After 14 years, and seven films, The Fast & Furious franchise has become one of the most lucrative movie franchises of the 2000s. With a weird chronology, mixing up of characters and, of course, a fast-paced plot it is difficult for even the most die-hard Fastards (Fast fanatics) to know everything about the films. With Furious 7 being the most successful one yet, check out some fast facts about the high-octane flicks.
In celebration of Michelle Rodriguez’s birthday, here are 20 lesser known facts about the Fast and Furious film franchise. Enjoy!
20. Driving Lessons
Neither Jordana Brewster (Mia Toretto) or Michelle Rodriguez (Letty) knew how to drive before being cast in the first film. Both had to get their licenses in order to be a part of the movie.
19. No Words
The characters Letty (Rodriguez) and Brian (Walker) don’t actually speak directly to each other until Fast & Furious 6. Near the end of the film, Brian approaches Letty to apologize and she says, “I may not remember anything, but I do know one thing. Nobody makes me do anything I don’t want,” the first direct interaction between the two.
18. The Drift King
Real life drifts king Keiichi Tsuchiya appears in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift but not as one of the drivers. He appears as the fisherman who makes fun of Sean learning how to drift, however, it was him driving during most of the scenes where Sean is learning.
17. Painting Houses
The first film’s director Rob Cohen had his crew repaint the houses in Echo Park where the Toretto house was located. By having dull backdrops the cars’ brightness were the main focus.
16. Will The Real Brain O’Connor Please Stand Up?
Eminem, Christian Bale, and Mark Wahlberg were all considered for the role of Brian O’Connor before Walker won out for reminding the director of Steve McQueen in 1968’s Bullitt.
15. Shooting For Free
The South Beach mansion owned by Cole Hauser’s villain Carter Verone in 2 Fast 2 Furious once actually belonged to Sylvester Stallone. The film’s director John Singleton’s friend owned the house at the time, allowing them to shoot there for free.
14. Gear Heads
The opening scene from 2009’s Fast & Furious where the whole crew is reunited and taking down a fuel tanker came from a brainstorm that “gear heads” like Dom would never be able to afford the gas for their vehicles and would have to steal it.
13. Handpicked By Walker
The Skyline GT-R in 2 Fast 2 Furious was Paul Walker’s own car. In fact, as a real-life supporter of car culture and street racing, Walker handpicked all of the cars for the second film.
12. R.I.P. Paul Walker
Following the tragic death of Paul Walker in 2013, the end of Furious 7 was completely changed in order to pay tribute and say goodbye to the actor. “The original ending of ‘Furious 7’ was set up, you know, the bigger world of where the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise could go into. And that’s obviously very smart of them to think so. But when the tragedy happened, all of that became irrelevant…They realized how important it was to make a movie that finishes and that just outright is a tribute to Paul Walker,” director James Wan stated.
11. The Correct Viewing Order
Fans of the franchise are well aware that Tokyo Drift kind of comes out of nowhere and then kills off Han who is alive and well in subsequent films. SO just to clarify the correct order to watch the films is 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, 7.
10. Illegal Street Racing
The origins of the entire franchise are based off one magazine article. Scott Stuber presented producer Neal H. Moritz and director Rob Cohen with a 1998 Vibe magazine article by Ken Li titled “Racer X” about illegal street racing in New York.
9. Neptunes’s Net
The movie was pitched as a “West Side Story” but with cars and also incorporates several themes from the surfing action film Point Break. In fact, Dom and Brian visit a restaurant called Neptune’s Net which is a real-life restaurant and where Lori Petty’s character Tyler works in Point Break.
8. Tokyo Police
Tokyo Drift was Justin Lin’s first foray into the franchise but he had to use tricks to complete filming. It is extremely difficult to film in Tokyo so the lead actor Lucas Black had to wander amongst real pedestrians while a small crew filmed him and tried to get as much footage as possible before cops shut them down, a few crew members were even arrested.
7. Ja Rule Cameo
The woman who comes on to Ja Rule’s character Edwin in the first film before the race wasn’t an actress or even an extra. According to Cohen, she was just a woman “who was in Ja’s trailer.”
6. Car Auditions
Given the prominence of vehicles in the films, Justin Lin had casting calls not only for actors but for cars as well. Production would publicize a meet-up place for people to bring their cars and filmmakers would choose drivers and their cars for scenes as they were needed.
5. Big Bucks
By the time Fast Five rolled around in 2011, the franchise was raking in a lot of dough which meant those behind the movies had to work even harder and spend even more money to make the next films bigger and better. The train sequence in Fast Five cost $25 million all by itself including costs for a 600 yard stretch of train tracks, not to mention the purchase of an entire train just so that they could destroy it.
4. Hobbs & Shaw
The powers of social media are what introduced Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hobbs. Vin Diesel used his Facebook page asking fans for their opinion on what to do with the story and one suggestion was a role for the hulking wrestler turned actor. Some claim that Johnson himself then approached Universal asking to be a part of the franchise as the role was initially written for a “Tommy Lee Jones” type of actor.
3. Letty Returns
Michelle Rodriguez had no idea that her character was coming back until she saw Fast Five for herself where Hobbs is told that Letty who was thought to be dead in Fast & Furious is actually alive. It wasn’t until after Fast Five‘s release that producers called Rodriguez and asked her to reprise her role for Fast & Furious 6.
2. No CGI Needed
The stunt in Fast Five with the truck slamming into the train was done for real, without the use of CGI. The truck was built specifically for the scene and was so heavily reinforced it almost derailed the entire train when they shot the scene.
1. Tokyo Drift Cameo
Vin Diesel made a deal with Universal Studios for his cameo in Tokyo Drift. Universal needed him to do the cameo in order to recharge the series and signal that he would be back for the next film after none of the major stars appeared in Tokyo Drift. Diesel agreed to do the cameo and for free but only if Universal gave him and his production company the rights to the Riddick character whom Diesel portrayed in his breakout role in 2000’s Pitch Black. After 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick, Universal stopped the movement to make a third because of a poor box office showing but Diesel wanted to make the movie. In the end, Diesel made his cameo appearance, was given the rights, made a third Riddick movie in 2013 and remained as one of the main characters for all subsequent Fast films.