Feature by: Jack Foley
AT A time when most Summer blockbuster movie makers seem to have
their eye on a franchise, the team behind 2 Fast 2 Furious maintain
that the sequel was never a foregone conclusion.
In fact, even when the project seemed likely, it almost stalled
on the grid, owing to the high-profile departure of one of its
biggest assets, Vin Diesel.
And hanging out with the cast and crew at Londons Dorchester
Hotel recently, it is quite refreshing to hear that they continue
to feel both incredibly lucky and incredibly privileged to be
sat where they are today - for 2 Fast 2 Furious has already proved
another Box Office smash in America and looks set to do the same
here, when it opens on Friday.
When asked at what point he realised a franchise to The Fast
and the Furious was beckoning, producer, Neal Moritz, told me:
"The opening Friday; it wasn't until then, actually."
"We knew when we had some early test screenings that audiences
loved it, and we knew when we had some early preview screenings
that audiences loved it, but we didn't actually know that people
were going to show up and pay dollars to see the movie,"
Yet having turned a movie about Americas illegal street
racing culture into a global hit - or a cultural phenomenon,
as its star, Paul Walker, puts it - the team almost immediately
ran out of gas, when, first, Diesel pulled out (over alleged pay
demands), and then director, Rob Cohen, opted to invest his time
in the xXx franchise.
Enter John Singleton, the acclaimed director of movies such as
Boyz N The Hood and Higher Learning, who had only previously dabbled
with the idea of taking on the action genre with his updated version
"I was intrigued to find a way to top the first film,"
he revealed. "The first one was so established, it was a
window onto the culture, on to the street racing culture that
is a big phenomenon over in the States, so my thing was how to
get to the next level, to make it look as new as possible, and
try to do it in a style that was different from the first film.
"I thought I was going to shoot it different from the first
film, because I thought it had to look different from the first
film. That's all I did, and I think it's working out for us."
So how realistic a depiction of the street racing scene is the
"What we did in the film is much more stylised than what
happens; usually, it's more of a straight-forward race, but I
wanted to add turns and some obstacles," adds Singleton,
before Walker cuts in:
"Actually, what we did is actually the craze in Japan right
now. Japan's like two steps ahead of us, especially with the opening
race, they're actually doing that right now. They set the standard."
Walker, himself, is a self-confessed adrenaline-junkie, and he
appreciated the opportunity the movie gave him to indulge his
"I got behind the wheel quite a bit, which made it fun,"
he revealed. "I was a bit heated at one point, cos I thought
it was pretty clear that I was going to be driving whenever possible,
and John would have just went ahead and got on with it from the
get-go, but unfortunately, there is thing called insurance, and
they didn't like the idea of me being behind the wheel that much.
"So it took a while before I managed to get behind the wheel.
But we got to drive around quite a bit.
"Whenever I got to work with the stunt-men, I loved that.
That was the best, even when I was doing something that actors
weren't particularly allowed to do.
"For instance, when I was getting in the cars, I would look
over my shoulder and see the other stunt-men raising their eyebrows,
like, 'oh no, they're really going to let this kid do it'."
And what of Walkers latest co-star, Tyrese Gibson, the
man given the responsibility of filling Vin Diesels shoes?
Was he at all daunted by the prospect?
"Being a part of the sequel was actually a no-brainer for
me; I was just, like, 'let's do it'," he said, in a trademark
"When I got the call I was just honoured that they even
had me in mind, because I only did one other movie, so I was,
like, why are you calling old little old bitty me?"
And did he, too, get involved in the stunt work wherever possible?
"Yeah, we pissed a lot of stunt drivers off," he laughs.
"But I wasn't willing to lose a leg for Universal. We just
stretched it to its maximum potential before the other guys came
And what of the prospects of a third film in the series?
I'd love for everyone to be back, if they wanted to be back,"
said Moritz. "Obviously, the person that's taken us through
the first two of the series has been Paul, and we were talking
about it yesterday and decided that if the audience wants to see
it, we'd love to make it.
"But I think this is one of those situations where we had
so much fun making the movie, it would have been a shame if the
movie hadn't come out as well as it did.
"My wife actually said to me yesterday, ' do you really
want to make another one of these?', and I said it's been the
most fun I've ever had making a movie and if I could have that
same experience again, I would go and do it in one second."