By Derek Lawrence
May 21, 2021 at 06:00 AM EDT
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Forget the meats, Arby's also has the credit for Han's first revival.

During the latest episode of EW's BINGE: The Fast Saga, hosts Derek Lawrence and Chanelle Berlin Johnson were joined by Justin Lin, the director behind The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and the upcoming F9 (out June 25). For this BINGE installment, Lin was on to talk Fast & Furious, the franchise's fourth film, which he admits to this day never had a finished script. The outing reunited original stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, and Michelle Rodriguez, but the most surprising return was Sung Kang, who played the character of Han in Lin's indie Better Luck Tomorrow and Tokyo Drift, before Han seemingly met his death in the latter.

"After Tokyo Drift, I told the studio, 'I'm done, I think I'm going to go back to the indie world,'" recalls Lin. " It was for a while. I got invited to do this parade in San Francisco, and I was driving up with my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, and Sung, and we stopped at Arby's for lunch in central California, off the 5 Freeway, some tiny town. All of a sudden these kids saw Sung and they were like, 'Han!' He's being swarmed. It was the first time feeling that kind of impact. I still remember, I was driving on the on-ramp back after lunch and I said, "God, it's too bad Han is dead." Sung looked at me and said, "Does he have to be?" I was like, "Oh, this is everything I was talking to Vin about, the connection. We can actually now see and create our own timeline and mythology." I had my flip phone and called Universal and said, 'I'm in.' And that was the beginning of Fast 4... I don't go to Arby's normally, but for some reason, the three times I went to Arby's changed my life."

Fast & Furious (2009)
Credit: Universal Pictures

Lin would upend the entire Fast timeline in order to have Han alive in the next three films (and the upcoming F9), a move that he admits "was not an easy thing" to convince the studio to do. "It was a fight, not in a contentious way," he says. "It was serious concerns, but it also made me question and make sure that that is what I want."

Speaking on BINGE, the director further reveals that Kang wasn't the only other Fast alum he hoped to sneak into the fourth film. "It's classic Tyrese [Gibson]," Lin says with a laugh of the 2 Fast 2 Furious star. "It's one of those things where I called Tyrese, I'm like, 'Hey, we're going to do this. I'm letting you know, but you got to keep it under wraps.' Of course, I think he was at a red carpet and just blurted it out. I love him, we're like brothers. It all ultimately worked out for the best. But I was already thinking about peppering in some of the characters, because I think it's the spirit of Tokyo Drift at the end, and I wanted to continue that."

FAST & FURIOUS
Credit: Everett Collection

Gibson's Roman Pearce would eventually surface again in 2011's Fast Five, which brought together the heroes from the first four films, including Gibson, Diesel, Walker, Rodriguez, Kang, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, and Gal Gadot. And Lin says the genesis of this epic team-up came from a surprising place.

"The Golden Girls are part of the Fast lore because when I was a kid I loved Golden Girls," shares Lin of the beloved '80s sitcom about a group of older women living together in Florida. "Saturday nights, it was Golden Girls, Empty Nest, and then there was [Nurses]. They had this thing called Hurricane Saturday night, all three episodes got hit by a hurricane. That was the first time where I was like, 'Oh, they all exist in the same universe.' That was the inspiration for Fast Five. We brought back all the characters, they all existed in the same universe. That's the Golden Girls connection."

Lin adds that his "dream" casting for the final two Fast films would be Golden Girls star Betty White.

Film Title: Fast & Furious
Credit: Jaimie Trueblood/Universal

He's no Rose Nylund, but John Cena joins the universe in F9 as the never seen or discussed Jakob Toretto, brother to Mia (Brewster) and Dom (Diesel). The arrival of Jakob is even more surprising given the fact that in Fast & Furious Mia asks Dom, as he prepares to leave for a revenge-mission, "How do you say goodbye to your only brother?" Considering the impending introduction, what does Lin have to say about that 12-year-old line?

"I can say that everything's going to be accounted for," he declares. "I would say not even F9, but I think in the expansion of how we tell these stories. I'm glad you caught that line and I'm sure you're keeping me accountable, which is great, but we're going to earn that line, I promise you."

To listen, subscribe to EW's BINGE: The Fast Saga feed via Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also subscribe to EW's YouTube page to catch all the video interviews, and stay tuned to EW.com for even more Fast coverage — including next Friday's chat with Jordana Brewster about the legendary Fast Five.

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Justin Lin:

All of a sudden, these kids saw Sung and they're like, "Han, Han." And next thing I know, he's being swarmed by all these kids. It was the first time feeling that kind of impact. And I still remember, I was driving on the on-ramp back after lunch and I said, "God, it's too bad Han is dead." And Sung looked at me and said, "Does he have to be though?" And I was like, "Oh, this is like everything else happening to Vin about, the connection, we can actually now see and we can create our own timeline and mythology." And I had my flip phone and I called Jeff Kirschenbaum at that point, I said, "I'm in." That was the beginning of Fast 4.

Derek Lawrence:

Ask any podcaster, any real podcaster, it doesn't matter if you record in-person or over video chat, podcasting is podcasting. Welcome back to EW's BINGE of The Fast Saga, full transcripts of which are available on ew.com. I'm Derek Lawrence, aka the guy who won his Dominic Toretto for two straight Halloweens, and as that icon once said, "The most important thing in life will always be the people in this Zoom, right here, right now." And for me, that's the Dom to my Brian, the Letty to my Mia, the Roman to my Tej, the Gisele to my Han, Chanelle Berlin Johnson. Chanelle, are you ready to talk about the family reunion, that is Fast & Furious, aka Fast 4?

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Oh, so ready. I have to say that this, I think, now, at this point, might be the Fast movie I've re-watched the fewest times, surprisingly. But it's actually so important. There's so much bringing the folks back together that's so important for down the line that you sort of forget about just how much is planted here, which is great to revisit it. So yeah, I'm excited to talk about it.

Derek Lawrence:

We owe a lot to this film. Obviously, it brought everyone back together, it revives Han, but most importantly, this birthed this unprecedented run that Fast is on. Obviously, Tokyo Drift was a hit, but they make four, obviously we talked to Vin, he pitched doing four and five back to back and they're like, "Are you insane?" Where now, that'd be a no brainer. And as Justin talks about, Justin Lin, who's on the show today, he talks about their expectations were pretty low. Not like low, they were just like in comparison to what they ended up doing, and the film was a surprise smash hit, makes 70 million. It set the record for April box office opening at the time. And then it gives us the Fast Fives, the Fast 6s, the Fast 7s and onward, so it's really important from that perspective.

But as a refresher for any new listeners, in case all the Wonder Woman fans decided to see why Gal Gadot was always our Wonder Woman, ahead of F9's June 25th release, we're binging all of the Fast movies with the family themselves. We've already chatted with Vin Diesel, Ludacris, Lucas Black, about the first three movies, you can go listen to those back in the archives on ew.com. But today, it's the architect of the Fast movies, of five Fast movies now, including the upcoming F9, director, Justin Lin. But before we talk to Justin, who I said did Fast 3 through six, now back for nine, Chanelle, what do people need to remember about this fourth film?

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

So yeah, kind of already what I said up top is originally, this movie was kind of a reboot, restart to the franchise, and we drop things in and everybody's kind of in their own spaces, Dom and Letty are first together, but then Dom goes on the run alone because the heat's so hot on him. Dom's on the run, and Mia's in LA, Brian's back in law enforcement. It's more of a sequel to the first movie than three, but with the key change being that we see how Han fit into the family before everything that happens in Tokyo. We get that little nod and officially sort of makes a Tokyo Drift later in the timeline of the universe. But of course, then, the thrust of the film, Letty dies and that sort of puts Dom on a revenge quest because he has to avenge Letty's death, Letty's murder.

Brian ends up coming back entangling with him because they're on a track to find the same person, the same people for different reasons, and then, that, of course, brings Mia back into the fold as well. A lot of action, and then we also see Rico and Tego who, of course, were in five and reappear also. But yeah, it's part reunion and part setting up sort of the next chapter of Fast. And then, by the end, Dom decides to, instead of running, go to jail, but, of course, it ends with this incredible scene where you see Brian, and Mia, Tego and Rico, ready to break him out of this bus, which we later know, becomes the catalyst for Fast Five. And that's what we got, Fast 4 setting things up.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, there's so many, setting us up, like you said, bringing Han back, the original justice for Han, upending the timeline to bring him back here at the opening of Fast 4. So we have so much to talk about. We're going to go to Justin now, but after that interview, stay tuned because Chanelle and I will jump back on and hand out some Fast 4 awards. But until then, here's Justin Lin.

Derek Lawrence:

I heard they were doing some crazy in Tokyo. So we need to talk to director Justin Lin about Fast & Furious. Justin, welcome to our binge of Fast.

Justin Lin:

Thanks for having me.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Thank you for being here.

Derek Lawrence:

Absolutely, like I said, we love your F9 hats. People won't have seen it yet, but we talked to Sung for F6 and he had a justice for ham t-shirt. I don't know the mystery it says but you get a lot of questions on it from his kosher friends. So I appreciate everyone coming in their appropriate gear.

Justin Lin:

Nice, I love that. He handed those shirts out when we were shooting without saying anything, so we would just wear it on set and you just see people, you'd be working all day, and then, middle of the day, they squint and they go, "Wait, wait, it's so soft." I loved it.

Derek Lawrence:

Trust me, I've been Googling trying to track down those shirts, they're really personalized.

Justin Lin:

I'll get you one. I think I snagged a few, so I'll get you guys some.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Oh, that'd be amazing.

Derek Lawrence:

Awesome, this interview is already working out so great, we're two minutes. Well, thank you so much, Justin, like I said, for joining us. And I feel like I just have to start, since we have you here. Each episode I've been telling what I'm calling Derek's embarrassing story of the week, which just kind of shows my Fast fan of how maybe I take it too far sometimes. In the first episode, Vin rightfully called me out for dressing up as Dom for two straight Halloweens, so that's a little taste of some of where these stories go. But this one directly involves you.

Now, back in 2016, I don't know if you remember, you were directing obviously the new Star Trek movie and they did a 50th anniversary kind of big event over at the Paramount lot. And they were debuting some really exclusive footage from the film. I know they took our phones, it was real lockdown type situation. And then they show the footage, and then it ends, and you're over in the corner standing next to JJ Abrams. Obviously, JJ was a producer of the film, he had just done Star Wars. And everyone swarms JJ. I'm sure they all have all these Star Wars questions, all that stuff. And I see you just kind of hanging out kind of to the side.

I made a beeline. I was like, "I got to go up to him." And I walk up to you, and all I said was, "Nice to meet you. Fast Five is my favorite film of all the time." And I think I shook your hand and walked away. I was just like, I needed to get it off my chest, and I needed to get it back off my chest today, even though we're talking Fast 4, just so everyone always remembers how great Fast Five is.

Justin Lin:

Oh man, I remember that. I grew up as a Star Trek kid, and it was great. And that event, it was in the cutting room and it's weird, usually when I'm cutting, I'm in that mode. And then they're doing this huge presentation. And so, yeah, I was just glad that JJ was so great, he was like the linebacker. I stood there for, I think, two minutes and I took off and went back to the cutting room, so I'm always grateful. But I always loved the Fast energy.

Oh, by the way, the Golden Girls are part of the Fast-lore because when I was a kid, I loved Golden Girls, Saturday night. And it was Golden Girls, and then it was Empty Nest. Do you remember that? I forget the one hour with the Archie Bunker, Into the Night, I think, was the third. And then they had this thing called Hurricane Saturday Night, it was one weekend, and all three episodes got hit by hurricane. And that was the first time when I was like, "Oh, they all exist in the same universe."

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

That's amazing.

Justin Lin:

So that was the inspiration for Fast Five, so.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

That's incredible.

Justin Lin:

We brought back all the characters. They all existed in the same universe, that's the Golden Girls connection.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

That's beautiful.

Derek Lawrence:

There's our headline right there, Golden Girls inspired Fast Five. I love it.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Yeah, one great team up, another great team up, that's perfect.

Derek Lawrence:

We've been starting each episode by quoting the famous words of Dom. He lives his life a quarter mile at a time. For those 10 seconds or less, he's free. So how would you summarize Fast 4 in 10 seconds?

Justin Lin:

I mean, do you want me to try to sell it or was it more of a creative description because-

Derek Lawrence:

You're the creative here, you're the mind behind the film, so wherever your mind goes.

Justin Lin:

It was really interesting because when I think back, and usually, I love making these movies because we don't really... I'm so grateful that we're here because, usually, I'm not thinking backwards trying to plow ahead. And when I heard that I'm going to be on talking about Fast 4, it brought back all these memories, and I realized how special. I think there's so many things, on so many levels, that happened on that film that really kind of was the seed. And there's an importance to that chapter that I didn't even realize. I mean, I always kind of knew, but thinking about it, for example, I think after Tokyo Drift, I actually told the studio that, "I'm done, I think I'm going to go back to the indie world. I had a great time."

It was for a while, it was a good chunk of time where I was actually trying to get back. I wanted to do a five million dollar indie movie. And I got invited to do this parade in San Francisco. And I was driving up with my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, and Sung, and we were driving up on the 5, this is 2007, and we stopped at Arby's for lunch. And we're just friends hanging out, and all of a sudden these kids saw Sung and they're like, "Han, Han." And this is Central California, right off the 5 freeway, some little tiny town. And next thing I know, he's being swarmed by all these kids, and I'm just sitting there.

And again, this is 2007. So internet, it wasn't as big. It was the first time feeling that kind of impact. And I still remember, I was driving on-ramp back after lunch. And I said, "God, it's too bad Han is dead." And then Sung looked at me and said, "Does he have to be though?" And I was like, "Oh, this like everything else having to Vin about, the connection, we can actually now see, and we can create our own timeline and mythology." And I had my flip phone and I called Jeff Kirschenbaum at that point, I said, "I'm in." And that was the beginning of Fast 4. It was at an Arby's off of 5 freeway going back to San Francisco.

Derek Lawrence:

So we have Arby's and Golden Girls to thank for these great Fast & Furious movies, I love that so much.

Justin Lin:

My career, there's like three Arby's stories where it was so pivotal, and I don't go to Arby's normally, but for some reason, the three times I went to Arby's changed my life.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

You're going to start anticipating it now, someone suggests it, you're like, "Oh no, something big is coming."

Derek Lawrence:

That's too good. The film is called Fast & Furious. And that's also been what we've been calling the franchise, until now, it's Fast & Furious. Is it even funny, you cut off the confusion of it with the title, you guys have been so great with titles. I mean, I'm still on the floor over 2 Fast. I told Ludacris that's the greatest title of the history of film. I feel like Fast for Life was just sitting there, I'm just saying, this is 15 years later I'm throwing that out. But I don't know, was there was a lot of discussions about the title?

Justin Lin:

Yeah, it was interesting because I would say, and I'll be honest, Fast & Furious when I joined is not Fast & Furious today. It's been such a journey and I was still a very young filmmaker. And I think one of the things that when you first get into the game of making movies, especially big movies, is trying to really establish a relationship with the marketing department. And it could be very alienating because sometimes you're making a movie and then they're marketing it like some other... And I've had that experience, not in Fast. And so, I remember sitting there and having these conversations. When I was starting off, I could tell that, maybe they're having a bad day with Michael Bay, so they come and try to kick my ass because I'm the young filmmaker.

I was really interesting because I remember sitting and talking, and I was trying to convey what we were trying to do with the movie, but I would leave the meeting, going, "God, I wonder if they're even listening to me." And one of the things that we wanted to do was that we wanted to evolve the franchise. We felt like after Tokyo Drift, this opportunity came. I was searching for like, "Okay, so how do we articulate this idea of trying to evolve the franchise?" And it was something that Vin and I connected on. And then, when I was talking to Paul, just naturally, it felt like we somehow found each other, and Michelle. And it was really clear that like, "Wow, it's weird." In Hollywood, we all kind of found ourselves through Sundance, we were not supposed to be here.

At that time, they're like, "You want to be a director? You're Asian-American, you want to be..." And Vin, everyone's like, "No, you should be a character act." And he went and made his own film, and Michelle with Girl Fights. So we all kind of connected on that energy. So we had talked about, "Well, we want to really embrace and honor the spirit of Fast & Furious, but we want this to be a new chapter. We want this to be something that is us, but we're making a signal. If we're lucky enough to have more opportunity, we're going to keep trying to evolve it."

And so, it was amazing that I had my struggles on Tokyo Drift on the trailer, and I remember I got a call. On Tokyo Drift, it was one of those things where I'm like, "Hey, we're trying to do something different, can we just get the audience to get excited?" And then they realize it's a Fast & Furious film, and they're like, "No, we got the music." It was a fight that I just couldn't have the right conversation and I was really bummed. And then, I remember I got the call from the studio and it was Frank [inaudible 00:16:10] and Adam Fogelson, they said, "Well, I think you're going to like this one." And if you look at the Fast 4 trailer, for the first 10 seconds, you didn't know what film it was. And then Dom turns around, that was the sentiment. It was such a great, earned connection where marketing, filmmaking and everything.

And then on top of that, when they said Fast & Furious, I was like, "Wow, I thought the first one was called Fast & Furious." But then I looked at it and I was like, "This is perfect, it's perfect." Nobody knew what it was going to do. I remember opening weekend, they were projecting 27 million, they'd be happy at 30, all the number crunching and we blew that. Just to give you a sense of scale, I didn't even know if we were going to have billboards and stuff, that's that was like a time.

We were editing on the lot, and someone said, "You should go to Universal Studios, there's actually billboards." So I walked from the cutting room to Universal Studio. I took the escalators up and I was like, "Whoa, we have billboards." And then on the way back, I got stopped by security, and they're like, "What are you doing?" They thought I was a visitor sneaking onto the lot. And they were going to take me to Universal jail [crosstalk 00:17:39]. And I'm like, "No, it's my movie, I went to look at the billboard." Anyway, it's a long way of how it was kind of this earned moment where whether it was the trailer, the title, it somehow all kind of clicked together in the spirit of saying, "Hey, we're going to do something different. We don't want a number behind it on this one, but we want to capture the essence." And I just thought taking the the out was amazing.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

It feels like it works too because as the audience member, it feels like kind of a restart of the franchise in a way, you bring everybody back together. And so, that's how I think of it now in retrospect. But I guess while you're making or while you're trying to get across what you guys want to do for the studio, does that take some of the pressure away or did you feel that even making that, that we have to bring it back in exactly the right way?

Justin Lin:

It was a lot of pressure. I think it was also a kind of tonal pressure. And look, at the end of the day, personally, I like pressure, I want to take accountability. I don't like it when filmmakers go, "I do one for them. I do one for me." And it's like, "Well, God, that would suck if you're doing one for them, because what are you doing?" And I feel like it doesn't matter if I'm doing a pilot or an indie movie, I should always go all in and fight for the fight. Again, I talked to, again, Paul, Michelle, Jordana and Vin, and we talked a lot about the state of Fast & Furious. And I said, "Look, I just came off Tokyo Drift, we are really trying to reestablish our relationship with the people who love cars."

That was something that, it was damaged when I talked to car people, and I really wanted to do that and honor them, their passion, and let's continue to do that. And so, we made a commitment that, no matter what, people can laugh at us, they could do whatever they want, but we're going to take this seriously. So it was a conscious tonal effort to say, "You know what, we're going to rebuild this, we're not going to be reactive, but let's really kind of shift this. But at the same time, let's really kind of honor what people love about these characters, about this world, and again, this is the seed that we're going to plant."

Derek Lawrence:

So obviously, you do Tokyo Drift, and then I know at the end, you guys bring back Vin as Dom for that little teaser, which I still remember in the theater, you're like, "Holy crap." You're kind of mind's blown in the theater when Sean drives up and sees Dom across from him. And you said you were kind of resistant, obviously, to then doing another Fast film, but when it was brought to you or when you guys were talking about it, was it always going to be a full reunion of the original cast? I saw some Twitter thread recently that was making the rounds from a former universal exec that was saying that maybe originally there was a kind of Dom and Letty more central story. On your end, what's really what happened there?

Justin Lin:

First of all, I love that with success, there's just all these different narratives out there. People will tell me about like, "Oh yeah, so-and-so said this." And I'm like, "I was there, I know what happened." Yeah, and so I was in that room. I mean, unless they were hiding in the walls or something, I don't understand. But it was very clear to me, and again, I know I've shared the story before, I think when I first met with Vin, it wasn't like, "Hey, let's go make more movies." It was actually just connecting on the mythology and the connection between the characters.

When they first approached me, I was like, "Yeah, I don't know, I don't know if I want to do it." I think it was more just like the state of mind. I had come from the indie world, and I just had this desire to say, "Hey, I want to try that." But in many ways, Fast 4 became the big indie movie, and even after saying yes, I hadn't met Paul. So I went and sat down with Paul and we connected instantly, and it was great.

Obviously, I've worked with Jordana before, and Michelle and I, I felt like there was a connection, and it just felt very organic. They would never talk of like, "Well, let's just do this or that." Again, it was more about like, "Well, how do we going to do it? Let's not do it in a way where it just feels like, "Oh, there's an opportunity and let's just go and make another one. Let's really have a reason for being."

And again, kind of going back to me, I look back now and it's this idea of accountability. I just want to make sure that as a filmmaker, as a director, that if you like something, great, if you don't like something, don't blame it on... If you don't like a performance, don't blame it on the actor, blame it on me. That's what I wanted to do. That was something that I felt like there was going to be a culture shift behind the cameras too. And so, that's layers and layers of things that I think when I look at Fast 4, again, it's a lot of the kind of growing pains of learning evolution and trying to really develop that language even between us.

Derek Lawrence:

Speaking of Paul, you said, and it's funny, I have an oral history of the first movie coming out. I was able to obviously to talk to Vin, Michelle, Jordana, everyone, but then my colleague, Darren, had all these unused Paul quotes from what he had talked to Paul for Fast 6. And it was incredible stuff, I was just smiling, reading everything. But then somehow four came up and he legit, I read what he says, he's like, "The fourth one, I flat out read it and I did not like it. I was like we're booked for filming, I finally got the script of like, what, oh, crap." But then he's like, "Justin made it better." Do you remember kind of Paul having any hesitation there? What, in your mind, were the conversations like and what did you go do to be like, "All right, we're going to go in this direction and improve here?"

Justin Lin:

He was being very kind. I don't think there was actually a script when he read. I'm honest with you, there was a strike and I did not want to overstep. So for a young filmmaker, it was really tough. Showing up, and I have 100 people in the same room saying, "Hey, there's no script, but here's what we're going to do, and trying to prep a movie with no texts." It was tough. And it was one of those things where we had to build our trust and process of making the movie. And I know I used this analogy before and pun intended, I guess, it's like we literally are building a road as we're driving on it.

And so, I actually agree with Paul, I don't think it was a straight shot. When I look back now, the miracle of four is the fact that we're able to be able to put a cohesive story. And now I feel like maybe with age and maturity, it's something that I always like to prep, prep, prep, so I can be spontaneous, but in four, you had to be spontaneous because there was nothing else. So it was a lot of kind of going by your gut and also just trying to figure out how to make these movies because you're always trying to put the money on screen, so you're trying to be efficient. And so, how do you develop that language? And I think when the crew is that big, and you got multiple units and stuff, I always feel like as a filmmaker, there's like a buffet of things you can do, and there's no right, and there's no wrong.

And four, for me, was really this test of like, "Okay, how do I develop this language?" And it's not like I'm going to film school, and I come back and make a movie. I go to film school and come back... What I'm learning, you guys are experiencing it. So I'm like I'm learning in public light. Maybe 20 years from now, or even now you look at my films and you can say, "Oh, okay, maybe he learned this, and he grew."

I know that usually, in premiers, when I'm sitting there, I already have the list of stuff that I'm going to get better at. And so, that's my approach. But yeah, I think Paul is being very generous, I don't think there's even a full script for four. But it was one of those things where it was really tough, but ultimately, I think the strike, it got lifted just in time and it was just trying to get all that. So I think there was a lot of trust from him and from all the cast because I think when they signed on, I think there was maybe just an outline or... it was pretty bare.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Wow, and by the time the movie came out though, Paul, I went back and watched junket interviews, and he was excited. He was like, "It turned into something I'm really loving," except with one exception, which is that he had really hoped that you guys could figure out how to bring Tyrese as Roman into four. And obviously, it ends up happening in five. But I read an interview from you, where you said at one point, it seemed like you guys got really close to at least filming one scene with Roman. What was that scene?

Justin Lin:

Oh, you guys are will get me in trouble. Did I say that? Oh, my goodness. Oh, it's classic Tyrese, it's classic Tyrese. It's one of those things where I call Tyrese, I'm like, "Hey, we're going to do this. I'm letting you know, but you got to keep it under wraps." And of course, I think he was at a red carpet and he's just blurted out. I love him, we're like brothers. And it all ultimately worked out for the best but I was already thinking about peppering in some of the characters because I think, again, it's kind of the spirit of Tokyo Drift at the end, and I wanted to kind of continue that.

Derek Lawrence:

I mean, sticking with the who isn't or is in the movie, what went into the decision to "kill Letty" so early in the fourth film? Was it always the plan that she eventually come back, or? Because if there were, we talked to Michelle, she didn't know anything, she's a good bluffer at this point, but she said she remembers getting the call from them after... or she walked out of the theater of Fast Five and saw the end credits, and was like, "Wait, what's going on?" So what were those conversations with the fate of Letty here in the fourth one.

Justin Lin:

I could tell you that it was for real. Again, I'm sorry, I'm going to detour a little bit because I get these questions of like, "What order should we watch Fast movies?" And I used to think that, well, maybe you should watch it chronologically, then my son, he's 11, so he was kind of getting into the franchise, and we did that and I thought, "No, that's wrong. I think you have to watch it one, two, Tokyo drift, four, and that's the way to experience it because that's part of kind of our growth because there was a very sincere effort and it was not like, "Let's kill Letty." That was not the essence of why we did it. It was this idea of sometimes people just expect certain things when it comes to sequels and stuff, what can we do, especially, I think when you look at the timeline of like 2008, 2009, what can we do that is for real that we can own?

And so, when I look at Fast & Furious, I think a lot of it is its kind of this earned universe and that we're also developing the language as we're growing. And so, it was a ballsy move. I remember we made that commitment and then we started shooting the land train, and that was my first time working with Michelle, and I'm like, "Oh, man, I love working with her and we're going to kill her? I'm responsible for that?" And so, I was torn. Even shooting it, I was just like, "God." It felt like it was the right call for the movie, but then at the same time, I'm beating myself up going, "Oh, man, I love her so much. She is just so great to work with."

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

You start planting the seeds in four for what could be future movies, but at what point did you realize five is the time to finally bring all of these characters together?

Justin Lin:

Yeah, if you look at four, I felt like that was the right ending, it felt like that was going to take us into something else. But again, I never sit there and expect a sequel. Again, we weren't sure what the opening of four was going to be, or if we're going to be able to earn it.

So it was kind of interesting because, again, the projections and stuff, I don't really get into that too much, but you're around executives, and they start talking, and I just remember, they were like, "Is it 27 million for the weekend?" And they're like, "We'd be happy with 35." And then at some point, the Thursdays were going up, and it was like 50. And then it went up to, I think, 70 or something like that, I don't even know the numbers, but I just remember it kept going up.

So it was one of those things where after opening weekend, the studio was like, "Yeah, let's go." Well, then creatively, like, "Oh, this is really great, we earned it." But then it was also kind built. I love it when these moments are kind of like, they all kind of converge and it was one of those... Again, I'll give you another great story. I didn't know the opening weekend. And I remember Jordana, she's so sweet, opening weekend, she sent me a bottle of milk and cookies. It just showed up on my door and I was like, "Great, I haven't drunk milk, I'm lactose intolerant since I was a kid."

But I remember that night, I just conked out, and I woke up, and all the lights were on, it was like three, 4:00 AM, and I'm just starving. So I'm like, "God, milk and cookie sounds so good." So I got this big glass of milk, I'm eating with cookie and I go on my internet. And this is like four in the morning, and my email, it was like, everyone, "Congratulations." I'm like, "What's happening?" I looked it up and I was like, "Oh, wow, so it was this great moment, I'm by myself. I still remember it's like magic hour, the sun is just about to come up and this great moment, just like looking at it, going, "Holy crap." We really connected and this is something that I look back now, such a great moment.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Yeah.

Derek Lawrence:

I remember going opening weekend, I think it was even like opening night, and it was just an energy that I wasn't prepared for. And we were talking to Vin, and obviously, he skipped 2 fast, and then he comes back and he said he told the studio, while you guys are making four, he's like, "You'd save a lot of money if we did four and five back-to-back." And he's like, "They almost kicked me off the lot." He's like the host kind of insane, so it's kind of crazy.

Justin Lin:

I love him, but he's always a dreamer. It's like, every time you think you're ready, he's like, "Yeah, let's do 10 in a row or whatever." We're like, "What? What are you talking about? I'm trying to make one movie."

Derek Lawrence:

You talked about it up at the top, which maybe it was the reason you decided to do this fourth movie is you bring Han back at the beginning of Fast 4, appending the whole timeline. What were those conversations like? You walk into, you're like, "All right, I'm in." Or you walk into Universal and you're like, "Okay, this is what we're going to do, we're going to go backwards and revive this character, everyone's like, "Okay, sure, let's do it." Or what were those conversations like?

Justin Lin:

No, no. No way.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Too easy.

Justin Lin:

I mean, look, I always enjoy great discourse. I think sometimes you get this kind of sense that it's like filmmaker versus the studio, and studio is evil. And I don't know, maybe it's like my way in was kind of through indie movies. So I've always felt like, whenever we have impasse, I've always had these great partners where I felt like we had great discussions. And ultimately, there was a trust for the filmmaker. I wouldn't be doing my fifth Fast movie if it was any different. But I also felt like it was something that, again, we earn this relationship. And off of Tokyo Drift, I think there was already kind of this built process, but the haunting was not an easy thing. It went all the way; we've had discussions and there was definitely a big concern that people are going to be confused.

And my argument was that, at that point with the Fast franchise, I think anybody talking anything about Fast is always a positive. I mean, I'll be honest, I think doing a Fast without Dom, or Brian, or Letty or Mia, people were like, "Oh, you're the orphan child of Fast?" And that was kind on the reality of Tokyo Drift. And so, to be able to kind of bring Dom and kind of connect and say, "No, we all exist in this world, in this universe," that was important.

Look, things shouldn't be easy in life; it should be hard. And I knew that was going to be the thing. That fight went all the way to the very end where I said, "Look, this is about the mythology of Fast, we're developing this language and I want to respect the viewers. I believe that they're definitely intelligent and they're sophisticated enough that when we do this, they're going to figure it out." And sure enough, the movie came out, it was not an issue at all. But I think there was serious concern and it was down to the very last moment, and it was a fight. But I'd say fight, not in a contentious way, it was serious concerns. But it also made me question and make sure that that is what I want.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

It's interesting because it almost sounds like because of when it happened before, like social media was as big as it is, they didn't know how much fervor was in the fandom for a character like Han and for all the movies as a whole. And then you're like, "No, I saw it this is it. Trust us."

Derek Lawrence:

I was at that Arby's. You should have been at the Arby's, you should have known.

Justin Lin:

It is interesting because I am so proud, but I also got... I'm like, "Am I the old man now in the room?" Because yeah, back when the internet wasn't that big, and social media was... but it's true though, it's a small sample size back then, and it was like talking to people in small rooms, and there wasn't a connection that there is today. But, again, I keep talking about this conversation I had with Vin by his pool when we first met, and it was just this idea of trying to really respect whatever mythology and relationship we're building. And I felt like that was one that was worth taking. And to be honest, I also felt like it was appropriate because Tokyo Drift, our goal was to make it timeless because it was a postmodern take on that genre. And it's funny looking back now, because I remember people were like, "God, you can't record video live on your phone." I'm like, "Yeah, they're flip phones, but you can do it, you can do it now." Right?

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Right.

Derek Lawrence:

It's funny, Han shows up at the beginning of Fast 4, and then he's like, oh, he's like, "I heard they're doing some crazy stuff in Tokyo." So then we're like, "Oh, okay, I guess he's going up to Tokyo, and that Tokyo Drift's going to play out."

Dom:

Han, we had a good run, time for you to go and do your own thing.

Han:

Heard they're doing some crazy shit in Tokyo.

Derek Lawrence:

As you're doing that, as you're shooting that, were you're viewing it as just a one-off? Or did you know that like, "Okay, we're going to keep going and he'll get to Tokyo eventually," as he says at the end of Fast Five.

Justin Lin:

Yeah, no, it was always like a little nod, but then I joke with Sung, I'm like, "You know when you get to Tokyo, you're going to die." So Sung is always like, "Oh, let's just do the nod and let's keep going."

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Put it off for a while.

Justin Lin:

Yeah.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

We've got to take a quick break, but we'll be right back.

Derek Lawrence:

Now that we're gassed up, let's drive back into the interview.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Obviously, in connection with Han, another character that we're introduced to in four that he doesn't meet her is Gisele, who, of course, becomes really important through the next few movies. And at the time, Gal Gadot was pretty new, this is her, I think, feature debut. And so, as you are bringing that character in, what was that there? Was it immediately like, "Oh, we have to find a way to bring this character back," or did you kind of already know that you wanted that Gisele character to evolve?

Justin Lin:

Well, first I think, again, I give Universal so much credit because it started, for me, it was on Tokyo Drift. I said, "Hey, let's do color-blind casting." And I remember back then, they're like, "Why? Why would..." It wasn't anything, I don't think it was people trying to be ignorant. It was just very pragmatic like, "Well, this is the way things are done." And I just felt like, "Well, it would be great because I just came in from the indie world where I felt like, "You know what, there's a lot of very talented people who aren't getting the opportunity, so wouldn't it make sense if we just put the net wider? And then we have the potential meeting some great people that can come and join us."

And so, then, to their credit, the Tokyo Drift experience was great because they just opened it up. I learned a lot, because I also learned that some people who were talented weren't prepared. And I would pull them aside and say, "Hey, man, if you're coming for a lead, you better be off-book. You cannot just be reading on pages still." Things like that and I was like, "I love it. Those are the little side stories that I love."

And so, when we did the Gisele character, same thing, we did a worldwide search. And I still remember, Gal sent in her audition tape, I can still remember the lamp behind her. She did it in her living room and there was just something about her. I think we chose the final five, and we flew in five actresses from around the world to do a screen test within. And obviously, when that's happening, there's a lot of politicking, there's a lot of people trying to put their relationships at work. And I just remember, there were other candidates who were really good, but it was like they come with their posse, and they had a whole team, and it was just amazing to see kind of Hollywood at work.

But Gal just came by herself and she just nailed. And I just remember sitting there going, "God, I'm so happy the process resulted in us meeting her. And she was just fearless and there's just something about her. And even when I was talking to her, she was in the military and just the way she handled herself, but also the guns, there's just something that was so powerful and awesome. And so, it was a great way to kind of meet her, because we started the process, and the process yielded in that relationship. So yeah, I mean, when we were going to five, I'm like, "Yeah, we're bringing her back, for sure, so."

Derek Lawrence:

Obviously, there's a lot of sparks between Dom and Gisele in that fourth movie. It's there's great chemistry, when they go down to the garage, or in that party, and they kind of have the little, "I can appreciate your body." Kind of talk.

Gisele:

Something interesting about this car.

Dom:

Just admiring the bodywork.

Gisele:

Are you one of those boys who prefers cars to women?

Dom:

I'm one of those boys that appreciates a fine body regardless of the make.

Derek Lawrence:

So then what was the evolution then moving forward? You're actually like we're going to pivot away from this little dynamic, and alter it, and then send her character in the direction of Han.

Justin Lin:

Well, it wasn't as much of a pivot, it always felt like... And I think you will see, I mean, in Fast 9 too, there's a lot of interactions with Dom that, I think, when I'm working with Vin, and when we're working the scenes out, when you feel like there's like a spark or an energy, you lean towards it. It's not even a conscious thing and I wouldn't even say it's like a sexualizer or anything like that. I think when we're lucky enough that people put up a scene and there's an energy, you kind of lean into it. And I think, for me, that moment was really about two alphas kind of testing each other. And obviously, you can feel the attraction. I always say that these big stunts are great, it takes like a year to plan, to try to get it, but the scariest things is when you're on set and you're just trying to find the chemistry.

And I was shooting Downtown LA and it was just something really amazing on that day because Gal showed up, Vin came in, and we actually were on set with the car and it felt like there was something that was really brewing between the two characters that I love, because it went beyond the text, it wouldn't be all even that moment, and it was about their past, individual past, and how it converges and then, ultimately, it's going to yield something more. And so, it was more of that. So it was never like love interest this or that. Obviously, Dom was on a pretty dark journey on the film, but at the same time, it was like two creatures that had very similar energy that we wanted to capture.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

I feel like in general, in the Fast franchise, there could be an opportunity, like in an alternate universe where both Dom and Brian are a little more like James Bond and there's like the fast girl, but that never really happens in any of the movies. Obviously, Brian, has the relationship with Monica in 2, and then there is Elsa Pataky character in five that Dom sort of goes off with a little bit, but for the most part, there's a thread of loyalty running through the romance, like Brian and Mia ended up back together. Is that kind of what's always at the forefront for you guys? Is it intentional to separate Fast from a more traditional sort of or more typical, what we're used to seeing action franchise when it comes to how men and women interact?

Justin Lin:

I think that we never really have meetings about it. I just say personally, going all the way back to Better Luck Tomorrow, I always kind of enjoy really meeting the actors, talking to them about the character. And I think that's something that Vin and I, we enjoy, and that's spread through every character. Like Shea Whigham, I could sit there and talking about Stasiak for hours. And now, it's become years. And I enjoy that, but sometimes on-screen time, it's only like five minutes or something like that, but I enjoy just talking to him about what's happening with his career and things. And so, it's like that for every character.

To me, it doesn't matter if they're on for a couple of scenes, like Michael Rooker on F9, I had some of the best conversations with him about his character. And obviously, he's actually part of the universe and he's existed for a long time. But when you watch the film, he's only in a couple scenes. So I think that's not foreign, that's something that I've always enjoyed doing. And so, I think that naturally leads into the development. And the one thing that I learned from Dan Harmon and everybody, doing Community, is that, you should never be arrogant to think that at all, and if there's something good, work it. And if you can organically work it in, it's to your advantage in storytelling.

It's not even about like male, female, I was just really proud to work with talented people and trying to fight for their real estate, fight for their emotional real estate, and I think that always yields in something more interesting. And so, it was part of the process, but we never I'm just proud that it's not even about male or female. I was just really proud to work with talented people and trying to fight for their emotional real estate. And I think that always yields in something more interesting.

And so, it was part of a process, but we never sat down and said, "Here's what we're going to do." The one thing I did talk to Vin about, was this commitment of like, "Let's not do the same thing over and over." Again, I give the studio so much credit because it's like usually when you're successful, people tend to become very conservative and they're like, "Oh, it worked on this movie, so let's do the same thing again." And so, for us to go in there and go, "Oh yeah, that did really well, now we're going to try something brand new." I think that usually, you probably get a little bit like, "Okay, we trust you." I remember the vault sequence in five, at one point, was the opening of Fast Five. It was actually going to be in Bolivia.

Imagine like, "Wait, they're dragging a vault out of the what?" That's an example of like, "Well, we don't want to rest. We want to take the essence of what we love, but how can we evolve this?" And then also, Mia's pregnancy, and it was something that you don't see in James Bond. And I think a lot of that is also influenced by us behind the camera. As we were kind of growing, it inspired us to say, "Well, I think it would be great." There was a connection between Mia and Brian and the family literally growing. Is hadn't seen that and I was very proud of that like, "We're going to do this big action movie, but there's going to be babies involved."

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Right.

Derek Lawrence:

I mean, there is definitely a few scenes I wanted to specifically ask about. And you saying that Fast Five was originally going to open with the safe scene makes me immediately go to the opening of this movie, which you kind of talked about it a little bit with the trailer tease of it. That it was such an adrenaline rush, that hijacking scene. You're sitting there in the theater and it felt like a callback a bit to the first movie too. Them hijacking trucks, obviously, they've gone up a level versus the DVD players, but what did you love about just coming out, swinging with something like that?

Justin Lin:

Yeah, exactly. It was a statement, a tonal shift. A tonal shift, but it's also like you said, it's within the spirit of Fast and Furious. And we talked a lot about Dom and Letty stealing gas, but not for monetary gain. And so, it was a thing that I felt like, "Can we design something with character in mind and try to, again, redefine our language and how we're going to share with the audience." I think a lot of times when you do these action scenes, the natural thing is you do cover a lot. And trying to find subjectivity in big action scenes, it takes a lot of planning and conversations.

And there's something that I enjoy in the filmmakers that I loved kind of growing up. So that was the attempt, is that, we could have this big scope action sequence, but ultimately, it's about the connection between Dom and Letty at that moment. I'm a big sports fan, and I could tell you I'm the best basketball player in the world, but you go on the court with me, in five seconds you're going to know very quickly how good I am. And I always think that's our check-in with our characters. All the subtext, it's who they are at that moment, the action should really let us check in on the state of these characters. And so, that was a very conscious effort to say, "Hey, can we almost create a subjective film in this one sequence between these two characters?"

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

And you get a lot of emotion from how much they trust each other still, and everything like that. It sets up a whole lot of indicators for how the rest of the movie goes too, which ends up being about, not specifically, always Dom and Letty, but Brian having to rebuild his trust with Dom and Mia. And this, I think, is the only movie where we really see Dom and Brian kind of go head to head and sort of a fistfight way, not that Brian's fighting Dom back, but did you guys have conversations about that. Was it ever like, how far do we take a scene like this between these two people who are supposed to be the core, moving the action forward in these films? Or is it all about emotion here? How did you guys sort of craft that reunion?

Justin Lin:

It was a very conscious effort. Again, it wasn't about like, "Oh, they're buddy buddies, right away." I remember talking to Paul and his character's lost, I mean, the rooftop chase, that was another one. I think back now, and it's just so funny because the state of Fast is always kind of evolving. I mean, favela chase in Five, it was one of those things where there was no budget for it. And when I was told you can't shoot it because we don't have the money and I just remember going and figuring out that, "How much money do we have?" It was a day and a half's worth. And I looked at my aide. I said, "We're going to shoot this in a day and a half." And he's like, "It's a six-day sequence." I said, "No, we're going to do it."

And if you look at the film, we did it. We actually, literally, used the same real estate, and we just rotated it. It was like all indie tricks, but it was great. Yeah, that was the first two weeks of shoot and it really set a tone for the crew and for the cast that we're going to just do it, it doesn't matter. And obviously, we've earned a lot more real estate now in what we can do. And so, when I remember talking to Paul for the rooftop chase, it was the recklessness, the state of Brian at that point. He was a lost soul, and that's what we were trying to get across, him tackling the guy onto a car without knowing what's in there.

Speaker 7

I don't know shit. I don't know shit, man.

Speaker 9:

Give me the names.

Speaker 8:

David Park. David Park's, the guy you want, please.

Speaker 10:

The planes keep rolling in after your little downtown Olympics, O'Connor. Tell me that reinstating you, wasn't a mistake.

Justin Lin:

It's like all these things were kind of built-in, so when you check in with them, that's where they are and that ultimately, it's going to converge with Dom and it's not a hug, I'm glad to see you. They both have very clear goals, it's going to conflict with each other and then they're going to have to work that out. When you're talking about going back to Paul reading the document before, that was not there because that chase was not there. And I was scouting trying to figure all this out. And so, it was definitely in my head, that's what we were going to do, but that's what I enjoy. And it was just, again, not take anything for granted. We don't take the action for granted.

And it's also become this kind of, part of my process where a lot of times people are like, "Well, it takes a lot of time to design the action. Why don't you start designing the action before there is a script?" I'm like, "Well, I can't really do that because I need to get to know the characters before." So it's always that struggle of making sure that we understand our chapter and where the character is so I can really kind of work on the action.

Derek Lawrence:

I've seen all these movies, double-digit, 20, 30 times, I'll admit it, no lie, but, I still wanted to re-watch all of them ahead of our interviews for these. So I'm rewatching Fast 4, and there's a line of dialogue that now, I literally jumped out of my seat, hearing back now in new context, after what we know is to come with F9 and it's Brian and Dom are about to go off to Mexico to get Braga. And Mia goes up to Dom, and says, "How do you say goodbye to your only brother?" Which again, rewatching this last time I jumped out of my seat and I rewound it. So now we know there's another Toretto brother coming. So what do you have to say for yourself with this line of dialogue in F4?

Justin Lin:

I can say that everything's going to be accounted for. I would say not even F9, but I think in the expansion of kind of how we tell these stories. I'm glad you caught that line and I'm sure you're keeping me accountable, which is great. We're going to earn that line, I promise you.

Derek Lawrence:

Oh, we can't wait.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

I'm excited.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, wrapping up, we want to go into what we're calling the final lap, where we ask some more kind of fun, general questions about the whole franchise. So first off, I don't know, you're the person involved with some of these things. So maybe you don't want to give away your answer, but we've been asking people if they could pick one actor to join the Fast universe, who they would want. So do you have a dream person? Like I said, maybe we put out in the world and that helps make it happen.

Justin Lin:

Oh, bring back the Golden Girls.

Derek Lawrence:

There we go.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Betty White.

Derek Lawrence:

Betty White, that would iconic.

Justin Lin:

That would be true. The remaining Golden Girls, yeah, that'd be awesome.

Derek Lawrence:

Oh my God, that's too good. I was going to ask, you brought up Stasiak, we've been usually doing a Where are they now segment? We talked to Lucas and we were like, "Hey, where's Mia. What do you think she's up to?" But for you, instead of doing that, I actually wanted to be like, what do you have against Shea Whigham? You put this guy, you beat the crap out of him anytime he pops up. So what do you personally have against Shea Whigham? Who, Shea Whigham, we should all say for anybody who doesn't know, he's popped up in every good movie or television show for the last decade. He's maybe the best character actor out there. He's so good and I love that he's in those movies-

Justin Lin:

So good, he's so good.

Derek Lawrence:

But what do you enjoy about just kind of putting him through hell?

Justin Lin:

I mean, maybe that says something about me, that the more I love you, the more I want to hurt you, because not only does he get beat up on screen, he was the creature in the beginning of Star Trek Beyond. He was the little creature, that was him. And I remember he flew into Vancouver and we were shooting, and by the end of the day because they were doing motion capture and everything, it was the most grueling thing I've ever seen an actor go through to try to bring that performance.

What I love about, he's game for anything. And I remember, it was so great, because when he came on set for F9, again, it was just great to see him, but then we had to make sure the nose was right it. And so, we had two-hour conversation about how to design the nose. And so, it was great because I feel like that's part of the legacy of what we create. It goes all the way down to Stasiak's nose, right?

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Yeah, and it's like a fun Easter egg, I think for every time we see him, to see like, "Oh, here's the scars. He's been more beat up and he's still trying to heal." If there's a character, could be a side character, maybe like Stasiak where if you could do a spinoff or something, who would it be? Even if it's just a short, what would they be doing? Do you have thoughts like that about some of the smaller characters, in between movies, or anything like that?

Justin Lin:

It's crazy like it wouldn't be what you expect, even with Vin, it's weird. There was this character, Dwight in four, and he just loves feet. It was crazy. We shot for two hours. I had him sucking toes and MPA was like, "That's not PG 13." I'm like, "You can't suck toes for a PG 13?" I just spent time working with Dwight and his love for toes, and it was just something that we just did. And we can do all this action and gunplay, but you cannot be sucking toes, that's still a no, no.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Oh, my God.

Justin Lin:

But then I would be talking to Vin in Fast 6 and he would bring up Dwight. I'm like, "I'm not even thinking about Dwight. Why are you thinking about Dwight?" We do have love for all these characters. If you asked me, I feel like we could spin off any character to do anything. I can spin off a character, to a YouTube video. So I love it, I love them all.

Derek Lawrence:

Well, as I told Vin, Vin says he listens to anybody. So I requested Eva Mendez as Monica Fontez back before we get to the end. So if you have any ideas for her, get the ball rolling there. We've talked around F9 a little bit, but I will say, when we chatted with Ludicrous, he said he had not seen the film yet, but he said that on two different occasions, you looked him dead in his eye and said that F9 is the best film in the entire franchise, which blew us away because he said, "Justin's not someone to just say something to say something. It's not like promoting a rap album. You just say it's the best because you want it to sell." So, I mean, now, would you like to make that same declaration right now that F9 will be the best of the entire franchise?

Justin Lin:

In my gut, in my mind, yes. Look, it's always hard to compare and because I also have the experience of what happens behind cameras. I sit there, and sometimes you overcome the weirdest things just to be able to ultimately finish that movie that nobody else sees. But I do think that F9 is a culmination of all our work through the years. And I like to think that my next movie is always my best movie, that's why I strive for. But I also think that on so many levels with character, it was great to reconnect with everybody.

Yeah, in my heart, I feel like F9 is the best film. It's part of our evolution but that's until we do Fast 10. But I really do. Again, maybe it's me coming back, having everybody, they just know their characters so well. And being away never felt like I was away. And then to be able to come back, but also to get the butterfly in the stomach, that, to me, is so important, so that it's not like we're doing what is expected. And we might be on the cusp of fiasco, but we're doing something. And to be able to galvanize thousands of people from around the world to bring this to life, there's no joke. And I wouldn't say that Chris is right. But I really truly believe that.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, I mean, you mentioned Fast 10, and we know we're getting two more films, which it seems like, talking to Vin, you guys are kind of looking at as, there's so much to do in one that it's just kind of one over two. Do you still have that one wish you have left that you want to do before you wrap it up? Is there maybe someplace you want to go or some character you want to revisit? Do you have one thing in mind that you're like, "Okay before we end this, I want to do this."

Justin Lin:

Yes, there's more than one and it's funny too, when I go to Vince he has this wall and it has every character in the Fast universe. And it's like one of those like serial killer movies. I feel like there's rings that are all connecting everybody. And I would sit there and I'm like, "Wow, this is really interesting." And so, yeah, like I said, it's weird because I was just hanging out with them last week, and we were just kind of laughing when we're talking about Fast 9, Fast 10, there's some things that we talked about six years ago, eight years ago, and it seems so just out there, and somehow that's found its way back and it's in Fast 9, or it's going to be in Fast 10.

And I think that is something, it's so rare because usually, you do these movies and it's about pressure. Everything's pressure, money pressure, schedule pressure, everything. And to be able to have partners where I don't know what we're doing, we're hanging out, and we're just having a good meal, and we're just talking. And know that somehow it's going to float in the universe and it's going to come back to us.

I think when you're a young filmmaker, you're like, "I got to get this." And there's this need to want to control, but the ultimate control is to be able to let things go and really find it organically. And so, that to me, when you ask these questions, yeah, there's a lot of little things. I think even in nine, there are little things that I've been thinking about and that everyone could miss, but I could sit there and go, "Ah, I'm so glad that it's there." Because I know it's there.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, that's awesome. Well Justin, thank you for joining us and becoming a part of the BINGE family. We really appreciate your taking us deep into Fast 4.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Thank you.

Justin Lin:

Guys, I mean, again, I thank you guys so much for your passion. And it was something that, when I started, none of this was there. So to be able to be sitting here talking to you, and to have this community, I can speak for everybody. It just means everything to us.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, well, thank you for the gift of these films. We appreciate that always.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Yeah, we're excited every time.

Justin Lin:

Thank you.

Speaker 11:

Papa Dwight wants you to take off your shoes. Dwight loves feet. Take of your shoes. So beautiful. Dwight likes his foot.

Derek Lawrence:

Thank you again to Justin Lin, both for joining us and for making our lives so much better with all of these films that he's made. I wouldn't want to live in a world where Fast Five doesn't exist. So props to you, Justin Lin. But as promised, Chanelle and I are now going to hand out some Fast 4 hardware like we do on every episode. Chanelle, what's our first category.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

As always, we got to choose who earned our respect. As Brian says and Fast 1, if I win I take the money and the respect, to some people that's more important. It's more important to us, so we got to figure out who we think earned it the most in Fast 4. I feel like there are a couple of obvious candidates, probably the most obvious is Gal Gadot, but not the only one. So who are you thinking about for this movie, Derek?

Derek Lawrence:

I think it's Gal Gadot with a close second to Dom CSI skills, which I don't know, when he shows up at the crash, he tells Mia to take him to Letty's crash site. And he's just there looking like he should be in CSI, Los Angeles, just incredible, just an incredible rewatch every single time. Somehow he licks the dirt essentially and sees how she died, so that's a close second for me. But no, I think it's Gal Gadot. You mentioned in the interview with Justin, this is her big-screen debut. I think the same year, she also has a small role on Entourage in one episode. But I feel like I've read interviews where she said she was on the verge of quitting acting, she just wasn't really getting these opportunities. And then she gets cast and Fast 4, and it slowly builds, Fast Five, Fast 6. And then-

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Now she's Wonder Woman.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, now she's Wonder Woman, she's in another stratosphere. One of the biggest stars in the world and the seeds were planted here. We're immediately intrigued by her. The minute she's on-screen, you can't look away from her. And then, her back and forth with Vin throughout the movie is so great. And then, obviously, it pivots a bit, moving forward, and then her, and Sung Kang combine to have this incredible chemistry and dynamic with Han and Gisele. So yeah, I think it's Gal Gadot for sure.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Yeah, and it sounds like from talking to Justin and other cast members, that she showed up and enchanted them in the same way. They were all like, "Oh, you know what, there's something really special here." And Fast 4 is the first time that we, as an audience, get to see that, which is pretty cool. So yeah, knocked it out of the park, all the respect for Gal.

Derek Lawrence:

Next up, we've got the, Hey, This Guy is in the Movie. And there's a lot of options again. I think we got Brandon T. Jackson, who's in Tropic Thunder on the same time, we have Laz Alonso who's Mother's Milk, and The Boys now, John Ortiz as Braga. He's popped up a few other times, but John Ortiz is in a lot of great things. He pops up all the time and I'm always happy. But we talked about him with Justin, I think that's got to be Shea Whigham. This guy, IMDb is insane. If you just go through the last few years for him, I mean, he's got Mission Impossible 7 coming up, but he's been in Joker, Vice, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Kong: Skull Island, Star Trek Beyond, Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook. And that's not even mentioning all the TV shows he's been on. The guy's in everything and he shows up and gets his ass kicked every time in Fast and Furious. So you got to respect him, right?

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Yeah, I agree. And I think both to be in the movies, but then also always managed to, in such a short amount of time, have some really memorable, funny moment, that when every time Stasiak shows up, the audience is like, "Oh, it's you again?" And we know something fun is about to happen. I think that's the ultimate for sort of a recurring cameo. It'd be like, "It's you, and we're happy to see you." Awesome, that's the perfect combination.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, absolutely, every single time we're like, "Hey, this guy." So that's literally the title of the award right there. Next up we got, which Oscar should Fast have been nominated for. Maybe some people don't know about this one, we're going the best live-action short film, Los Bandoleros. Are you a true fan if you don't know what that is? Chanelle, tell them what Los Bandoleros is.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

It is the short film that Vin Diesel did that brings in Han and sort of just gives you a little more context for what's going on between what we knew the crew was up to and what happens in Fast 4. It's an amazing little nugget, obviously, of course, there's that prequel before, 2 Fast, but this is on a whole other level, it's got its own narrative and really, really leans in a way that that one does not, that's more of a music video montage, what Brian's doing, but Los Bandoleros really takes it to another level and you have to see it if you have not.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, this is Vin flexing his filmmaker side of things. That's how he started. We talked about in the first episode he did Multi-Facial, this incredible short film that kind of got him noticed, to begin with. And this one, he writes it, he directs it, he stars in it. Like you said Sung Kang's in it, Michelle Rodriguez, it's connecting a lot of dots and it's just a fun watch on its own. Again, I would recommend, if you have not seen this, look it up on YouTube, it's out there. And it's really a great companion piece to Fast 4. So when you're done listening with us, go pull that up, and see the Oscar-nominated short, it should have been.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Right, I feel like it's so unique too, for a franchise to have something like that. And it could have easily gotten recognized for it, I think.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, totally, now we got biggest heat check. What do you think Chanelle?

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

I mean, it's got to be Justin Lin. And now we know in conjunction with that, Justin is sort of Sung Kang at the same time in a car being like, "Does Han have to be dead?" And just flipping it and then convincing Universal that they knew what they were doing by changing the timeline.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah. Heat checks kind of one of my favorite phrases, and I think this is an ultimate heat check. Justin Lin's like, "Okay, I know you had to really convince me to do this movie, but now I'm in, but we're upending the whole timeline of these first three movies that we did." And maybe, possibly, going to confuse people. Luckily, as Justin said, doesn't seem like that was the case. I mean, and it obviously worked out incredibly, and we got another heat check coming with F9 with the revival of Han. So just keeping the heat checks going, we got to love it.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

All right, so the next one, of course, how about the We Hungry Award. I feel like they're less instances of food in Fast 4 but does anyone qualified to you?

Derek Lawrence:

You're totally right. And I wish people could be watching me do this. So if you're listening, but there's a scene where Dom and Brian are at the club, they're both now, drivers for Braga. And they're sitting there with John Ortiz's character who we eventually learned is, in fact, Braga. And they're kind of having a funny back and forth, he's like, "What's the beef here?" And Dom's like, "He used to date my sister." And then Braga's like, "You're lucky you're still alive." And then Vin, "Hold my Corona." He's got it right by his mouth, and he does a little ha, like a little chuckle, a classic Dom-Vin chuckle, and then just drops the beer back. It's iconic, it's a little moment that I love and it's two seconds. You could blink and you miss it.

Braga:

Do you know each other?

Dom:

He used to date my sister.

Braga:

I see, you're lucky, man.

Brian:

How's that?

Braga:

You're still breathing.

Dom:

Ha.

Derek Lawrence:

Yeah, I know it's a beverage, but I don't know, like you said, there's not as much food here, so I think it qualifies.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Yeah, I think it absolutely does. And it's like one of those moments too, that makes you, like they say, "So much of acting is reacting." It's a perfect reaction, the delivery on, it is so great. There's not a real line there, but it's just a moment that's like, yes, it's such a nod to so much that's happened between these two characters already.

Derek Lawrence:

I like to think Vin was just in the mirror practicing that. Just really thinking a lot about it. That was not a mistake the way he drank that beer, but the job rule mistake of the week. I don't know, as we said, there's a few ways we can go with a lot of these awards. What do you think? I think the two are either killing Letty off so quickly or not calling it Fast for Life which I will go to my grave being like, " I'm still mad that Bad Boys for Life was the third movie." What are you guys doing? I could go on a whole rant on that like, "You guys should have had the confidence that you were going to get a fourth movie that you can call it Bad Boys for Life." So I think this should have been fast for life, but I don't know. Is it that, or is it the quick Letty death?

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

It has to be kind of both, because the qualifier, I would say that it's the Letty death, but I think them having it be so vague, initially it happens off-screen. We only see it in Dom sort of CSI, Sherlock moment of what he thinks happened. But by them keeping that so vague, it allows them and six to go back and reshape exactly what happened. So in a way, it ends up being a blessing because it gives them more freedom. But at the time, I was like, "There's so much hype about everybody being back and they just killed my girl, Letty off so quick." It felt like a betrayal, a little too fast then, but I feel like less ire about it now. So I think kind of the thing that still holds out as the title because it continues to confuse people.

Derek Lawrence:

I think that's fair. Okay, lastly, the way we end every show, we all know winning's winning. So who do we think was the ultimate winner of Fast 4?

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

Well, I mean, of course, we already mentioned Gal Gadot, so some love there, but honestly, I think we are going to agree on this one, biggest winner, it's the audience, we got the franchise back. And then we showed up and surprised them like you already said. Justin already said they were not sure exactly what it was going to do. The expectations are really low, but the fandom turned out and now we've got so many more movies because of it. And it's all because we went to the theater to see this one.

Derek Lawrence:

No, you're totally right. Not to award ourselves but we kind of are, it's just Fast Five was no guarantee. Us being here and talking to all these people about these movies ahead of F9, would not have happened without Fast 4. And like we talked about, they didn't think it was going to do what it did, and that's what allowed these movies to keep going. So not to pat ourselves on the back, but I will because we won by getting these characters back, and then we won by making sure we were going to get more of them. So case closed.

I mean, Chanelle and I will accept this award for all of us, and we're going to go celebrate that victory now. So we've reached the finish line of today's episode. Thank you again to Justin. And like Brian O'Connor, we hope we earned your respect and that you keep listening to EW's BINGE of the Fast Saga. When next week we're joined by Mia Toretto herself, Jordana Brewster, to discuss the legendary Fast Five. As Tej would say, "It's going to be an all-timer." So make sure you're there. In the meantime, please subscribe and listen along every week, wherever you get your podcast. Rate us, tell us what you think, share it with your friends and family.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

You can find us on Twitter @derekjlawrence or me @chanelleberlin.

Derek Lawrence:

Also, head to ew.com for complete coverage of the Fast saga and full episode transcripts.

Chanelle Berlin Johnson:

This episode was hosted and produced by Derek Lawrence and Chanelle Berlin Johnson. Produced, edited, and mixed by Samee Junio and executive produced by Carly Usdin and Shana Naomi Krochmal.

Derek Lawrence:

Thanks for listening. And until next time salud, mi podcast familia.

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