By Derek Lawrence
December 20, 2018 at 12:00 PM EST
Daniel Smith/Universal

There’s a lot of things about Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw that are a long time coming for Jason Statham, whether it’s reuniting with David Leitch, who he came up in the business with, or finally working with his friend Idris Elba, or getting to expand on the glimpses of chemistry previously displayed by him and Dwayne Johnson.

“The whole thing has been such a laugh,” Statham tells EW during a break from filming the upcoming Fast & Furious spin-off. “There’s so many great elements to this that has made it become what it has. The director I’ve known for years from the days that I was trying to get into movies. And Dwayne and I never seem to get up to full speed when we’re doing the Fast movies. We get little tastes of some of the fun that we can generate together. Now we really get to take all the brakes off and go to town with it.”

After their scene-stealing work together in The Fate of the Furious, the chance to see where the dynamic between Statham’s Deckard Shaw and Johnson’s Luke Hobbs could go is exactly what appealed to Leitch, who surely had his pick of projects considering his success with John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and, most recently, Deadpool 2.

“Honestly, coming off Deadpool 2 and carrying the torch on that movie and hopefully expanding it but also giving it my own voice, I was not daunted about entering a franchise,” he admits. “I loved how [Fast] has evolved and pushed the boundaries and found ways to make it fresh and really reinvent itself. I’m especially a fan of these two characters in the franchise in the last few films and how they jumped off the screen as a duo. So when I was approached about directing them in a spin-off, that really excited me, because I could really see a path forward with them as a duo and something that people would really love.”

While Johnson guarantees that Fast fans will love what they’re making, Statham himself couldn’t be having a better time filming back home in the U.K. “We’re having a ball,” he says. “It’s definitely become much funnier than we intended for it to be, I think. It’s just two guys screwing around, making the most of it, and we’re getting some good stuff. But that will be determined by the audience, I’m sure, whether it’s good or bad [laughs]. But we feel like we’re doing something great and we’re enjoying it.”

Universal Pictures

Along for the ride on Hobbs & Shaw with Johnson, Statham, and Leitch is Idris Elba, who will be the latest high-profile actor to play the villain in the Fast franchise, following in the footsteps of Statham and Charlize Theron among others. But for this film, with Statham and Johnson at the forefront, Leitch says finding someone who can face-off against those two was no easy task.

“Let’s say Hobbs and Shaw are teaming up, now you have to find someone who can take that on. So the list is really short,” the filmmaker shares. “You look at Idris as an actor, he’s a powerful, powerful presence, and he can deliver tenfold. Something that we really hope to showcase in this movie is his physical prowess, his fighting prowess, and his car and driving prowess. He’s a badass on all levels and he’s a formidable adversary for these guys. There are very few actors who could pull that off.”

For Statham, he was just glad to finally be able to work with his friend and country mate. “This has been a long time coming; to do something with Idris is tremendous,” he declares. “With what they’ve created with this character, I don’t think anyone else can put the boots on. He’s just so formidable, so talented, and I’ve never seen a villain played to this kind of depth. He’s just so electric in what he’s delivering.”

Adds Leitch of the excitement over Elba’s casting: “I was too when he said yes [laughs]. Like, where do you go? Honestly, where do you go?”

Hobbs & Shaw opens in theaters on Aug. 2.

To read more on 2019’s most anticipated TV shows and movies, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy it here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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Dwayne Johnson's Hobbs and Jason Statham's Shaw get their own "Fast & Furious" spin-off.
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