Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Helen Mirren, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, and Nathalie Kelley speak frankly about their characters, the series, and the industry
HOW THE FAST FILMS, AND INDUSTRY, CAN BE MORE INCLUSIVE OF WOMEN
Where would you like to see the Fast films go from here? How can they be more inclusive of women?
RODRIGUEZ: First and foremost, bringing some more women on the good team, not just bringing an amazing actress to play the bad guy, and having more female camaraderie, having women do things independently outside of what the boys are doing — that is truly the voice of female independence. Now, having girls run around and do a bunch of really cool stuff, that’s great, it’s wonderful, but we never talk to each other. It’s very rare that they even look at each other. I’ve been making movies with Jordana, who plays the sister of Dom Toretto, for 16 years and I can count on one hand how many lines I’ve had to her. I think that’s pathetic and it’s lack of creativity. Guys don’t know what girls talk about. They think that girls just sit around talking about guys and it’s a sad truth of men being the dominant writers in Hollywood.
You’re going to see a bunch of really bad movies written by men about women and it’s because they realized, finally, that it makes money, so hopefully, it’s a call to arms. It’s a call to arms to the women to step up and step into fields that they never really considered before, like action. What I would do is I would have a guy write the franchise because it’s a very big, highly-paced, action-adventure ride. I would have a guy lay that out, but with intentions of leaving slots for female camaraderie. Then, I’d have a girl come in and write out that dialogue because the guys suck at it. I’ve been rewriting my lines forever. I think the only one I never had to do that with was Jim Cameron and the film Girlfight as well…and Robert [Rodriguez is] really cool; he’s always very collaborative, but you know there aren’t a lot of guys out there who really understand that the female voice is independent.
There’s really nobody training for the women, so they don’t really have examples. Guys are like “Ah, she can’t do that.” How the f— do you know? Have you studied female history? Do you know who’s a scientist? Who’s not a scientist? Do you know that women like taking apart motors sometime? It happens. My assistant used to do it with her dad. She knows motor parts and I had absolutely no clue, but people just don’t know until they put it out there. I feel there’s a dire need for that. That’s what I’m imploring with the studio because these franchise films go to the hardest markets on women. What I mean by hardest markets on women, I’m talking about territories where women, culturally, are treated like trash. I do not feel comfortable not sending an opposing message to that kind of thing. When you are benefiting so much from all this money that’s coming at you, I think you should be sending out some subliminal messaging to balance out that energy between man and woman in these territories, where culturally they’re not evolving out of it.
I think it’s sad, but until you see it on the big screen and it feels real — honestly, that is a powerful thing. I think people really underestimate how powerful Hollywood feature films are to inspire the mind. It inspired me. Look at me. This is my life.
Jordana, what’s your response to Michelle’s thoughts on female camaraderie and how little the two of you have interacted on screen in these films?
BREWSTER: I love Michelle for that. I adore her. I agree with that. Even in the first one, Rob would talk about the fact that we’re close because my brother is everything to me and Letty is one of the most important women in Dom’s life, so there was all this backstory, but we never, ever got to explore it on screen. I agree that that would be great to be able to see and now that I’m a mom of two and she’s this mom by chance, it’d be interesting to explore that. I’d love to see that because it is a shame that we’ve never seen that on screen.
You told Fox News that the door might not be closed on you coming back. Is exploring motherhood with Letty, like you were saying, something that you think could bring you back, or what do you imagine the circumstances could be?
BREWSTER: It’s obviously difficult to reintroduce me, but I’d love to be able to come back. We’ll see if that’s able to happen, but it would be great if it involved Letty and if we could connect somehow or if we could be on the road together for a little bit, because you don’t get to see that either. That would be really cool.
What else would you like to see more of in terms of women in these movies?
BREWSTER: I think the franchise has continued evolving and growing — so far, so good. Equal screen time is always good. That’s something to aim for, but not as far as different storylines.
MIRREN: Just more [women], with bigger, longer scenes, with a more direct, intrinsic story. It’s something that I’ve been battling with my whole life. I did a film called The Long Good Friday where I really fought to get the character into the storyline as opposed to being on the side of the storyline kind of watching it all, occasionally making sympathetic noises. That is what I would ask of feature films in general, let alone Fast and the Furious. I mean, it’s happened enormously. Things have changed so dramatically and drastically in the last 10 years and that change has continued to come. It’s like a dam has broken. People have been banging, the flood has been trying to break the dam for a long time — finally the dam’s cracking — but put them behind the wheel [laughs]. I know they have been behind the wheel, but put them behind the wheel more, including hopefully my character.
The Fast movies have yet to have a female director. Do you think a female director could bring a bit of what you’re talking about?
MIRREN: A female director doesn’t necessarily change things like that. What changes things is the audience, is the audience responding to something and going with it. We all know that the movie industry is a financial industry above all. We make what sells. Yes, of course, a woman director quite possibly could bring her own sensibility to it. What I’m really excited about as much as women directing is seeing women behind the camera in the camera department — cinematography and the sound department — and that change is happening, which is really great. It’s a sort of pronged thing. It’s behind the camera and in the audience.
BREWSTER: That would be really interesting. I worked with Angela Robinson ages ago on D.E.B.S. I don’t know why she popped in my head. I think it would be fun to have a female director. That would shake it up for sure. A female writer would be really cool to bring a different perspective, different flavor to it.”
Where would you like to see the series go next as far as female representation? Is there an area where you think there’s room for improvement?
EMMANUEL: I think we can always improve on these things all the time, but at the end of the day these characters, all of the characters, have evolved and really developed over a number of films. I think giving the women more of a platform to be independent will always be an improvement. I would love it if there was some sort of mission where they could only send the girls in or something, that would be really fun. I think as long as they continue to give women platforms to have their own stories within the movies, the opportunity for them to show their own individuality and agency, and learn more about them and the people they are, as complicated people as we all are, that would be amazing. Also, other than sort of Jordana’s character, these women becoming mothers and that sort of thing that most explore — a lot of women will experience eventually, maybe not everyone. That evolution and how that then changes, and how we would operate within that dynamic of that group.
What steps do you think the industry should take to make a more equal landscape for women, in the genre or more broadly? How can Hollywood as a whole do better?
BREWSTER: I think it’s amazing that more and more actresses are being brave and speaking out. I think it’s great every once and awhile to say no. If something’s not fair, you gotta say no.
EMMANUEL: I guess the first thing would be to write more parts for women because it’s often a very male-dominated genre, so like in any production, even in Fast and the Furious, there’s majority men and a few women, so even just creating a more equal number of roles for men and women within a movie I guess would be a start, or even just creating moments or scenes where women get to show what they’re made of independently of men, but I feel like that happens within these films and has been — especially where Michelle is concerned and Gal is concerned. They have their moments to shine, essentially, and to take initiative. Other ways of improving this sort of thing, I guess, is giving female characters a story that runs alongside other stories, that everyone has their story within it — their journey and you explore that as much as you explore other things.
PATAKY: In conflict and war now, women and men are equal in almost every way, which is amazing…Those [are] amazing, really strong women, as strong men, so we have to start believing in movies that women can be like that and can do every action movie…In the CIA, spies now are amazing women. It’s in reality. I love to see, in a movie, a woman who has power, is strong and intelligent, and can beat any of the men. I think that’s what men have to realize, and I think they are. The beginning was like no, I don’t believe that, but you have to. It’s now real, so give that power, give that opportunity to women to do a lot of action movies. I love it. I love watching it. I love seeing these strong women [playing] these characters, and I think we should give them more and more.