Fast & Furious 9 has added UFC fighter Francis Ngannou to the cast. The original Fast and the Furious raced onto movie screens way back in 2001, and though the film tallied a solid domestic box office haul of $144 million ($230 million adjusted for inflation), few would have predicted that that action-packed racing film would ultimately spawn one of the biggest franchises in film history.
But now after a run of nine films, including this year’s spinoff Hobbs & Shaw starring long time series regulars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, Fast & Furious has indeed become a global box office juggernaut with $5.4 billion grossed worldwide. The tenth movie in the universe, Fast & Furious 9, is currently in production with Vin Diesel again heading up the cast (and his dreaded rival Johnson nowhere to be found). Recently, it was confirmed that Fate of the Furious stars Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron are both back on board for the newest sequel, with John Cena also joining the cast to fill the former pro wrestler slot vacated by Johnson.
That already solid cast has now reportedly added another member, and he comes from outside the world of movies. Per Deadline (via CBR), UFC fighter Francis Ngannou has become the newest member of the Fast & Furious 9 family. Details of Ngannou’s role are being kept under wraps for the time being.
Currently the #2 ranked heavyweight in UFC with a record of 14-3, Ngannou has no prior acting experience. His addition to the Fast & Furious fold does continue the series’ tradition of casting stars with a background in UFC, after Gina Carano appeared in Fast & Furious 6 and Ronda Rousey starred in Furious 7. Of course, series regular Johnson and new addition Cena came from the world of pro wrestling, though unlike Ngannou both had extensive acting experience before joining the Fast & Furious universe. The new film also stars returning regulars Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris as well as Nathalie Emmanuel. Justin Lin returns to the director’s chair after previously helming four other franchise entries, the last being 2013’s Fast & Furious 6.
Though it remains to be seen what Ngannou’s role will be in Fast & Furious 9, it’s a fair guess that the physically imposing UFC contender will be given a chance to show off his fighting skills in one of the series’ signature action sequences. Whether Ngannou actually has any acting ability may be beside the point given the series’ emphasis on action, but then again, it’s always possible that Ngannou is a true acting talent just waiting for his chance to shine, and Fast & Furious 9 will be his springboard to a career as a thespian.
- Fast & Furious 9 (2020) release date: May 22, 2020