’s repeatedly said that the two of them were like brothers both onscreen and off, and Walker’s presence continued to hang over Diesel even in the delivery room.
"There's no other person that I was thinking about as I was cutting this umbilical cord," said Diesel. "I just knew he was there."
19 GAL GADOT DID ALL HER OWN STUNTS IN FAST & FURIOUS 6
If you see Gal Gadot in The Fast and the Furious series, it’s impossible to conceive of a world in which she doesn’t go on to conquer Hollywood. She excels in the action scenes, she sells the movie’s only true dramatic moment (when she sacrifices herself to save Han), and she even shows a knack for comedy. Gisele makes such a forceful impression in Fast & Furious 6, it’s surprising to go back to FatF4 and 5 and discover that she actually doesn’t have all that much to do. Who was responsible for beefing up her role in FatF6? As it turns out, it was Gadot herself.
After filming finished on Fast 5, she lobbied director Justin Lin for a bigger role in the action.
In a press junket interview, Gadot recalled a conversation she’d had with Lin. “He was like ‘Ok, Gal, you’re going to have a LOT of action in this one. Do you want to have a stunt girl, or should we-’ I was like ‘NO. I want to do it by myself.”
Anytime you see Gisele driving a motorcycle or hanging onto the side of a careening jeep, that’s Gadot herself. And what makes it all the more impressive is that she’d just given birth to her first child. Gadot came up as a model and as a soldier, but it was Fast & Furious 6 that basically served as her feature length audition for Wonder Woman.
18 DWAYNE JOHNSON SECRETLY STRUGGLED WITH MENTAL HEALTH
If we’re being honest, at this point it looks a little uncomfortable just to be The Rock. Two things get bigger every time a new Fast comes out, the worldwide box office receipts and Luke Hobb’s forearms. In Furious 7, he gets hospitalized and, upon seeing a car chase on the news, realizes that the movie must be in the third act and simply flexes his way out of his plaster cast so he can join in the action. Dwayne Johnson is such a paragon of sheer physical strength, it was all the more powerful, not to mention all the more valuable, when he opened up about his depression.
Johnson has told a truly harrowing story about how his mother had tried to end her own life by walking into traffic when Johnson was just fifteen years old. Johnson too faced some dark times earlier in his life. He’d had ambitions of being a football player but ultimately had to give up his dreams due to injuries, and went through a break-up not long after that. Those were his darkest days.
In the present, both Johnson and his mother are managing their depression, and are always ready to help others who are struggling to cope themselves. “We both healed but we’ve always got to do our best to pay attention when other people are in pain,” said Johnson in 2018. “We have to help them through it and remind them they are not alone.”
17 THE TRUTH ABOUT DWAYNE JOHNSON AND VIN DIESEL'S FEUD
If you’re a fan of The Fast and the Furious, you’re tired of reading about the feud between Vin Diesel and The Rock. We’re tired of writing about the feud between Vin Diesel and The Rock. And although they didn’t appear onscreen once together in The Fate of the Furious, although they’ve talked about differing work habits, there’s reason to believe things aren’t actually all THAT ugly.
Actress and comedienne June Diane Raphael relayed a story on the How Did This Get Made? podcast about how she wound up working with a cameraman who’d been on on FatF8. When she asked about the relationship between the two stars, June was told they keep their distance, but there’s no conflict. “They’re not in scenes together. But they’re cordial.”
So what’s with all those rumours? Why is Dwayne Johnson stirring things up by making veiled references about working with “candy asses?” We can’t forget about Johnson’s WWE days. He knows firsthand that nothing fires up the fanbase more than a good beef. Indeed, when Johnson spoke about how Universal’s concerns about the feud, he slyly gave the game away.
“The irony is after that and as they do their tracking and all their analysis, the interest shot through the roof to a whole other level.” Folks, The Rock is taking us for a bunch of jabronis.
16 LUDACRIS SAID TYRESE WASN’T BEING TRUTHFUL ABOUT THE ROMAN AND TEJ SPINOFF
Tyrese Gibson fanned the flames of the Diesel/Rock feud in late 2017, and then caught fire himself. In a lengthy Instagram post, Tyrese asserted that the Fast Family had been doing just fine before Dwayne Johnson came along, thank you very much. Among many other things, he took issue with how Johnson was stealing thunder from the main franchise with the proposed spin-off featuring Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw.
“I got 3 years of venting on this clown - They offered but YOU didn't have to agree with a solo #HobbsMovie #OriginalFastFamily we salute you and stand on your shoulders. […] #RomanTej were offered a spin off we TURNED IT DOWN!!!”
The idea that Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris were up for their own film was news to pretty much everyone, including Ludacris himself.
Early in 2018 he gently corrected Tyrese, his friend and frequent scene partner.
"That's my brother, so sometimes when he puts things out there, it's okay for me to just, you know, retract certain statements and give it from my perspective and state the facts."
According to Ludacris, he and Tyrese had indeed floated the idea of a spin-off featuring Roman and Tej, but to date no official offer has been made.
15 PAUL WALKER HAD A SECRET CHARITY
The accident that claimed Paul Walker’s life was a shock to absolutely everyone. It happened in late November 2013, just days ahead of the release the Fast & Furious 6 Blu-Ray. Universal announced that a portion of the sales from that Blu Ray would go to Reach Out Worldwide, Walker’s non-profit organization.
As it turned out, this was the first most of us had heard of Paul Walker running his own charity. He’d previously given an interview in 2011 about how he and a handful of friends had founded Reach Out Worldwide in the wake of the devastating earthquake that had hit Haiti in 2010, but for the most part his charitable efforts stayed under the radar.
When tornados hit Tuscaloosa Alabama in 2011, Walker and Reach Out Worldwide arrived on the scene. But according to JD Dorfman, the charity’s operations manager, he had no desire to draw attention to himself. “He didn’t want anyone to know he was there. All he wanted was a chainsaw, and point him in the right direction – he wanted to go to work. Paul’s fingers were as dirty as yours were.”
In a note of bitter irony, Paul Walker and his driver had been on their way home from a fundraiser when they suffered their fatal accident.
14 MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ WAS BROUGHT UP AS A JEHOVAH’S WITNESS
Michelle Rodriguez has spent her nearly twenty years in Hollywood cultivating a tough-as-nails screen persona. She steadfastly refuses to take any part that defines her simply as the “chick,” instead seeking out scripts that allow her to be a strong, capable participant in the action. Her hard work has paid off in spades, there is no question at all that she fits right into a series that’s drenched in as much macho energy as The Fast and the Furious.
So it may surprise you to learn that Michelle’s upbringing was a lot more pious than you imagined.
“I was a Jehovah's Witness from the age of seven and my family was very strict. I went to church every day, and I'd go knocking on people's doors with my grandma trying to save their souls.”
On the other hand, it may not surprise you to learn that Michelle wasn’t as devout as she appeared to be. At home she wasn’t even allowed to watch film or TV. School was a different story entirely.
“Sometimes the person who answered the door would be a friend from school who knew that I cursed and swore, and there I was in a dress holding a Bible. I'd say, 'Grandma, please. Not this house.’”
13 PAUL WALKER AND MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ WERE MUCH CLOSER IN REAL LIFE THAN THEY WERE ONSCREEN
Michelle Rodriguez and Paul Walker are two staples of the franchise, going all the way back to 2001. Their characters spent the first movie hanging out in Dominic’s inner circle. In the fourth movie, Brian is the one that sends Letty on the fateful undercover assignment that puts her on Shaw’s team. But did you ever realize that in eight movies, the two characters have only spoken with each other twice? Once near the end of FatF6, when the two characters reunite. And once halfway through F7, after Letty manages to save Brian’s life after he jumps off a plummeting bus. “You good?” asks Letty. “Yeah,” says Brian. And that’s it.
Behind the scenes, it was a different story. We don’t know if they were anything more than work buddies, but the two of them did connect on the set.
Rodriguez was left shattered by Paul Walker’s tragic accident in 2013, by her own admission she was plagued by existential questions and even wound up spiralling a little bit.
"I could see Paul once every two years and just know there was another human on the planet who's deep like me, who loves like that," she says. "When that disappears, you wonder, 'Wait a minute, what do I hold on to?'
12 SUNG KANG WILL NEVER COME BACK TO THE SERIES
In a series full of alphas, Sung Kang’s Han was a quieter presence. And in a roundabout way, you can credit him for the rejuvenation of the series.
Justin Lin directed Kang in Tokyo Drift and, after seeing the overwhelmingly positive response audiences had to the Asian American character, was compelled to do more movies and bring back Han to star in them. He didn’t even let a little thing like Han’s demise in Tokyo Drift stop him, he simply made the next three movies into prequels. Under Lin’s direction, The Fast and the Furious became a globally recognized franchise.
Fate (in the form of Jason Statham) caught up with Han by the end of FatF6, and Kang and Lin left the series at the same time. When asked about a possible resurrection, Kang’s response was fairly direct.
“You know, I think it should be the end of Han.”
No hard feelings, no drama, Sung Kang enjoyed his time on the series, but feels Han came to an end at the right time. When he was asked if Han could have an identical twin, Kang jokingly dismissed that idea too.
“I will not be in that movie. They’re going to have to find someone else. You know what they say: We all look alike. They could cast another guy and put on a wig.”
11 JASON STATHAM WAS PART OF THE BRITISH DIVING TEAM IN THE 1990 COMMONWEALTH GAMES
The Fast and the Furious is full of, and we say this lovingly, B-Movie Superstars. It’s a cast full of actors who have both charismatic screen presence and grindhouse sensibilities, which means Jason Statham’s addition to the series was inevitable. He’d been headlining low budget action movies on his own for well over a decade. He had an incredible physicality. His head was pleasingly spherical. He fit into The Fast and the Furious just fine.
In one of his earliest scenes in Furious 7, Statham’s character Deckard Shaw manages to fight Hobbs to a draw. And God help us, we have no trouble believing he can hold his own against The Rock.
Statham comes by that athletic prowess honestly. In the 1990s, long before he got his start in Guy Ritchie action movies, Statham was a diver at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand, representing England in 1990. Even though he finished outside the medal positions, he comes by his action movie credentials more honestly than most. No wonder his screen chemistry with Dwayne Johnson is so strong, the two of them started out as athletes.
Unfortunately, despite all his success, Statham still has a few regrets.
"It's a bit of a sore point. I never got to the Olympics. I started too late. It probably wasn't my thing. I should have done a different sport."
10 CHARLIZE THERON DOESN’T UNDERSTAND WHY VIN DIESEL MADE SUCH A BIG DEAL OUT OF THEIR KISS
Is there any action movie Charlize Theron can’t do? Whether it’s a sci-fi epic like Prometheus, a grimy little thriller like Atomic Blonde, or a lavish chase movie like Mad Max: Fury Road, Theron always acquits herself nicely. It’s no surprise that she manages to steal the show (or at least jointly steal the show alongside Jason Statham) as the main villain of The Fate of the Furious. Her character Cipher puts Dominic under her thumb and manages to keep him there for nearly the entire movie, even forcing a kiss on him at one point. Theron and Vin Diesel appear to have a Rashomon-like perspective of what that experience was like.
“Do I know she enjoyed it? Oh my God, yeah,” claimed Diesel. “A kiss cannot lie; lips don’t lie. No, they didn’t. She owned it.”
Theron, for her part, seemed politely bewildered at Diesel’s take on the scene.
“He’s literally going around saying that I had the best time of my life … It’s insane! It looks like I’m assaulting his face with my mouth.”
Frankly, Theron sounds like she has a better grasp on the movie’s story. The scene is not romantically or sexually charged at all, it’s a metaphor for their entire relationship.
“My hand is forcing his face, which is what the movie’s about.”
9 PAUL WALKER’S DAUGHTER FILED A POSTHUMOUS LAWSUIT AGAINST PORSCHE
The loss of Paul Walker was a shock to the Fast and the Furious fanbase, but he had also left behind a fourteen year old daughter in late 2013. On her behalf, an attorney named Jeff Milam filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Porsche, a battle that would not reach a conclusion until nearly four years after Walker’s accident.
Milam alleged in 2015 that the Porsche Carrera GT Walker had been driving "lacked safety features... that could have prevented the accident or, at a minimum, allowed Paul Walker to survive the crash. The bottom line is that the Porsche Carrera GT is a dangerous car. It doesn't belong on the street. And we shouldn't be without Paul Walker or his friend, Roger Rodas."
The lawsuit came to an end in late 2017, and the details of the settlement are not known to the public. But the year before, Walker’s daughter had been awarded $10.1 million dollars by the estate of Rodas, the man driving the car.
Milan’s statement at that time: ”The amount paid by the estate of Roger Rodas into a trust for Meadow Walker only covers a fraction of what her father would have earned as an international movie star had his life not tragically been cut short."
8 THE ROCK HAS A REALLY INTERESTING NICKNAME
We as a people are always going to be collectively haunted by one incredibly pressing question; “What if the Tom Cruise Mummy remake hadn’t failed at the box office?” If that series had made it to a fifth movie, The Rock might have shown up to make things awesome there too.
We live in a world of uncertainty; at any time, at any point, The Rock might suddenly join any fledgling franchise and give it a huge jolt of life.
This fact hasn’t escaped Dwayne Johnson. For years now his friends have called him, and this truly doesn’t get as much media attention as it deserves, “Franchise Viagra.” Johnson deflects the label, insisting he only uses the name for himself after he’s gotten a few drinks in him.
Johnson has no reason to be humble, as the numbers don’t lie. The fourth Fast & Furious had made a respectable $363 million at the box office, then almost doubled to $626 million when Johnson joined the proceedings in Fast Five. The series has so far peaked at 1.5 billion for Furious 7 and remains the most triumphant example of what The Rock can do for YOUR series. In the meantime, Johnson’s presence has also been a financial boon to G.I. Joe, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Jumanji. Someone prescribe The Rocj to the DCEU but quick!
7 MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ IS CRITICAL OF THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN THE MOVIES
You know what you’re getting with The Fast and the Furious. It’s a testosterone fueled action movie filled to the brim with car crashes and gratuitous slow mo pans across rows of attractive women. However, that doesn’t mean there can’t be substantial roles for women in the series, and one of the strong proponents for that is Michelle Rodriguez herself.
Rodriguez had criticized the diminished role for Letty and other female characters in FatF8, even floating the idea that she might leave the series over it. But history was repeating itself, the very same thing had happened during the first movie, when she realized that the script had a love triangle between Letty, Dom, and Brian.
“I wasn’t paying attention to the script. I thought, ‘I’ll deal with it later,’ because on Girlfight when I had a problem with the script I talked to director Karyn Kusama about it and we worked it out on the day. […] “I basically cried and said, I’m going to quit and, ‘Don’t sue me, please—I’m sorry, but I can’t do this in front of millions of people.”
Vin Diesel was Rodriguez’s ally, together the two of them convinced the filmmakers to remove the love triangle. And the rest is history.
6 THE CAST WAS PROUD OF GAL GADOT FOR HER WONDER WOMAN SUCCESS
As we already discussed, in hindsight it kind of looks like Gal Gadot had been spending her whole life grooming herself to play Wonder Woman. Soldier, 2004’s Miss Israel, businesswoman, action heroine, check check check check. Even that name - Gal Gadot - it sounds more like an alias for Wonder Woman than the actual alias she uses in the movie.
Four years after Gisele had departed the series, Gadot headlined Wonder Woman to massive critical and cultural success. Her former cast mates took to social media to heap praise on her.
Vin Diesel: There are no words I can Say that can convey how proud I am of you… Your record breaking weekend is nothing short of incredible.”
Tyrese Gibson: I’m so freakin proud of my girl and our #FastFamily @gal_gadot you have given so many women permission to be GREAT and to step into their fierce powers.
Dwayne Johnson: Great win for the biz. Fans loving the movie. So happy for my homegirl Gal! Awesome human.
It's great to see such a supportive cast get behind someone who had since moved on from the high performing series. There's a lot of drama talk, but this one is just plain adorable.
5 VIN DIESEL DID HIS “TOKYO DRIFT” CAMEO IN EXCHANGE FOR RIDDICK
Vin Diesel keeps trying to make Riddick happen. And it’s easy to guess why, as Diesel is a loud and proud Dungeons and Dragons nerd and no (non-Marvel) series he’s currently a part of lends itself to that kind of sprawling mythology. It’s the franchise that he always seemed most personally invested in, even turning down second installments of The Fast and the Furious and xXx in favour of Riddick. The result; 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick, a movie you saw the trailer for and thought “Oh maybe I’ll see that on DVD” and then never did.
Two years later, Diesel and Universal Studios struck a deal. Diesel would have a cameo in the third FatF, a series which at the time was on life support. And Diesel would get the rights to Riddick.
The move turned out to be mutually beneficial. The Fast and the Furious was able to survive to a fourth movie, which made a point of reuniting the entire cast of the first film. And Diesel went on to personally finance 2013’s Riddick, a film that managed to make back its budget at the box office.
Given that the latter Fast and the Furious movies have finally turned Vin Diesel into the household name he always believed he could be, a fourth Riddick movie actually might have the potential to be a huge financial success. It’ll be an interesting thing to look out for when it’s inevitably made.
4 TYRESE GIBSON IS A BESTSELLING AUTHOR
There’s a lot of Jack-of-all-Trades in the Fast and the Furious family. We’ve talked about Walker’s charity, Statham’s diving, Gadot’s army training. Heck, we didn’t even touch on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s rumoured Presidential ambitions.
Here’s one that’s surprising if you only know Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce, he’s a best selling author. Seriously! New York Times list and everything!
Tyrese was a singer and a model before he was cast in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, and in the interim before he was brought back for Fast Five, he made a name for himself in the first three Transformers movies. He also spent his time writing two books.
One of them, "Manology: Secrets of Your Man’s Mind Revealed,” is a deep dive into the male psyche. "Manology will help you weed out the cheaters, MANipulators, and pimps from the good men, and it will give you the tools to know if your man is the marrying kind,” claims the dust jacket.
His other book is semi-autobiographical, outlining the process Tyrese went through to “redefine who he was as a human being, and evolve into a new man.” The name of that book? How to Get Out of Your Own Way.
We have a fairly mean joke about his Instagram attack on The Rock but there’s no need to pile on at this point.
3 LUKE EVANS KEPT HIS APPEARANCE IN FATE OF THE FURIOUS A SECRET
Luke Evans’ Owen Shaw is bound to get overshadowed. Owen was a serviceable villain in Fast & Furious 6, but his brother Deckard was always going to make a more forceful impression, especially once the filmmakers signed Jason Statham to the role. And now that Helen Mirren is on board as their mother, forget about it. Considering she joined the series because she wanted to drive a fast car and has not yet been given the chance, Mirren could very well steal the spotlight on her own in the next movie.
Still, the filmmakers think enough of Owen to keep him around. Evans returned as the comatose Owen in the unforgettable sequence that opened Furious 7. Then, in a huge surprise, he made a cameo fighting alongside Deckard in the climax of The Fate of the Furious. And at least part of that surprise was a result of Evans of playing it coy when he was asked if he’d be reprising his role any time soon.
“People come around from comas, so who knows?”
Seeing Owen again was nice just for the sake of continuity, but it’d be great to see Owen retake the spotlight and develop a little bit more as a character. Hopefully there’s plenty of room for him (and Mirren) in the upcoming Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw spin-off.
2 NATHALIE EMMANUEL LOVES HOW DIVERSE THE CAST IS
Lately, a lot has been made of representation in Hollywood. And if there’s a positive, genuinely non-snarky thing you can say about The Fast and the Furious, it's been building a racially diverse, international cast for a very long time. And it builds that cast in a totally organic way, the series travels the globe, the characters encounter people in other countries, and if those characters are popular enough, they hang around for future movies.
Nathalie Emmanuel is a relatively recent addition to the #FastFamily, and a great example of how smart the casting agents are.
They bring in stars not only from an array of different countries, but an array of different genres. Bringing in a prominent character from Game of Thrones lends the series a nice bit of geek cred. But the series has a special place in Emmanuel’s heart for another reason:
“I’d been watching those films for a long time and they were championing diversity in films long before anyone was. Universal was investing a lot of money into a mostly diverse cast before anyone was even thinking about that. We, actors of color, still have our struggles and challenges to overcome now, but we're doing so much more now than ever before.”
1 VIN DIESEL IS A KARAOKE FIEND AND HE DOESN’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT
Vin Diesel is a lot of things. He was Hollywood’s first multicultural megastar (if you’re asking Vin Diesel). He gives some of the strangest, most uncomfortable interviews the world has ever seen. He’s a shoo-in to play Michael Avenatti in a future good-but-not-great Oliver Stone movie that’ll just be called Avenatti. And he loves singing Karaoke by himself.
In one of the most bizarre spectacles the Internet has ever seen, Diesel recorded himself singing along to Rihanna’s “Stay” and put it online. As far as we know, he did this of his own free will. And if you look, he does this a lot. Even though the pitch of Diesel’s famous baritone voice matches the sound of your cat walking around on the leftmost keys of a piano, he does seem to favour singing along with female vocalists.
This rendition of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” reaches particularly surreal levels. It’s just really stark looking, the grainy image of Diesel standing there alone in his own house singing to nobody. You half expect it to turn into a different kind of home video any second. For better or for worse, he sings all the way to the end.
We had to leave this particular cast secret to the very end, because googling “Vin Diesel karaoke” has the potential to suck you into an Internet wormhole. We hope you enjoyed this article, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your soon to be Diesel filled day.
Which of these did you like most? Let us know in the comments!