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Fate of the Furious director teases extended cut, has 'nothing but love' for Michelle Rodriguez

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The director’s extended edition ofThe Fate of the Furious is available now on digital HD, and the July 11 Blu-ray/DVD release will include a download for the extended version of the car-crash action opera. EW spoke to the film’s director, F. Gary Gray, about what viewers can expect in the longer cut. Gray also offered his thoughts on Furious star Michelle Rodriguez’s Instagram post demanding that the studio “show some love” for the franchise’s female characters in the next installment.

Check out an exclusive clip from the Fate of the Furious Blu-ray above, and read on for Gray’s comments below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can we expect from the extended director’s edition that wasn’t in the theatrical release?
F. GARY GRAY: If you love action, you’re gonna love the extra action we put in the extended cut. We put extra sequences in the movie. We extended some of your favorite sequences. That’s number one. Number two: I personally love humor, and I can’t help but shove it into any movie that I direct, regardless of genre. And so there’s more humor in the extended version of The Fate of the Furious. And there’s some cool character stuff. I got a chance to let a few moments breathe between Charlize and Vin. I think it’s almost 13 or 14 minutes longer, and that’s an eternity in film. You can do a scene in half a minute.

We’re running a behind-the-scenes clip of that great moment with the cars flying out of the parking garage. Can you talk about what it felt like being on set that day?
If you love that sequence where the cars are raining from the parking lot, can you imagine take two or take three, where you’re dropping cars from 200 feet in the air? I’ve been surrounded by mad scientists. My second-unit director Spiro Razatos, he’s dope. My special effects guys, J. D. Schwalm, they’re amazing. I gotta give a lot of credit to those guys. We dream this stuff up. They go out there and they make it happen.

On the day, when you shoot something like that, you turn into a kid, you know? I used to play with LEGOs and Hot Wheels when I was a kid. When you’re a director, you have all this responsibility, you have a big budget, you’re on all these deadlines. The moment you say “action,” and all these cars from raining out of the sky, they’re smashing the streets up… you just feel like you’re a kid playing in a toy box.

Especially because you’re not doing it digital. A lot of times in this climate, in Hollywood, people would do that all CG, all digital. No one’s gonna take the time to do a take two, or buy a lot of these brand new cars and destroy them in one take. By take three, you’ve already destroyed 50 cars!

Was there any scene in the movie that sticks out to you as a favorite, or a moment that was the most interesting to execute?
I really loved New York, because it was new, it was fresh, you hadn’t seen that before. But I gotta say, almost the opposite reason why I loved New York – because of all the technology and how modern and how timely that whole hacking moment was in this film – it’s almost the opposite for me with Cuba. I love being taken back in time, and almost kind of jumping in a time machine, getting a chance to race these vintage cars through the streets of Cuba. It almost felt like you’re being transported back to the 1950s. To get a chance to shoot in that environment, on those locations, with the beautiful buildings, the textures, the cars, the clothing, the culture was just the opposite of this very modern New York.

I really loved having the opportunity. Now the law’s changed, I don’t even think we could shoot out there anymore! I don’t want to be misquoted, but I think that our current administration rolled back all those rules.

You got in there just in time!
There was this window of time where the Obama administration allowed Americans to go in. And, there was a lot of of negotiating between the Obama administration and the current government to allow us to shoot there. They all kind of put their guns back in their holsters, looked the other way and allowed us to come in and shoot. I just feel really, really lucky, and very fortunate that they allowed us to do that. Now it feels like it’s not possible again. I hope that changes.

One of the stars of the franchise, Michelle Rodriguez, just posted on Instagram that she might leave the series if they don’t “show some love to the women of the franchise” in the next installment. How do you feel about her comments?
I have nothing but love for Michelle. That is something I imagine she’s addressing with the powers that be. I hope it all really works out for her. I can only speak for one film. I’ve only directed one film. I think with Fate of the Furious in particular, I think we did a pretty damn good job with how we treated the women. Especially given that Charlize Theron, I believe, delivered one of the best performances from an antagonist in the franchise. I got a chance to work with Helen Mirren – who was awesome, she has a great cameo – and Charlize, Michelle, Nathalie Emmanuel. You can’t really speak for each individual character, but I thought there was a strong performance from everyone involved.

I feel good about it, but I can’t speak about how she feels about the franchise as a whole. Like I said: I love her to death, I hope she finds some satisfaction in the near future.

Fate of the Furious was a huge box office success, and it came right on the heels of your film Straight Outta Compton, which was a real phenomenon back in 2015. Do you have your next project lined up?
I don’t know what the next film is, specifically. I have had an amazing run. I feel extremely fortunate that Compton performed and was well-received. Really happy we experienced the same for Fate of the Furious. I got a surprising call from my publicist the other day about getting my name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for 2018. That just blew my mind, just completely blew my mind. You can imagine, after Compton, after Fate, then Hollywood Walk of Fame? I’m on Cloud Nine right now. I’m almost afraid to wake up.

Would you do another Furious film?
We’ll see. Who knows what the future holds? You never say never.