The Fast & Furious franchise has evolved from being just another popular early 2000s B-movie series into a critically-praised action property and one of the feathers in Universal Pictures' cap, standing next to Star Wars in the pantheon of 21st century blockbuster franchises that can succeed worldwide with nary a superhero in sight. But all things must come to an end, and the Fast & Furious series is set to conclude its run with a final trilogy of films that promise to send the franchise's main characters off with a bang - while grinding the series out to an even ten installments.
In the meantime, though, that means the Fast & Furious franchise will be continuing to grow its already impressive roster of characters with new blood and big stars, starting with Fast & Furious 8/Fast 8. Case in point: Charlize Theron is now set as a cast member, following previous reports that had the Mad Max: Fury Road star in talks to join the film's cast.
Deadline is now reporting that Theron has closed her deal to costar in Fast 8, which has been packing its eighth outing's cast list with international names and familiar faces in the wake of series mainstay Paul Walker's unfortunate passing during the production of Furious 7. It's not known what role she will play, though previous rumors had pegged her character as a new villain. If so, it's she'll be joining a growing bad guy lineup that already includes her Italian Job co-star Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw, the loose-canon nemesis introduced in the previous installment. F. Gary Gray, who directed both Statham and Theron in The Italian Job, is helming Fast 8.
It's also unclear what new directions the series' storyline can continue to grow, given that Furious 7 resolved two of the longest-standing plot threads - by sending Walker and Jordana Brewster's characters off into the sunset to raise a family and Michelle Rodriguez' Letty getting her missing memories back. However, given that the franchise's increasingly elaborate mythology now places the heroes in regular contact with both Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Agent Hobbs and a more shadowy government operative played by Kurt Russell (a.k.a. "Mr. Nobody"), it shouldn't prove too difficult for the film to conjure some new international menace which can somehow only be solved by driving expensive cars very, very fast.
Theron's casting comes as part of an increasingly busy blockbuster employment schedule for the Oscar-winner, who also has the fairy tale action prequel/sequel (confusing, we know) The Huntsman: Winter's War hitting in a few weeks. She's also been long mentioned as a fan-backed contender for the role of Captain Marvel, a coveted female superhero lead said to be among the most highly sought-after female roles in Hollywood at this time. In addition, Theron also recorded a vocal performance as "Monkey" in the upcoming LAIKA stop-motion animated feature, Kubo and the Two Strings.
Fast & Furious 8 formally began shooting in Cleveland last month, and is also scheduled to shoot for an unspecified amount of time in Iceland - where the film crew aims to stage the largest controlled explosion in the country's history. Star and producer Vin Diesel has long expressed interest in taking the series to New York and it's believed that the scenes being filmed in Cleveland will be set in the Big Apple in the actual film. As for the larger Fast & Furious franchise: spinoffs for Johnson and/or Eva Mendes' character from 2 Fast 2 Furious/Fast Five (a post-credits scene, in the latter's case) have been floated as a possibility in the past.
Fast 8 opens in U.S. theaters on April 17th, 2017, followed by Fast and Furious 9 on April 19th, 2019, and Fast and Furious 10 on April 2nd, 2021.