It’s one of the most popular movie franchises of all time. The Fast and the Furious series is full of big names, big risks and of course, big, fast cars. Though the series boasts amongst its immense cast top stars like Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, The Rock, Helen Mirren, and Gal Gadot, not all Fast and Furious actors have reached those heights.
Unfortunately for many of the cast members, the series served as a one-stop-shop for all of their career needs, stopping their shots toward superstardom as they stood at the height of their acting careers.
The series has featured some of the most diverse and attractive stars, which makes its effect on their careers even more confounding. From Eva Mendes to Ludacris, there’s talent, beauty and crowd favorites, so why aren’t these same actors approached for big-time roles anymore? Actors are humans, too, and sometimes life just gets in the way of a dream– or another dream comes along to take its place. Others just didn’t seem to have the Hollywood “It” factor, or the emotional stability.
Some may have lost chances too soon while others moved on to different industries or priorities in life. Here are 15 The Fast And The Furious Stars Whose Careers Flopped Outside The Series.
15. Liza Lapira – Agent Trinh
She had roles in the films 21 and Crazy Stupid Love both before and after her role as Agent Trinh in Fast & Furious, but Liza Lapira just hasn’t seen as much success following the franchise. As Helen Alice in Rebel Wilson’s short-lived comedy series Super Fun Night, she garnered a few chuckles, and she’s been seen in episodes of some favorite TV shows like Psych and Blue Bloods, but many of the projects she’s been connected two never saw a second season.
As the FBI agent, she proved to be a capable and convincing actress, and she’s also proven her comedic talent, so why isn’t Lapira in the spotlight yet? She’s keeping herself busy with steady work, from Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life to Con Man to last year’s 9JKL series, so perhaps she prefers television spots these days.
14. Matt Schulze – Vince
We can all agree that Vince had his amazingly annoying moments in the Fast and the Furious films, but Matt Schulze didn’t do such a bad job acting that he deserved to be cut off from the industry since 2013.
Ever since Schulze’s son Hendrix entered the world, we haven’t seen him in another movie.When he wasn’t playing Vince, Schulze had enjoyed steady acting gigs in films like Mr. Brooks and a few TV appearances in shows like Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Weeds, but his family time has since superseded his acting career.
Schulze decided that he loved being a father so much that he would pursue some Broadway theater and script-writing roles in lieu of his former screen career. He said that he is the happiest he has ever been with his son.
13. Jordana Brewster – Mia
Mia Toretto is a fan-favorite character in The Fast and the Furious series. The apple of O’Conner’s eye and sister to Dom, Mia was often at the heart of the action, even if her character wasn’t always given that much to do.
Jordana Brewster had success in the world of television with roles on shows like Dallas, As the World Turns, and Chuck, and starred in iconic teen horror The Faculty, but after playing Mia several times it seems as if she’s not as sought after.
As Kate Warner in Secrets and Lies, Brewster was hated even though she was the woman who had been cheated on, which is pretty harsh. She also had a role on the short-lived Lethal Weapon series.
12. Ludacris – Tej
Ludacris is much better known for his rapping skills than his filmography, but he has proven to be a serious and compelling actor in films like Crash and Hustle & Flow. He’s also been on TV shows like Empire, but he hasn’t really performed in anything bigger than The Fast and the Furious series where he was Tej Parker, the “best circuit man on the East Coast.”
While Ludacris is still acting, he hasn’t had any roles as important as Tej lately.
This year he is the voice of Max in the movie Show Dogs and he’s working on Superstition: The Rule of 3’s. In addition to last year’s The Fate of the Furious, he was also in Ride. Prior to that, he hadn’t starred in anything since the TV program Turkey Hollow in 2015.
11. Eva Mendes – Monica Fuentes
Talented and lovely, Eva Mendes seemed to have a stronghold on a Hollywood star position that could only keep climbing. Her versatile look and wide range of acting skills almost seemed wasted in some of her movies, but films like Hitch and Ghost Rider still remain beloved to some fans. Monica Fuentes appeared in both 2 Fast 2 Furious and Fast Five, but the second instance was left uncredited and she’s only been in a handful of productions since, some of those being Drunk History episodes.
After 2014’s Lost River, Mendes hasn’t been seen on screen. In fact, she even “snubbed” the Oscars in 2017 when the self-professed homebody stayed home with her children instead of going with her partner, Ryan Gosling, who was nominated for his role in La La Land. Medes says that she won’t hire a nanny and prefers to be home with her children.
10. Tyrese Gibson – Roman
Roman Pearce has been a steady character in several of The Fast and the Furious films, and the big-talking thief brought all the swagger to the set of the series.
Handsome and charming, if not a bit too mouthy as Roman, Gibson had already been a fan favorite from movies like Baby Boy, Four Brothers, and Transformers but his career seemed to be kicking into high gear as Roman.
That’s why it’s so strange that Gibson hasn’t really broken out of the role into anything larger.
Gibson is signed on for 2020’s Fast & Furious 9, but some of his other big projects amid the series include the TV series Star and the films Legion and Death Race. He has also been directing some features. His acting has been steady, just not as prolific as we might expect.
9. Michelle Rodriguez – Letty
Letty Ortiz is easily the most compelling characters in The Fast and the Furious films. Michelle Rodriguez also happens to be the actress everyone knows deserves bigger and better roles. Throughout her time in the series, she’s had some amazing opportunities, from Resident Evil to Battle in Seattle, Avatar to Lost, yet she’s not starring as a headliner in any huge blockbusters like she should be.
Yes, we’ll get to see Rodriguez in this year’s Widows and Alita: Battle Angel, which both look promising, but this actress needs her own Netflix show or starring role in a superhero film.
8. Sung Kang – Han
Han Seoul-Oh is one of the most beloved characters in the franchise, so when he was killed off in Fast & Furious 6 in 2013 fans went almost as nuts as they did over Glenn Rhee’s death in The Walking Dead. The fact that both actors of Asian descent are in an industry with a terrible paucity of Asian performers may have something to do with that, but Han was also simply one of the most likable characters.
Unfortunately for Kang, the actor hasn’t had any roles as large Han since then. Between series like Hawaii Five-O and Power, and movies like this year’s Code 8 and Rogue Warfare, he definitely hasn’t stopped acting by any means, but to say he is under-utilized would be an understatement.
7. Elsa Pataky – Elena
When Elena, played by Elsa Pataky, was murdered in front of Dom and their child after being held hostage in The Fate of the Furious, it was a means to an end: cutting off Dom’s loose ends, that is. Did the series really have to utilize the overdone “woman in the refrigerator” trope to make Dom go bad? Apparently the writers had no better ideas.
Hers was one of the most wasted roles in the entire franchise.
Pataky was fabulous in a role that many actors would have turned down for the sake of their characters’ integrity but she hasn’t won any accolades for it. She may have caught Chris Hemsworth’s eye, but films like 12 Strong, Ozzy, and The Wine of Summer just haven’t received that much attention.
6. Johnny Strong – Leon
2001 was a successful year for Johnny Strong. Not only did the actor play Leon in The Fast and the Furious, but he also had the role of Shugheart in Black Hawk Down. It seemed as though his career was launching, particularly after his part in the previous year’s Get Carter – but he’s only had five parts since, one of those a short.
Strong went almost a decade between Black Hawk Down and his 2010 film Sinners and Saints, and another six years went by before his next film, 2016’s Daylight’s End.
Strong tells fans that routinely asked him what happened to Leon that it just makes sense for the character to have moved on. He also sings lead vocals for the band Operator outside his acting work. Strong is appearing in two films this year: Cold Brook and Sinners and Saints: Vengeance.
5. Laz Alonso – Fenix Calderon
Fenix Calderon may not have been Laz Alonso’s best look, but it shouldn’t have condemned his career. After all, Alonso is a handsome and funny actor who proved his mettle as a detective in the series Southland as well in the programs Breakout Kings and Deception. His career seemed to be following a pretty clear arrow pointing upward until his unaccredited role as Fenix. After that, we didn’t see him in many big roles, and while he’s had some work almost every year since, it seems as if he should be further in his career by now.
Some enjoyed his performance as the sweet detective Billy Soto in The Mysteries of Laura with Debra Messing, but the show only lasted two seasons. This year we’ll see Alonso in the movies Traffick and Armed.
4. Tego Calderon – Leo
Puerto Rican actor Tego Calderon only has five acting credits to his name and three of those are the character Leo from The Fast and the Furious series. He hasn’t starred in any films outside the series in years.
In fact, he has many more credits as a musical performer, where he has also been featured on projects like Pride and Glory, Crank and the video game Grand Theft Auto. Remember the song “Latin Thugs” from the movie White Chicks? That was Calderon, too.
Considered a street poet by many of his fans, Calderon enjoys blending different sounds together, such as hip hop with Caribbean and Salsa. He is simply more of a musician and Reggae performer than an actor, and it shows on his resume.
3. Don Omar – Santos
Like his partner in crime Leo, Santos has become a staple character in The Fast and the Furious series, but the actor who plays him, Don Omar, has not been. The Puerto Rican actor, nicknamed King of Kings or El Rey, is also more well-known for his music, particularly his vocal talents. His only acting credits outside the franchise are in music video shorts.
Neither Calderon nor Omar have signed on to be in the next film yet.
Also like Tego Calderon, Omar has been featured in Grand Theft Auto video games. He has worked on an episode of Dancing with the Stars (Latin Night) and written music features in some Spanish television, including Como anillo al dedo, Tu cara me suena – Argentina, and last year’s Me lo dices o me lo cantas.
2. Thom Barry – Agent Bilkins
In both The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious, Thom Barry played the commanding yet sympathetic Agent Bilkins who brought O’Conner back into the field for an operation. While Barry has had steady movie gigs since his Furious days, he hasn’t really gone on to anything larger than the Bilkins role. We have seen him in everything from 2016’s Mr. Church to guest spots on TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Blue Bloods, but nothing more prominent.
Prior to his days as Agent Bilkins, Barry was known for roles in Space Jam and Independence Day.
Barry’s latest project, Casting, was a short made last year. His next film, which was just recently announced, will be Phoenix 454, in which he is set to play a character named Frank “Primo” Stallings.
1. Paul Walker – Brian O’Conner
The Fast and the Furious franchise was initially built around handsome young actor Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner, a Los Angeles police officer who becomes involved with the street racing that he’s sworn to stop in the city. Not only that, but he also falls for the sister of a street racer he’s supposed to take down.
Walker had buckets of talent but never seemed to step outside this role. He landed a few spots in movies like Flags of Our Fathers and Hours, but his shining moments largely existed in the series.
Walker was taken from the world too soon in a single-vehicle accident back in 2013. Had he not died so young, he may have re-branded himself at some point and become a star in another realm, but that’s something his fans will simply have to always wonder about.
Who’s your favorite underrated Fast & Furious star? Let us know in the comments!
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