Michelle Rodriguez is returning for Fast & Furious 9 after getting a female writer added to the production. Rodriguez made her debut as street racer Letty Ortiz in the original Fast and the Furious, and has been a key part of the movie series ever since. As such, fans stood up and took notice when Rodriguez - following the release of 2017's The Fate of the Furious - announced she might not return for the upcoming ninth film unless the franchise's producers "show some love to the women of the franchise" on social media. Shortly after, series lead and producer Vin Diesel publicly voiced his support for Rodriguez and her statement.
There haven't been too many updates since then, but that's mostly because filming on Fast & Furious 9 was subsequently pushed back a year, after the movie was delayed from 2019 to 2020. And while there have been reports claiming that Rodriguez closed a deal for Fast & Furious 9 as far back as late 2018, the star herself has remained mum on the subject. Fortunately, with production on the next mainline Fast & Furious slated to get underway as soon as this month, it's now been confirmed that Letty will ride on the big screen once again.
Bloomberg is reporting that Rodriguez agreed to return for Fast & Furious 9, but only after getting a female writer hired to work on the film. Speaking at the Bloomberg Future of Equality Summit in London, she explained that she felt "there was not enough of a female voice" on the Fast & Furious franchise, and made a real - and, ultimately, successful - push to change that. She went on to emphasize the property's need to "evolve with the times" and not continue to "pander to certain demographics that are stuck [in the past]".
In a time when more and more people are speaking out against sexism and the lack of diversity in Hollywood when it comes to gender, it's good to see Rodriguez leading the charge to improve the Fast & Furious movies in that respect. Diesel, as mentioned, has also been supportive of her efforts and even helped pitch a women-led Fast & Furious spinoff film around the time of her initial comments in 2017. Nevertheless, it was Rodriguez who got the ball rolling here by making it clear she wouldn't return for Fast & Furious 9 at all unless it has more women involved creatively than films past. And as nice as it is to know Letty's coming back for another adventure with Dom and the gang, in some ways it's more exciting to learn a Fast & Furious movie is finally going to have a female co-writer (whoever they end up being).
Between this Fast & Furious 9 news, the women-led spinoff (which is being developed by female writers), and recent reports that Universal is exploring a seemingly separate spinoff for Charlize Theron's Cipher from The Fate of the Furious, the franchise at large appears to be changing its approach to gender, which is encouraging. The series has always had great characters played by women like Jordana Brewster, Gal Gadot, and Nathalie Emmanuel (in addition to Rodriguez), but they've often been pushed to the back-burner or objectified more than their male costars. With more women getting a say in the property's creative direction, that may start to change in the future.
- Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019
- Fast & Furious 9 (2020) release date: May 22, 2020