When The Fast and The Furious first premiered in 2001 seemed at first to be nothing more than a summer popcorn movie for teenagers about fast cars starring in an entirely unoriginal plot with virtually unknown actors to boot. Sixteen years later, The Fast and the Furious is now a multi-billion dollar movie franchise that has changed the lives of everyone who’s ever worked on the campaign. With at least two more films announced in the series, we’d thought it’s time to take a look at a series of films that lover or hate, are a part of our cultural lexicon.
The story for the first film was inspired by a magazine article about street racing in Queens, New York. In May 1998 issue of Vibe magazine, Ken Li wrote “Racer X” about the seedy world of street races. The producers optioned the article for a film adaptation and thus The Fast and the Furious was born.
Director Rob Cohen found inspiration for the original car chase scenes in the Steve McQueen car-chase flick Bullitt. Paul Walker was cast because Cohen thought he looked like McQueen. The other choices for Walker’s character Brian O’Conner included Eminem, Christian Bale, and Mark Wahlberg.
Real street racers were used for the most of the race scenes, especially in Tokyo Drift where absolutely none of the racing was CGI.
Vin Diesel turned down $25 Million for the sequel. To his credit, it’s easily the worst in the series. Vin ended up coming back to the franchise in Tokyo Drift, but under one condition: that the studio give him the rights to the Chronicles of the Riddick franchise.
Tokyo Drift is the third movie in the series, but it is the sixth movie in the chronology. The movies are actually non-linear making it real confusing to watch if you marathon all of them in order of their release dates. 2009’s Fast and the Furious was the series first direct sequel.
The real life Drift King makes an appearance in Tokyo Drift. Although Brian Tee plays D.K. in movie, the real Drift King Keiichi Tsuchiya makes a cameo as the fisherman in the blue jacket who makes fun of Sean as he’s learning to drift. Tsuchiya actually performed most of the scenes of Sean learning how to drift.
Diesel wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a 20-minute short film entitled Los Bandoleros with Rodriguez, Sung Kang, Tego Calderón, Don Omar, and Mirtha Michell all together in the Dominican Republic. The short film shows the backstory of how the characters came together, leading into the tanker truck heist that begins Fast & Furious.
Sung Kang plays Han and previously worked with Justin Lin in Better Luck Tomorrow where he played a similar character named Han. Han’s full name is “Han Seoul-Oh,” an obvious nod to Han Solo from Star Wars. His full name is never mentioned until it appears on Hobbs’ computer screen in the background of a scene in Fast Five. This happens for no real reason other than it’s kind of funny.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was essentially cast thanks to Diesel’s Facebook page who asked his fans who they would like to see in the next movie.
Furious 7 finally explains when any of the movies take place thanks to a shot of Letty’s tombstone, showing her death in 2009.
In Furious 7, Hobbs is recovering in a hospital with a college football game in the background. It turns out he was watching himself! The game on the TV was an old college game from the University of Miami. The commentators reference ‘number 94’, referring to Dwayne Johnson who wore the jersey number 94 when he played college football for the University of Miami.
The Race Wars at the end of The Fast and the Furious is a real racing event that tours several cities and lets wannabe racers enter. The filmmakers filmed at the actual event which is why that scene looks so massive – it really was that big!
Universal Studios commissioned two separate scripts for 2 Fast 2 Furious. One included Vin Diesel’s character and the other didn’t, depending on whether or not he’d want to return to the franchise.
Jordana Brewster beat out several heavy hitting actresses for the role of Mia. Natalie Portman, Sarah Michelle Geller, Kirsten Dunst, Jessica Biel, and Bijou Phillips all auditioned – although the role was initially written for Eliza Dushku.
Brian and Letty only speak to each other once in the whole franchise. You can watch their short, monumental scene here.
The original titles being kicked around were Racer X, Redline, and Race Wars in homage of the big real-life race event. We’re glad they went with Fast and the Furious because Race Wars sounds like an iffy title for a movie.
There was a 1955 Roger Corman film called The Fast and the Furious which Universal had to buy the title rights to. We guarantee you it is not nearly as much fun as this franchise.