Universal Pictures' Fast & Furious franchise has had little difficulty in pulling in a variety of top-notch acting talent over the past 5-6 years, thanks to the success of its most recent installments, including 2015's box office record-breaking Furious 7. For some, though, it still came as a surprise when Helen Mirren tossed her name in the ring as someone interested in joining the high-octane series in a future installment (shortly before Furious 7 hit theaters); and then got her wish, when she officially joined the cast for the in-production Fast & Furious 8 a.k.a. Fast 8.
Mirren, however, has always enjoyed mixing things up with her film choices. The Oscar-winner previously appeared in the action/comedy RED and its sequel (where she plays a retired, but extremely dangerous, black ops agent) and lent her voice to such films as the animated prequel Monsters University and the live-action The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in addition to her well-known arthouse and high-brow film work. Now, we have photographic proof that she is, in fact, appearing in Fast 8 as announced.
Fast & Furious series lead (and one-man social media marketing army) Vin Diesel posted the following image to his Instagram, showing himself getting cozy with Mirren on the Fast 8 set. Details on the latter's character in the film have yet to be revealed, so this will have to do as a tease of her role in the film for the time being.
Mirren has already confirmed that her Fast 8 character doesn't get to do any high-speed driving herself in the film. Of course, that doesn't preclude the possibility that the Oscar-winner will get behind the wheel on a future Fast & Furious installment. It's now become common practice for Fast & Furious movies to introduce new characters who then return for larger and/or more significant roles in later movies, as happened when Jason Statham popped up in the mid-credits scene for Fast & Furious 6 and when Kurt Russell debuted as "Mr. Nobody" in Furious 7 (both actors are confirmed to be playing roles in Fast 8 too). That's one of many tricks that this franchise has embraced in recent years, allowing it to continue on and thrive like other modern "superhero" movie properties.
The Fast & Furious series has likewise benefited from incorporating different talent (like Mirren) in with its long-standing core cast (Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, and so on). So much also holds true for the crew working behind the scenes on these films, with writer/producer Chris Morgan and producer Neal H. Moritz guiding the franchise through its changes in director. F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) is the one holding the reins on Fast 8, after James Wan helmed Furious 7 and Justin Lin called the shots on the four Fast & Furious movies before them.
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.
Source: Vin Diesel