Paul Walker invites us inside his rally car for a look at this upcoming fourth installment of the popular series
After taking a hiatus from the third film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Paul Walker is returning as Brian O'Conner in the fourth installment of the wildly popular car racing franchise that made him famous. This new adventure is simply titled Fast & Furious, and it will reunite Walker with his onscreen buddy Vin Diesel for the first time since that original 2001 film soared across the urban landscape, become a legend in and of itself. Fresh from his stint in prison, Agent O'Conner must reunite with his one time partner, former BFF Dominic Toretto, to infiltrate a heroin importer's crew and bring the entire drug smuggling operation to its knees. Directed by Tokyo Drift's Justin Lin, this new installment promises to be one of the most thrilling film's of the spring break season. We recently caught up with Paul Walker on the Los Angeles based set of Fast & Furious to find out what we can expect from his exciting return to the franchise. Here is that conversation:
Bold|How exciting is it to get the entire team back together?
Paul Walker: It's good. It's fun. It's good seeing Jordana Brewster again. I liked working with her the first time. She's married now. It's crazy because we were all little kids. I don't even know how old she was then. She's married. Vin's the same. I love Michelle. We always have fun together.
Do you think the entire team will reunite for every fourth installment of this franchise?
Paul Walker: I hope it's done. I want to go out this time. I thought we were done. But the 2nd and the 3rd one came around. This time it was Vin calling up and saying, "Hey let's make one more". I think Vin wants to make a 5th. But I think I'll only be back for this one last time.
Are you hoping for a death scene in this one?
Paul Walker: I did tell Justin that I wanted to die. He says it's not going to happen.
Were you obligated to come back? Or is this something you are doing for fun?
Paul Walker: I came back because its fun. I like hanging out, getting paid, doing it again. The truth of the matter is, I opted to take some time off. I spent too much time out of the studio game. You need to sustain those hits in order to maintain, and be able to go and do those smaller movies. I do have some marquee value. I do have some overseas value. But you sit off it too long, and it's not there. Running Scared made a ton on rental and DVD sales. But it didn't do anything at the box office for me. I loved that movie.
It's fucking awesome.
Paul Walker: That's probably the one I'm most proud. But unless you have Fast & Furious behind you, there's no way you're going to get the opportunity to do it again. Wayne Kramer and I are going to do another one together this fall, then we're going to do another one first quarter of next year. We're going to go back-to-back. I'm excited to go back to work with him.
Is there a certain ease in doing a "Fast and the Furious" studio type film?
Paul Walker: It's funny. All of the opinions sometimes drive you crazy. When you're in the middle of it, and everyone's got two cents to throw in, you've got to make everyone happy. From the studio executives to the producers, to the actors. The whole bit.
Is it nice to be in a film that you know everyone is going to see?
Paul Walker: I don't know that. The studio seems to think so, right? Neil seems to think so, otherwise we wouldn't be making this right now. The 3rd one made more internationally than the 1st or the 2nd one did. Do we ever really know an audience is still there? Maybe when this thing comes out, people are going, "Fast and Furious 4, are you kidding me?" No one knows. I'm sure they're doing their focus groups, and they've got their street teams and they're out knocking on doors and asking people, "Hey, do you want to see this? Do you want to see that?" But there's never a guarantee.
What is your favorite vehicle that you get to drive in this one?
Paul Walker: I don't know. I love the R-34. The Nissan Skyline that I drove in the beginning of the 2nd one. Brian crashes it in the first race. Remember that the cops shot that thing at him, and it wipes his car out? That's in the first two acts of this. Then it's the new Subaru SCI. It's the product placement, and the whole push. They talked with Nissan North America about using their car, but it's just a different clientele. That's an $80,000 car. Maybe it's too youthful for us. It's all marketing on their end. The other concern was that when they talked with Nissan North America about using it in this movie, it hadn't been unveiled in North America yet. They were afraid that if too much was released, it would have leaked. But it was already all over Japan, so I don't understand that way of thinking. If you want to see it, you go into the forums, right? You guys know that stuff. It was already for sale in Japan, it shouldn't have mattered. But they have their reasons.
How much time has passed since we last saw Brian?
Paul Walker: It's been real time. It's been about four years. As opposed to being a cop, he's now a federal agent. He's just doing what he knows best. Putting one foot in front of the other. He doesn't have any real direction. He just thinks he's good at being a cop. He has that moral fiber. He really wants to bust bad guys, you know? That's what makes him feel good about himself. He's going in the direction that he's always been headed in.
How has it been working with Vin? Do you guys hang out a lot off set?
Paul Walker: Not a whole lot. He does his thing and I do my thing. We show up. We get along. It's easy with us. His position is different this time. He's got a producing credit and he's got more juice than he did on the first one. He's also a director, so he's got a lot of opinions. That's another opinion in the pile. He comes up with good ideas. Sometimes I'm just like, "I don't want to hear it." I'm tuning him out. Then I'm actually thinking, "That's a great idea." But that's all it is. Its just opinions. He has some sharp suggestions, though. He just came up with one tonight that's really good.
What was his big idea?
Paul Walker: It was just the way the cars were lining up. It was just so simple. Once he said it, it was like, "Oh yeah, of course that was so obvious!" There's a chain-reaction of events that happens. And he's like, "You know? It actually makes more sense if this is over here." And Justin Lin thought about it. He's like, "Yeah, you're right."
How quickly did this project come together for you guys?
Paul Walker: This came together during the strike. Vin was going to do it. It was just going to be the Dominic Toretto story. Then he wanted me to be in it as well. They took what they had, and I guess they re-wrote it. It was the right timing for the studio. They wanted to make it right now. Nothing else is really going on, and the writers are on strike. They already had the screenplay. So they made the adjustments they needed, and we just kind of rocked into it. We've been fixing it as we've been going?
Did Vin approach you personally about being in this?
Paul Walker: Yeah.
How will this film be different from the other three that have come before it?
Paul Walker: I look at this one as the first true sequel. It was Vin and I in the first one. Now we're back together again, finally. When I tell the fans that Vin and I are back making another one, people get pretty excited about it. The ones that care anyway.
Is Tyrese mentioned in the film at all?
Paul Walker: We've been talking about it. Justin wonders, "Is it shameless? Should we be bringing Tyrese in?" Justin and I are both on the same page. I think he should. Why not? We're making a 4th one for crying out loud, you know what I mean? Let's bring in Tyrese, too! We've got Letty. We've got Mia. We've got Brian, we've got Dom, and Michelle. Let's bring in Roman Pierce. Might as well. It wouldn't hurt.
Will you guys be winking at the audience?
Paul Walker: No. I'm playing it pretty straight. As straight as I can. I don't know, I can't say too much. I'll get in trouble. We're making a good day out of it. I really like Justin a lot. He's got the right attitude for it. It doesn't take itself too seriously. I guess in that case, it is winking at its audience a little bit.
Are they letting you do a lot of your own driving this time around?
Paul Walker: Not really, because of insurance reasons. And the second unit is bigger than ever. We're limited by our days. On the first one, they let me do a lot of driving. I'm sure the insurance policy wasn't that much then either. It's a disappointment. But I knew that going into this. With the second one, I didn't get to do half the stuff I did on the first. On the first one, I got to drive through intersections. I actually got to spin the car sideways a couple of times. On the second one, all I got to do was one static shot where I came racing up to the camera. I just put it into a slide and aimed it right at the steady cam operator. That was the only real shot I got to play in.
Will you be firing guns and throwing punches, at the very least?
Paul Walker: Yes. Vin and I get into it at one point. But Brian accepts the beating because he does something wrong. And Dom's all pissed off. Yeah, that's pretty much it.
Do a lot of people try to engage you in car conversations away from the set?
Paul Walker: Yeah. All the time. Its because I'm a car freak, right? I'm on the boards and everything. I'm always checking stuff out. I have a tuning shop in Orange County called Autobahn Exotics. We make exhaust systems. We're the only distributor for Nova Tech body kits, which is the best Ferrari body kit. Guys that are really in the car world know that I'm into cars. They come by the shop and they see my collection.
What do you like driving the most?
Paul Walker: I love Porsche's. I like everything. I like Euros, Japanese. I've got a pretty good balance of everything. But my track car right now is a GT-3. A 996-GT3, the older generation. I had one then sold it, and then I got the 997-GT3. I like the 996 more so, I went back and got another one. I saved a few bucks, so that was good.
Are a lot of car companies willing to hook you up with free swag?
Paul Walker: No. People are always asking me, "Why don't you push that angle?" I'm just too lazy. And nothing's free anyways. You know how that is, right? It's like okay, "We'll give you seats now and racing harnesses, but come do a photo shoot for us later." I'd rather just pay for it. I get everything wholesale anyways.
Do you bring your car expertise to the film?
Paul Walker: Yes. I'm the headache. I think Dennis, the picture car coordinator, likes it. We get along pretty well. Justin calls me, asking me on just about everything. I've got a couple of my cars in the movie, and I called BS on a couple of things. I made them change it on the fly. But just because that's the realm I'm in. I deal with it. Things that aren't accurate, I've got guys going, "That was so bad". I've got more pressure now than before.
Did you have a preference as to what kind of cars you wanted to see in the film?
Paul Walker: No. I told them from the get-go that we've got domestics and we've got American cars, but we need Euros. We've missed it almost every time. Now we've got Porsches. I wanted a B-5 S4 Audi. We got that in there. We got an E36 MC supercharged. We got a pretty good spread of Euros. We have the Caamen S with the full tech art body kit. It's actually Tech Art's car. That's featured. We've got a lot of European cars in this one. We needed that.
Fast & Furious will race into theaters on April 3rd, 2009.