It's 12 years since the first Fast & Furious movie hit cinemas, and Paul Walker's been a near-constant presence in the franchise (okay, he sat out the third). When we talked to him on set, we found him in reflective mood about how far the franchise has come and how it's changed over the years...
Now it's the sixth instalment, has it become any easier to make a Fast & Furious movie?
This is not the well-oiled machine that people assume it would be at this point. You'd think that after 12 years you'd know how it was going to fall, but no. All it takes is a new personality - a couple of extra additions. It's just a bunch of kids at the end of the day. Aren't we all?
It's been 12 years since the first film came out... how does that feel?
It's a decade of investment at this point. The stakes are higher, given that people are married now and have kids. It doesn't happen very often, that you literally get to grow up with your co-stars. Jordanna was 18 when we made the first one.
What are your favourite Fast & Furious films in the franchise so far?
|We've got to remember what it is we're making: a Fast And The Furious. The second we become pretentious, we've killed it.|
Most people - the die-hard fans - share the consensus that 1 and 5 are the best. 1 and 5 get the love, but 5 takes the cake in terms of pure visual pleasure. There's just so much going on. It was fun too, because it was a departure from what we were limited to before, which was in essence just a car movie. It became a big action movie where we could do whatever we want.
It's funny because there are fans out there that are disappointed in that too. I do some social media stuff and I've had an exchange with more than a handful of people that would like to see the franchise go back to its roots. And be stripped down and simpler. It just goes to show - you can't please everybody. But I'll be honest with you, I actually kind of like hearing that because in a way this thing's just got out of control. The first one was made for $38 million and I don't know how much we're spending now. I don't want to know. There was something really cool about being the underdog. Now we're expected to hit, whereas before no-one expected a damn thing. The stage has been set and we have a bar we have to match now. It definitely creates more pressure.
How bad is the pressure now?
It's impossible to not go to work carrying 5 and 1 and the 12 years with you. This one, the process has been a bit different. We've been spending a lot more time tweaking as we go. We haven't had that in the past. We were originally slated to start this project a while earlier, and it got pushed and then pushed again. And what we were up against was a pre-determined release date.
Is there much room for improvisation?
We don't want to take ourselves too seriously. It's a fine line there. We've got to remember what it is we're making: a Fast And The Furious. The second we become pretentious, we've killed it. People really connect with the whole family dynamic, the loyalty and the bonds. The simple themes. It's not the most complex thing in the world. People identify with it because it's not trying to be anything it's not.
How has your relationship with Vin changed over the years?
Vin and I are very different in our backgrounds, but we've been living this franchise a long time. There's mutual respect. I finally feel like I've got a pretty good handle on him, and vice versa. We're East meets West Coast. When we came together to work on the first one, he was speaking Japanese and I was speaking Russian. But it was work ethic and a genuine desire to do the best that we could, given our somewhat limited skillset at the time. The game's been elevated and it's like, "Hats off, brother. Good to see you on the other side." I feel like we've been successful at life. We've got our families and things are rolling forward.
Where does the story go this time around?
We thought we were in the clear and we had our $10 million each. But circumstances, you know... It took something substantial to get these guys to come out of their hiding places. This time around the stakes are far higher. They're battling it out on a completely different level - this is international now. These guys started off as street racers - pretty crafty criminals. One was in law-enforcement. But we're at the point now where we've known each other so long, we've become almost one collective mind. The force.
And what about The Rock's Luke Hobbs? What's his role now?
He is the one who really opens our eyes to a situation. It's because of his international access that we're basically granted a window into it. He presents this situation and we act upon it. He knows damn well that we're the best of the best, so he has no choice but to ask us to join the party. Hobbs, as you saw in the last one, walks the line. He's trying to find the truth among all the nonsense. Good isn't always good, bad isn't always bad.
We've done most of the exposition, the storytelling. Believe it or not, there is some storytelling to it. (Laughs) Really just setting it up. After this week, we're really just running and gunning. Having some fun. It's nice to do it that way, and know the reason why we're jumping off the rooftops. It allows us to be a little lazier, and have some fun. Some smashing around.