The “Fast and Furious” franchise kicked off in 2001 as little more than a movie about illegal street racing. But with eight movies and even a spinoff later, it’s become one of the most lucrative franchises in Hollywood with some of the most impressive stunts seen on any screen. Ahead of “Hobbs & Shaw,” here’s some fun and fast facts about the franchise.
“The Fast and the Furious” (2001) – The movie was inspired by a magazine article
The idea for “The Fast and the Furious” was originally born after director Rob Cohen read an article called “Racer X” in Vibe Magazine, by Ken Li, in 1998. The article detailed the New York street racing scene. After that, Cohen sought out a race in Los Angeles, and after seeing it, was inspired to do the movie. He convinced Universal and bought the rights to the article from Li.
It was originally titled “Redline” –
For most of the filming, “The Fast and the Furious” had a different name: “Redline.” According to director Rob Cohen on the DVD commentary for the film, the producers landed on the new title before they finished the movie, but couldn’t use it because the rights belonged to director Roger Corman from his 1955 movie of the same name. Universal eventually agreed to give Corman the rights to some Universal stock footage in exchange for the rights to the title.
The Race Wars scene was full of real car enthusiasts –
Cohen visited real street races in Los Angeles, and enlisted the actual racers (and their actual cars) as extras in some scenes. That included more than more than 1,500 actual car enthusiasts in the “Race Wars” scene.
The movie shares a location with “Point Break” –
“The Fast and the Furious” takes some inspiration with the Keanu Reeves-Patrick Swayze movie “Point Break,” in which an FBI agent goes undercover to infiltrate a group of surfer bank robbers. There’s another commonality: In “The Fast and the Furious,” Dom and Brian go to a restaurant called Neptune’s Net, a real place in Malibu. It’s also the restaurant in which Tyler (Lori Petty) works in “Point Break.”
Not everyone in the cast could, uh, drive –
Despite the movie being about insane driving stunts, there were two cast members who didn’t have driver’s licenses: Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Letty, and Jordana Brewster, who plays Mia. Brewster told VH1 she was concerned that she might be dropped from the film for insurance reasons if she didn’t obtain her license, and Rodriguez told ET that she started getting speeding tickets shortly after obtaining her license.
The train-jumping scene was two shots – The scene at the end of the movie, in which Brian and Dom just barely beat a speeding train while racing, was shot twice. The train was nowhere near hitting the cars, despite how death-defying the scene looks — because the portion with the cars was shot separately from the portion with the train, and the two elements were combined in post-production.
“2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003) –
A short film links “The Fast and the Furious” and “2 Fast” –
There’s more to the story of “2 Fast 2 Furious.” A short film included with the movie’s DVD release bridges the end of the first movie, in which undercover cop Brian allows thief Dom to escape capture. Afterward, Brian finds himself on the run, racing across the country to earn money before landing in Miami.
Vin Diesel turned down $25 million for the sequel –
Originally, Vin Diesel and “The Fast and the Furious” director Rob Cohen were asked to return for the sequel, but Diesel left the project. Diesel told Variety in a 2015 magazine profile that he was unhappy with the script and turned down a $25 million pay day on the film. Cohen left soon after, replaced by director John Singleton, and the film ends up focusing on Brian and his boyhood friend Roman Pierce, played by Tyrese Gibson.
Ja Rule was almost a star of the franchise
Rapper Chris “Ludacris” Bridges joined the “Fast & Furious” franchise in the second movie, taking a place in the cast that could have been occupied by rapper Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins. Ja Rule was set to reprise his role as racer Edwin from the first film, and would have had a starring role in the movie after Vin Diesel exited. According to a story from Grantland, he balked at the role when he was offered $500,000 for it. Director John Singleton said talks with Ja Rule broke down, so he called up Ludacris, who was excited for the role. So Edwin was rewritten to be Tej, and Ludacris would become a franchise mainstay.
“The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006) –
“Tokyo Drift” is actually the sixth movie in the film timeline –
Although it wasn’t made that way at the time, the “Fast & Furious” series was later retconned to move “Tokyo Drift” ahead in the film continuity. Han is introduced and also dies in “Tokyo Drift,” but he returns in “Fast 5.” That means the fourth movie, “Fast & Furious,” “Fast 5” and “Fast & Furious 6” actually come before it in the continuity. A post-credits scene in “Fast & Furious 6” recontextualizes a scene in “Tokyo Drift” to set up “Furious 7.”
Han is unofficially from the movie “Better Luck Tomorrow”
“Tokyo Drift” director Justin Lin’s first movie also features actor Sung Kang, who plays Han in the “Fast & Furious” movies. In “Better Luck Tomorrow,” Kang’s character is also called Han, and fans have speculated that though “Better Luck Tomorrow” isn’t part of the canon, the two characters are the same person.
Han’s full name is Han Seoul-Oh –
The extremely cool character Han goes by the pseudonym “Han Seoul-Oh.” It’s a reference to the “Star Wars” smuggler scoundrel Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford.
The cost of Vin Diesel’s cameo: “The Chronicles of Riddick” –
Justin Lin had to convince Vin Diesel to do his cameo at the end of “Tokyo Drift,” which was the beginning of his return to the franchise in Lin’s next movie, “Fast & Furious.” Lin said in a Q&A for the film that he spent hours attempting to convince Diesel to appear. In fact, Diesel only agreed to do the cameo in exchange for the rights to “The Chronicles of Riddick,” Diesel’s sci-fi franchise.
“Fast & Furious” (2009) –
Series mainstays were reunited after eight years
The fourth movie in the franchise (but third chronologically) was nearly a decade removed from “The Fast and the Furious.” After eight years, it was the first time series mainstays Walker, Diesel and Jordana Brewster were reunited on-screen. Michelle Rodriguez also reprises her role in the movie, but doesn’t have screen time with most of the other principles before she’s “killed.”
Vin Diesel directed a short film that sets up “Fast & Furious” –
In “The Fast and the Furious,” Dominic Toretto escapes police and flees to Baja, Mexico. It’s years before his return to the franchise in “Fast & Furious,” and to bridge the gap, Vin Diesel wrote and directed the short film “Los Bandoleros.” The short rekindles Dom’s relationship with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), puts the team in the Dominican Republic for the start of “Fast & Furious,” and introduces Dom’s relationship with Han, Leo (Tego Calderón) and Santos (Don Omar). All three would return to the franchise in “Fast 5.”
“Fast Five” (2011) –
The Rock’s role was originally written for Tommy Lee Jones –
Vin Diesel revealed in a Facebook post that the role of Luke Hobbs, the Diplomatic Security Service manhunter who goes after Dom and the rest of his crew, was originally written for “The Fugitive” actor Tommy Lee Jones. Diesel said it was a fan suggestion that led him and Justin Lin to reach out to The Rock for the part instead.
“Fast 5” was originally planned as the second part of a “trilogy” –
When Diesel returned to the franchise with Lin, they also teamed with screenwriter Chris Morgan. They dealt with “Fast & Furious,” “Fast 5” and “Fast & Furious 6” as if they were an “internal trilogy” within the franchise. Diesel said in an interview with Screen Rant that his view for sequels in the franchise was that there should be a long-term story plan in place, so the three movies have something of an arc.
The bank vault had a car inside –
The climax of the heist includes Dom and Brian stealing a whole bank vault by dragging it through the streets of Rio behind their cars. The filmmakers achieved those shots with real vaults, but not while it was being pulled. That was a mock-up fit around a truck that could be driven to give the illusion the cars were pulling it, as the stunt coordinator explained in an interview with Vanity Fair.
“Fast Five” was meant to go beyond street racing
Unlike the earlier movies in the franchise, which are often about racing, “Fast 5” takes a different tack. Universal’s chairman Adam Fogelson said that by limiting the story to street racing, audiences were staying away from the franchise. “We wanted to see if we could raise it out of about racing and make car driving ability just a part of the movie, like those great chases in ‘The French Connection,’ ‘The Bourne Identity,’ ‘The Italian Job,’” Fogelson told Deadline.
Eva Mendes reprises her role in a post-credits scene –
Actress Eva Mendes played an undercover customs agent working with Brian and Roman in “2 Fast 2 Furious” and has never returned to the series outside an uncredited post-credits scene in “Fast Five” with Hobbs. Her Agent Fuentes teases fans with a major reveal: the fact that Letty wasn’t killed in “Fast & Furious.” (She would actually return in the sixth movie.)
“Fast & Furious 6” (2013) –
It was almost two films –
There was so much story planned for the sixth movie in the franchise that Diesel said in 2011 the movie was planned to be made in two parts, with the original script running beyond 110 pages. Of course, it didn’t actually happen that way: “Fast & Furious 6” was edited down to fit into one film before it was released. The next movie, “Furious 7,” finally takes the story past “Tokyo Drift.”
The runway at the end is obscenely long –
The final action sequence has the whole crew chasing a cargo plane trying to take off, and it goes on for quite a while. There’s so much chasing involved, in fact, that people have done the math to figure out just how much road it would take to get it all done. Vulture.com figured the runway would have be 28.86 miles; by contrast, the longest paved runway in the world is just 3.4 miles.
Even Michelle Rodriguez didn’t know Letty was still alive –
Fans were shocked to find out that Letty survived “Fast & Furious” during the post-credits scene in “Fast Five.” But producer Vin Diesel didn’t tell Rodriguez that her character made it through the fourth movie. She told Yahoo! Movies she learned of Letty’s survival the same way as fans: by watching the post-credits sequence in “Fast 5.”
“Furious 7” (2015) –
The movie retcons “Tokyo Drift” –
To get the “Fast & Furious” timeline straight, “Fast & Furious 6” and “Furious 7” make major changes to Han’s death in “Tokyo Drift.” The movies put the blame on Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), brother of “Fast & Furious 6” villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans).
Paul Walker’s brothers helped complete the film after his death –
When Walker died in 2013, he left part of the film unfinished. Diesel and director James Wan added a lengthy tribute to Walker at the end of the film, and to finish it, Walker’s brothers Caleb and Cody stood in for their brother. The filmmakers used special effects and old footage of Paul to digitally add his face to his brothers’ body for certain shots, particularly in the tribute scene. Meanwhile, Walker’s character Brian is retired in the movie to live his life with Dom’s sister, Mia.
Denzel Washington turned down Kurt Russell’s role –
Denzel Washington was offered, and turned down, a “mysterious” major role for “Furious 7” during the course of filming, according to Deadline. The role wasn’t detailed at the time to avoid spoilers, but with “Furious 7” out, we know who took his place: Kurt Russell, in the role of Mr. Nobody. Russell is a government covert ops team leader who teams with Dom and the crew as they deal with Deckard Shaw.
The filmmakers really dropped cars out of a plane –
One of the biggest set pieces in the movie involves the crew driving out of a cargo plane in midair, then parachuting to a remote mountain road in order to hijack a convoy. Ridiculous as it might sound, the filmmakers did, in fact, drop a bunch of cars out of a plane to film the scene. Skydivers had to follow the cars out to get the shot. One car was destroyed in the attempt because its parachute didn’t open.
Ludacris had to convince the filmmakers to let him fight –
Tej is the tech-minded member of the crew, but Ludacris had asked repeatedly for a chance to do a fight scene. He got the opportunity because he started training in the 52 Blocks style of martial arts, then made a demo reel to show to Diesel and director James Wan.
“The Fate of the Furious” (2017) –
A deleted scene between Hobbs and Shaw inspired the spinoff
TheWrap reported that Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham filmed a scene as their rival characters Hobbs and Shaw in which the two agree to stop fighting and then team up against Dom. The scene was meant as a tag at the end of the movie, but it was cut. And yet the chemistry between Johnson and Statham was so strong that it eventually spawned 2019’s spinoff film “Hobbs & Shaw.”
No, a submarine wouldn’t win a race against cars –
TheWrap asked the Mythbusters whether or not the submarine-car chase in the eighth “Fast & Furious” movie was even plausible, but it turns out submarines are pretty slow, barely getting above 50 miles per hour while traversing through water and carrying so much nuclear firepower. Dom’s high power supercars would, figuratively speaking, blow it out of the water.
Charlize Theron said Vin Diesel kisses like “a dead fish” –
When Charlize Theron joined the cast of the “F&F” franchise as cyber-terrorist Cypher, she blackmails Dom and at one point in the film kisses him to show how far he’s turned. He however is supposed to be reluctant, so Theron described to “Ellen” that when the two kissed, he just sat there “frozen, like a dead fish.” Diesel eventually made his own appearance on “Ellen” and clapped back at the comparison.
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (2019) –
Idris Elba was teased by the cast about starring in “Cats”
Immediately after filming the brawny, masculine “Hobbs & Shaw,” Idris Elba was next set to star in “Cats,” the live-action adaptation of the long-running Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The Rock and Jason Statham would use their inside casting scoops as a way of taking Elba down a peg whenever he was acting tough. Elba told Stephen Colbert that his co-stars would ask him what he’s doing next while in front of the whole crew.
The “Black Superman” line was originally supposed to be “Black James Bond” –
One of Idris Elba’s lines in the film as a genetically enhanced super soldier in “Hobbs & Shaw” is that he’s “Black Superman.” The Rock took credit for coming up with the line, which he says wasn’t in the original script. But he originally had the idea to call Elba the “black James Bond.” The only problem was that the line cut a little too close to home, with many fans leading the charge that Elba should’ve been the next 007 to replace Daniel Craig.