Yesterday, we continued to take you behind-the-scenes of our recent visit to the set of Fast Five in Atlanta, Georgia, which opens in theaters on April 29th. The film is the fifth installment of the popular street-racing series, The Fast and the Furious. The new movie will feature Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster reprising their roles, but it will also include the return of actors from throughout the series such as Sung Kang from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris from 2 Fast 2 Furious, Matt Schulze from The Fast and the Furious, and Gal Gadot from Fast & Furious.
The new movie will pick up just a few months after the ending of the last film, which featured Brian (Walker) and Mia (Brewster) breaking Dom (Diesel) out of police custody. The trio, are now hiding in Rio and resurface when an opportunity arises to clear their names. But in order to pull of the job, they will need to put together an all-star team of drivers, which include many familiar faces from the previous films. But things take a turn for the worst when they realize that a crooked businessman wants them dead. Unfortunately, he isn't the only one after our crew. Federal agent Luke Hobbs, played by Dwayne Johnson (Faster), is assigned to bring Brian and Dom to justice ... no matter what it takes. But as Hobbs gets closer to his goal, and ultimately bumping heads with Dom and Brian, he realizes that not everything is as it seems and no one can be trusted.
After speaking with the film's actresses, Gal Gadot, and Jordana Brewster, and returning actor Matt Schulze, we had an opportunity to speak with another actor who is returning to the franchise after a long absence. When Vin Diesel decided not to return for 2 Fast 2 Furious, new director John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood) needed to find a new co-star for Paul Walker. The director had to look no further than his Baby Boy star, Tyrese Gibson. Gibson, who has since gone on to star in the Transformers films, played Roman Pearce, a childhood friend of Brian's. After an absence in the last two films, the actor returns to the franchise in Fast Five. The film reunites Gibson with his Annapolis director Justin Lin and co-star Jordana Brewster.
We began by asking Gibson how it feels to finally be returning to the franchise? "I'm happier than you could ever imagine and I genuinely mean it. I feel like this is my baby, you know? It's the second movie I ever did in my career. It was the first movie that took me into international living rooms. Honestly there are only a few things I've done in my career, where everywhere I go someone is going to make reference to something I did. I always hear about the Coke commercial I did when I was sixteen, and I hear about 2 Fast 2 Furious. People that don't know English walk up and ask me about 2 Fast 2 Furious. I'm glad the movie was in different languages so that everyone was able to enjoy it around the world. I'm just honored to be back and a part of it. I love it."
We then asked the actor to talk about how Roman has changed since 2 Fast 2 Furious. "Roman grew up. Roman grew up but he is still funny. I'm trying to figure out every way possible to just make sure that while you're watching him, you have a good time," answered Gibson. We followed up by asking Gibson to describe Roman's role in the new film. "I don't really know how much of the movie I can talk about, but basically we all meet up in a certain location and we're on this mission to do some things. All of us are from all the different sequels, all come together to conquer this situation," said Gibson. With all the characters from the previous movies coming together, we asked Gibson how well Roman gets along with the others. "I don't like it. I have a problem with authority, and that's always the way it's been. Dom tends to believe that he always has the final say with anything we're supposed to do and how we're supposed to go about doing it. That shit don't make sense to me, so of all of the people in the group, I'm the one who will normally speak out."
Gibson also discussed how he has changed as an actor since making 2 Fast 2 Furious. "Well, I'm much more professional than I was on 2 Fast. I grew up, and I hope you print this, but what I've learned about Hollywood is exactly that ... it's Hollywood. Nothing is ever what it seems, and nothing is ever what it appears to be," warned Gibson. "So you could literally be on a movie set pissing everybody off, rubbing everybody the wrong way, saying all of the wrong shit, whatever the case may be, and no one will ever tell you that you're doing it. At some point, somebody is going to decide if they love or care for you enough to walk up to you and tell you the truth about your actions, and then you have an opportunity to learn from it and grow up from it. So it's not that I killed myself or completely sabotaged any situation, but in certain instances I may have pissed or rubbed people the wrong way in the beginning, and I just didn't know it. We all fall victim to that in Hollywood," the actor said. "Like a Christian Bale situation; it's like how many of these moments happen on a movie set that no one ever knew about before someone decided to record it," Gibson continued. "I may have my people in place to scream, but I'm not going to do it myself."
Since Gibson had previously worked with director Justin Lin before, we asked the actor if he was excited to be collaborating with him again? "Well Justin Lin and myself did Annapolis together with James Franco, so that was our bond and initial relationship situation. Both Justin and Paul Walker were literally fighting the producers and the studio to get me back in this franchise. I thank them so much for it. You know, it's always good to know that somebody like Paul Walker, who I love to death by the way, is on the inside fighting for me to come back. Unfortunately he doesn't have the final say, but he was in there fighting for me, and that meant everything to me. I mean, look, you're not going to get everything you fight for, but I'm just happy to be back. His fight had a great outcome, and I'm very happy to be back."
"Justin Lin shoots the way Justin Lin shoots, and I think he's doing a great job with this franchise," the actor continued. "The crazy thing is that when we were doing Annapolis, he went and met about The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. He was saying, I don't know if I want to do it. I said to him in his face, you would be out of your fucking mind to not take The Fast and the Furious franchise, especially coming off of Annapolis. We did cool, but it wasn't the biggest movie in the world. So for him to go from Annapolis to The Fast and the Furious, it's like the greatest stage you could ever display your capabilities as a director, regardless of what you end up doing. Hopefully it's a good take on The Fast and the Furious, but at least there's a built-in audience and you are going to have your name plastered across it around the world. So he heard me out, and here we are."
Gibson is also reuniting with his Annapolis co-star Jordana Brewster on this film, so we asked him what it has been like working with the actress for a second time? "Annapolis was the worst filming experience of my career because of James Franco," Gibson said seriously. "It was just bad. It was not good. He's a method actor and he's a little off the deep end ... I'm not. So when the director hollers cut, I cut, but he doesn't cut, so it was a bad experience. But I still kept a few friends in the meantime, and I think Jordana is experiencing a different Tyrese on this one, rather than what happened on Annapolis," he explained. "We all grow up; I mean, I hope that you're not able to say that you're the same as you were last year or even two years ago. You live and you learn. I've got a saying: iron sharpens iron. You can often tell how far your life and career will go, based on the five people that you spend the most time with. So my circle of five back then is completely different than what it is now. I'm wiser and I'm more aware. I'm more considerate of whatever the situation may be, and it's just a different level of playing field. I've never been happier in my life and I love the opportunities that have come my way."
Finally, we asked Gibson if he shares any scenes in the film with new cast member, Dwayne Johnson? "I'm in some scenes that he's in, yes. But you know, he's mainly after Dom in this movie. We're kind of a part of a clique but he specifically has an issue with Dom," Gibson said. "I'm actually kind of happy about that, because I would shoot him. I'm not fighting Dwayne Johnson! Roman would be like, hey come here, and then ...pop! That's it ... it's all over."
Grammy Award winner, Ludacris, began his career as a rapper and has successfully made the leap to the silver screen with roles in films like Crash, Hustle & Flow and Max Payne. But one of his first film roles was as Tej Parker in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and now the actor returns to the franchise in Fast Five. We had a chance to speak with Ludacris, and he began by discussing how he has grown as an actor since 2 Fast 2 Furious. "In terms of all the movies I've done, I've just gained a lot more experience. I'm really starting to have fun with it. That was kind of my objective. To pick small roles so I could kind of get familiar with the craft and try to continue to get better. I'm a perfectionist. I would say it's been a big journey. I've had a lot of fun with it. I'm just glad to be a part of such a great movie and continuing on that process of learning as much as I can."
Ludacris explained that in the film, Brian brings his character in to help with the job that the group is working on, because he knows him from when they were in Miami. But they haven't seen each other since the events of that film. We followed up by asking the actor what role Tej plays on the team? "Okay in 2 Fast 2 Furious my character was basically all about his money. He was always betting, trying to make five dollars out of one, and he's basically doing the same thing here. So I'm just playing my part. I'm kind of like the technical guy," he said. "Of course my main focus is the end result and that everybody is getting their money. I know what I'm going to do with my part and that's basically what I do. I'm here to play my part in the team."
We also asked Ludacris what it is like to work with the actors from the other films in the series? "Yeah it's really good because Paul was in all of them but the third one, and Vin wasn't in number two, and he only had a cameo in number three. Then you have my man Sung. He was in Tokyo Drift. So it's basically taking bits and pieces of each one and putting them all together. Everybody is working together and it's interesting to see the characters that never met each other, working together. Like I said it just comes together really well. It doesn't skip a beat. If you are a fan of each of the installments then you will completely understand and won't question what the hell is going on here."
When we last saw Tej Parker he walked with a limp, so we asked the actor if his leg has healed by now? "He had a limp because he had been in a major accident. Supposedly that was the thing. Like four years later I'm walking better, I'm cool," Ludacris said. "They asked me to do that small limp but this literally is real time. That came out in 2003, so six years later my leg has healed up." We asked the actor if all the characters from the various films get along or if there is some friction? "I'm good. My character is good. It's Tyrese's character that's on the rocks with everybody but he's still cool. They may not be as friendly with one another but they all understand that we are here for a common goal. We are going to work together. It's that type of thing. You may not like the person but you're going to make it happen. That's the kind of feel you get."
Finally, we asked Ludacris to discuss the differences between working with director John Singleton on 2 Fast 2 Furious, and working with Justin Lin on this film? "They are both great directors, I just think they both have different styles. It's so good because they both pay attention to detail. Only, I think it's just a different style of shooting. Kind of like how they do different takes. How they both notice different things. That's just basically how directors are but I think they are both great directors. This is my first time working with Justin. He pays very close attention to detail and he's always a hundred percent on it. You know when directors are doing their job they're pretty much doing everyone else's job too. So basically he covers, he knows exactly what's going on in the script, like every detail. While he's shooting, if you try to ask a question about the character, he's dead on. He still knows. He just pays attention to detail. He's very good at that."
Actor Sung Kang first played the role of Han Lue in director Justin Lin's groundbreaking film, Better Luck Tomorrow. When Lin was hired to direct The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Kang reprised his role as Han, only to find him killed before the film's end. Despite his character's demise, he again returned to play Han in Fast & Furious, which takes place before the events of Tokyo Drift. The actor returns to the franchise once again as Han in Fast Five, which is also a prequel to Tokyo Drift and helps bridge the five films together.
When we had a chance to sit down and speak with Sung Kang, we began by asking the actor about his character's timeline and if it is odd playing a character with a finite end point? "I guess that phrase, living in the moment, really comes to mind," he joked. "I guess you could take that into account with Han in this one. No, I'm taking each film for what it is." We followed up by asking if the actor was surprised when he got the call to return for another installment of the franchise? "I was because I thought I was dead, and I didn't want to play the evil twin brother or a ghost. But it's a testament to how popular the Han character is. It's just great to be a part of that and a part of this franchise." When we last see Han in Fast & Furious, he tells Dom that he is going to Japan, so we asked the actor if that is where we find his character at the beginning of this film? "I think he was en route," said Kang. "Originally this script had Han in Hong Kong and being chased by the police. I guess before he ended up in Tokyo he was in Hong Kong. But then they took that out because of budget restraints."
"When Dom is called back for this final job he says that he knows some characters that could kind of help," continued Kang. "We see Tyrese's character in Vegas, he's a DJ somewhere. Gal's character is somewhere in Europe and they see me in Hong Kong. But now that they cut that out, we just kind of show up, but there are references in the script about me being on the way to Tokyo. At the end, Gisele is like, are we going to Tokyo? Han's like, we'll get there one day, eventually." We asked Kang what it has been like to work with actors from throughout the series of films? "It's kind of like a family reunion with cousins that you've never met before. They're legends within the stories. But getting to actually work with them is great because Paul and Vin are such great contributors on-set."
"Just getting to know each other is nice because this whole ensemble thing is really tough in films," Kang continued. "You have two days to kind of unify. With Paul and Vin, they've known each other and they've worked with each other. So it's been really easy to just kind of pop in. It's been really open arms with all the cast members who joined the franchise later on. I mean movies are kind of difficult because, especially with a studio film, you don't have the benefit of rehearsal time. In theater and smaller films, it's a necessity but with these you're expected to dive in," he explained. "But having all these generous people makes it that much easier. In these films you kind of think that if you're not having fun, what's the point? That energy carries onto the screen. Fans are going to be happy because there is this unwritten chemistry now. Tyrese and I have this banter. At first, I wasn't really sure if we were going to have that off set as well, but because we have it, it's much more organic. It's fun. There's humor that you can try to write, but comedy is so hard. I feel really lucky about that."
We continued by asking Kang about the director's ability to bring all of the different cast members together from the various films for this one movie? "Well, I know that everyone has a unanimous opinion about Justin. He's just a great leader. I think that, because of his earlier independent filmmaking experience he's really able to appreciate everyone for what they contribute. I think that he knows every aspect of this and knows how lucky we are to be here. I think that leads into how the cast is treated by him. They do see that he appreciates every single day while we're here. Because he sets the tone, it's just easier," Kang said. "He's very sincere about the words that he chooses. It just gives us a safety. I think that when actors feel protected and know that the director would take the first bullet for us, we're just able to contribute our best. I think that's why all the actors enjoy working with him. He is like the ultimate older brother, you know? He's so in-tune with us. He's so wired in. He knows when we're having difficulties or having trouble with lines, or when we're having trouble knowing what's going on and he'll set the tone for the day. He allows for a really fun atmosphere and a really easier atmosphere. That's why the studios give him this responsibility and these massive budgets. He looks young, but he's this old soul. I feel really lucky that I've been able to go on this journey with him."
Finally, we asked the actor to talk about exactly how much CGI is used in the movie, as apposed to practical effects? "The great thing about these Fast & Furious movies and working with Justin is, that he tries to do as little CGI as possible because the car culture will know. Like in Tokyo Drift a lot of people thought that the majority of that was CGI. The people that really know how to drive these cars recognize that. The little things really count. He's really able to manipulate the budget so that we can do it all on the day rather than all in post. It's a testament that he's trying to respect the culture. The fans will see that we're actually really racing or driving the cars," Kang finished.
Be sure to check back with us tomorrow for the fifth and final installment of our five-part visit to the set of Fast Five. We had a chance to speak with the franchise's star Vin Diesel, as well as take a sneak peak at the filming of a scene that pits Diesel's character against Dwayne Johnson's federal agent.