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2 Fast 2 Furious - Special feature



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 London’s 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," he continued.

Yet having turned a movie about America’s 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 of Shaft.

"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 film?

"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 high-speed passions.

"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 Walker’s latest co-star, Tyrese Gibson, the man given the responsibility of filling Vin Diesel’s 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 deep tine.

"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 in."

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."

 

 

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