The Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray has weighed in on star Michelle Rodriguez's recent criticisms of the franchise. The eighth film in the Fast and Furious series has already been subject to a fair bit of controversy care of a major on-set spat between Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel, and now another conflict has been revealed.
At the end of June, Michelle Rodriguez, who has been a part of the series since the very beginning, posted on Instagram stating that she was unhappy with how female characters were handled in the narrative and declared that if this wasn't addressed she may have to leave the series. This was followed up by a video on Vin Diesel's Instagram where he stepped in to back her up and she said he wasn't who she was talking about. Now a third voice has entered the fray.
When Screen Rant recently talked with The Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray, we asked him for his thoughts on Rodriguez's comments, and while he hoped she got her problems addressed, he didn't feel his movie was to blame:
"First of all, I love Michelle. I love her. And I hope she finds some satisfaction moving forward. I personally can only speak for Fate of the Furious. I can only speak for the eighth installment and I personally feel like I think we did a pretty good job. Given how strong Charlize's character is in Fate of the Furious - she was an amazing antagonist, hands down one of the best antagonists in the entire franchise. I had a blast working with Helen Mirren - the Queen came in and gave a cameo, I thought she was amazing. I actually enjoyed what Michelle delivered and also Natalie Emmanuel. I can't speak to her personal feelings about the entire franchise because I'm only responsible for one, so I hope as this franchise grows and progresses she finds some satisfaction in how it all comes together, but I can only really speak to this one movie. And I think that the first female villain by Charlize who was amazing, I don't know if you can include this in that complaint. I'm not really sure, maybe you can, but I don't think so."
It's definitely worth clarifying that Gray is just talking about The Fate of the Furious and not really taking in any of the other films in the franchise, but he does defend his movie pretty ardently. And he does have a point. Citing the various female characters at its core, including villain Cipher who is such a menacing presence she unites the villains of the previous three films, it's clear there is a variety to the handling of female characters, fitting of how the franchise is known for diversity in general.
That said, Letty Toretto does get a short shrift in the film; even though Dom turns on his crew and betrays his new wife completely out of the blue, we don't actually get much time spent on how this affects Rodriguez's character, while Hobbs leads the family in Dom's absence. As such, it's easy to see why she would be frustrated by Fate on a personal level.
With others responding to Rodriguez's statements, it appears like this debate isn't over yet. The actress has left the series before - Letty was killed off in fourth entry Fast and Furious, only to be resurrected in the sixth - but a departure this time would feel more final.
The Fate of the Furious is now available on Digital HD and will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand July 11.