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Fast & Furious Facts for the Ultimate Fan

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Do you live your life a quarter mile at a time, just like Dom Toretto? In celebration of the 15th anniversary of The Fast and the Furious, the first installment in the franchise, here are some facts about the first six adventures of Dom and his crew.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The Fast and the Furious (2001)

1. THE STORY WAS INSPIRED BY A MAGAZINE ARTICLE.
The May 1998 issue of Vibe magazine featured an article by Ken Li titled “Racer X” that chronicled illegal street racing in Queens, New York. Producers optioned the article for a movie adaptation that became The Fast and the Furious.

2. THE FILM’S TITLE WAS PURCHASED FROM LEGENDARY B-MOVIE DIRECTOR ROGER CORMAN.
Throughout filming, the movie had the working title Redline—which in racing refers to the maximum rate of speed a car can go—before the filmmakers settled on calling it The Fast & The Furious. There was only one problem: That title was owned by B-movie director Roger Corman, who produced a racing movie of the same name in 1955. Instead of having the filmmakers pay for the rights to the name, Corman traded the movie title for some stock footage owned by Universal Studios.

3. THE MOVIE HAS GARNERED SOME FAMILIAR AND UNFAMILIAR COMPARISONS.
The filmmakers of The Fast and the Furious pitched the movie as West Side Story with cars instead of singing, and also incorporated themes and situations found in movies like the surfing action classic Point Break and the undercover crime drama Donnie Brasco.

Director Rob Cohen modeled the film’s third act chases through the Los Angeles hills on similar San Francisco-set scenes in the 1968 car-chase classic Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen. Cohen loved the movie so much that he cast actor Paul Walker because he thought he resembled Bullitt’s lead actor.

FUN FACT: Eagle-eyed fans of this movie and Point Break will notice that Dom and Brian visit a restaurant called Neptune’s Net about midway through the movie. The real-life restaurant, located along Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway, is the same restaurant where Lori Petty’s character, Tyler, works in Point Break.

4. THEY USED REAL STREET RACERS FOR MOST OF THE RACE SCENES.
Cohen (who visited real illegal street races in preparation for directing the movie and who can also be seen in a small cameo as the pizza delivery guy trying to get through the crowd of cars during the first racing scene) enlisted the help of 200 souped-up cars driven by actual illegal street racers for the initial racing scenes.

5. THE REAL ACTORS PUT THE PEDAL TO THE METAL … KIND OF.
In order to have the real actors behind the wheel of cars going upwards of 80 to 100 miles per hour, a special rig was built by second unit director and stunt coordinator Mic Rodgers that the filmmakers dubbed the “Mic Rig.” It consisted of a high-powered truck with a long chassis in the back on which the bodies of the custom cars in the movie could be interchanged. A stunt driver drove the high-speed truck while the actors were behind the wheel of the dummy car in back, which made it look like they were really driving at dangerous speeds.

END CREDIT SEQUENCE: Dom can be seen evading the cops and driving through Baja, Mexico. This footage and the 1970 Chevelle SS he drives will be seen again eight years later in the fourth installment of the franchise, Fast & Furious.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Fast 2 Furious (2003)

THE ACTORS DID THEIR OWN STUNTS … SOMETIMES.
Paul Walker, who returned as the cop-turned-outlaw Brian O’Connor for the sequel and who goes by the street name “Bullitt” after one of the inspirations for the first installment, actually did some of his own car stunts in the movie.

The skid into frame in the Nissan Skyline GT-R following his character’s first race at the beginning of the movie was done by Walker himself, and the high-speed 180-degree turn in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII during the highway chase at the end of the movie was Walker’s work as well.

FUN FACT: In the highway chase after the Ford Mustang gets crushed by the tractor trailer truck, the Chevy Corvette crashing into the wreckage was a mistake and wasn’t supposed to happen, but they kept it in the movie anyway.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift (2006)

IT WAS A BIG-BUDGET STUDIO MOVIE THAT USED SOME INDIE TECHNIQUES TO GET CERTAIN SHOTS.
The movie was shot primarily on location in Tokyo, which doesn’t grant filming permits. So for many shots, including the ones of lead actor Lucas Black wandering around highly populated areas like Shibuya Crossing, the director and a minimal crew just shot Black amongst real pedestrians until the police shut the production down. To make sure Lin wouldn’t get into trouble or thrown in jail and have the production halted, he had the production manager trick the police by telling them that he was the director and not Lin.

THE REAL DRIFT KING MAKES A CAMEO.
Although actor Brian Tee plays D.K. (a.k.a. “Drift King”) in the movie, the real-life drift king, Japanese racing legend Keiichi Tsuchiya, makes a small appearance as the fisherman in the blue jacket who makes fun of Sean as he’s learning to drift near the fish market. Tsuchiya himself performed most of the scenes of Sean learning how to drift.

Fast & Furious (2009)
Fast & Furious (2009)

THEY GOT THE GANG BACK TOGETHER.
2009’s Fast & Furious was the first direct sequel to the events in the first film in the saga. Vin Diesel returned full-time after his cameo in Tokyo Drift, but also picked up the reins as the film’s producer for the first time (he’d go on to produce the subsequent films in the series as well).

It was also the first time in eight years that Diesel, Walker, and Jordana Brewster had appeared on-screen together as their characters since the first film. Though Michelle Rodriguez returned as Letty Ortiz, Diesel is the only original cast member she shares screen time with, because her character (allegedly) dies off-screen after the opening sequence.

WALKER’S CHARACTER WAS GOING TO BE IN A VERY DIFFERENT SITUATION.
The screenwriters originally envisioned Walker’s cop character, last seen letting Diesel’s character escape police at the end of the first movie, as a convict locked up in jail. His introductory foot chase sequence was going to be a jailbreak before subsequent drafts of the screenplay changed him back into a reformed F.B.I. agent as seen in the final film.

THEY HAD OPEN CASTING CALLS FOR CARS.
On top of regular actor casting calls, director Justin Lin, returning from Tokyo Drift, held open casting calls for cars to potentially appear in the film as well. They would post a meet-up place for people to bring their cars and the filmmakers would select drivers and cars for background sequences as needed.

Fast Five (2011)
Fast Five (2011)

THEY SPENT A LOT OF MONEY ON THE SET PIECES.
With Fast Five, director Justin Lin wanted to transition the series into more action-oriented territory, and wanted to outdo anything already seen in the previous movies by planning out set pieces that cost some serious cash. The train-heist sequence alone cost $25 million to create, and involved the production buying out a 600-yard stretch of train tracks in Arizona (standing in for Brazil) as well as an entire train in order to be able to destroy it.

The studio initially told Lin the sequence would cost too much and told him to scrap the idea, but he showed them an entirely pre-visualized sequence using storyboards and computer re-creations for them to put up the money to shoot the sequence.

FUN FACT: Han’s full name is “Han Seoul-Oh,” an obvious nod to the Star Wars character Han Solo. His full name hadn’t been previously mentioned before showing up in the background on Hobbs’ team’s computer screens during Fast Five

BRAZIL IS ACTUALLY PUERTO RICO … AND A COUPLE OF OTHER PLACES
Lin wanted to shoot entirely on location in Rio de Janeiro, but it proved too costly and dangerous. Scenes were shot in Rio (most notably the favela chase sequence), but the majority of the scenes that took place in Brazil in the movie were shot in San Juan, Puerto Rico (the vault heist) and in Atlanta (the street races). These cities were not only cheaper to shoot in, but were better suited for the safety regulations and logistical planning the production warranted for its action scenes.

FUN FACT: The setting of Fast Five is foreshadowed in the beginning of Fast & Furious when Letty tells Dom, “I hear Rio is good this time of year,” while the pair ponder where to escape to next.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE LAST MOVIE IN AN UNOFFICIAL TRILOGY.
Lin, who returned for the last time as director, and screenwriter Chris Morgan envisioned the sixth installment to be the concluding movie in an unofficial story arc that began with the fourth movie, Fast & Furious. Though the series is usually lampooned because of its irregular naming conventions, they wanted to officially call it Furious Six (after Fast & Furious, and Fast Five) for a cohesive series of titles. The idea was nixed by the studio because of marketing concerns that audiences wouldn’t understand what Furious Six meant, so they made the official title Fast & Furious 6. Lin sort of won out in the end though, as the title card on the movie itself only reads Furious 6.

THE FINAL PLANE SEQUENCE WAS ALMOST IN FAST FIVE.
The harrowing sequence was originally supposed to be the ending of Fast Five, and got so far into the production process of that movie that is was storyboarded and pre-visualized before being scrapped for budgetary reasons. The leftover storyboards and pre-viz were simply grafted on to Furious 6 and updated to account for new characters and the new movie’s plot.

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