Put on your racing gloves and fasten your seatbelt! We still have a couple years to wait before the ninth film in The Fast and the Furious series is released, but with eight films plus two film shorts, there’s plenty to keep us busy until 2020 when the next movie comes out.
40. Famous Friends
The franchise is the sixth-highest grossing series of all time, and the movies have collectively pulled in over 5 billion dollars. Not bad at all, considering it's behind franchise juggernauts like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Harry Potter series, Star Wars, and The Lord of the Rings. Uh, yeah.
39. Old Enough
As of 2017, The Fast and the Furious franchise is 16 years old: if it were a person, it would be old enough to drive.
38. Out Of Sequence
The eight films in The Fast and the Furious franchise fit together in a way that’s not quite straightforward: Fast & Furious (the fourth film), Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6 were designed as an internal trilogy—these three films are prequels The Fast And the Furious: Tokyo Drift (the third film), while Furious 7 is a direct sequel to the third film.
37. Sprawling Franchise
TFatF has spawned eight films, plus two short films! The shorts were made to tie the timeline together: The Turbo-Charged Prelude comes before 2 Fast 2 Furious, while the short Los Bandoleros takes place between the third and fourth films.
36. Art Reflects Life
In 1998, Ken Li wrote an article in Vibe magazine called “Racer X,” which chronicled illegal drag racers in Queens, New York City. That article was optioned by movie producers, and became the inspiration for The Fast and the Furious film franchise!
35. What’s In A Name?
During production, The Fast and the Furious was known as Redline, which refers to the maximum speed to which a car can accelerate. That name wasn’t terribly catchy, and producers came up with The Fast and the Furious. However, that name was owned by movie director Roger Corman, who had produced a (completely unrelated) film by that name in 1955! Instead of buying the rights to the name, Universal Studios made a trade: TFatF name rights in exchange for some archival stock footage that Universal owned.
34. Trading Rights
Vin Diesel didn’t return for 2 Fast 2 Furious, but he was persuaded to return for a cameo at the end of the third film, Tokyo Drift. He said he’d appear under one condition: that the film studio give him the rights to the Riddick series.
33. The Sincerest Form Of Flattery
TFatF was originally pitched to the studio as “West Side Story but with cars instead of singing.” Director Rob Cohen also admitted to modelling the car chase from the first film’s third act after another classic cinema sequence: the car chase in 1968’s Bullitt.
Cohen cast actor Paul Walker in the films in part because of Walker's resemblance to Bullitt star Steve McQueen.
31. Point Break Connection
TFatF has often been compared to Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 action masterpiece Point Break. There are some concrete similarities: both movies feature scenes shot in Neptune's Net, a restaurant located in Malibu.
Director Rob Cohen visited real illegal street races in preparation for the first film in order to bring authenticity to the screen. He also enlisted over 200 souped-up race cars driven by actual street racers to fill out the racing sequences.
29. On-The-Job Training
Two of the film’s actors, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster, were cast in the movie before they could even legally drive! The two actresses had to get drivers’ licences before filming began.
28. Alternate Reality
Universal was pleased about the success of The Fast and the Furious, but they weren’t sure if the film’s star, Vin Diesel, would return for a sequel. They commissioned two totally different scripts for 2 Fast 2 Furious, one with Vin’s character, Dominc Toretto, and one without. Diesel opted not to return, and instead shot action movie xXx with Rob Cohen. He did return for a cameo in the third movie, and has been back with the franchise ever since.
27. A Relevant Interest
TFatF actor Paul Walker was himself a car enthusiast: the Skyline GT-R featured in 2 Fast 2 Furious was his own car, and he helped “cast” the cars for the film!
26. Reality Drifts
The drift racing in Tokyo Drift was real, and performed by stunt racers! The technique, in which a driver oversteers, resulting in a car gliding across the pavement while also maintaining control, is extremely risky. Dedicated drift racing was popularized in Japan.
25. White Lies
Tokyo Drift was shot on location in Tokyo, which does not grant filming permits. Many scenes of actor Lucas Black wandering amongst the public were filmed surreptitiously, occasionally being shut down by police. Director Justin Lin had the production manager claim that he was the director so that Lin wouldn’t be thrown in jail (which would halt production).
24. Drift King Cameo
Actor Brian Tee plays the “Drift King” in Tokyo Drift, but the real life drift king did appear in the movie. Japanese street racing legend Keiichi Tsuchiya makes a cameo as a fisherman in a blue jacket who mocks another character who is learning how to drift. Tsuchiya also performs many of the stunt drifting sequences. Who better to show them how it’s done?
23. What It Takes
To film the drifting scenes in Tokyo Drift, the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO III and two other cars were converted to rear-wheel drive so they could drift properly. Toyota donated 4,000 tires to the film’s production, though they only went through approximately 2,000.
22. Model Railroad
To film the train sequence in Fast Five, producers bought 600 yards of train tracks in Arizona, plus an entire train to destroy on-camera! This one scene alone cost $25 million to shoot—that was 20 per cent of the film's entire budget!
21. Changing Direction
Director Justin Lin saw the limits of the franchise, and in Fast Five decided to take the films in a different direction. Instead of focusing on street racing and car culture, he changed course and steered in the direction of action, transforming the franchise in to a heist series. This made whole new storylines possible and kept the franchise going!
20. Keeping Secrets
The production crew kept some plot details a secret in Fast Five: Michelle Rodriguez, who played Letty, didn’t know her character survived the fourth film. She found out that Letty was still alive when she saw the twist post-credits ending of Fast Five in theatres!
19. Larger Than Life
The final scenes of Fast & Furious 6 are awe-inspiring. The sequence, in which cars chase a cargo plane as it takes off, is so action-packed that it left writers at Vulture scratching their heads. They calculated how long the runway would have to be to accommodate all that action. Their estimate? 28.829 miles long! In contrast, the longest paved runway in the world is only 3.4 miles. Okay, okay, but unpaved runways? Well, the longest one is only 7.5 miles.
18. Collateral Damage
TFatF films consume more than their fair share of stunt cars. Fast & Furious 6 went through 300 cars during filming, plus two working tanks.
The Fast and the Furious franchise and Herbie Fully-Loaded technically exist in the same cinematic universe. The Disney movie starring Lindsay Lohan features a scene in a junk yard, and eagle-eyed fans spotted a familiar machine: Dominic Toretto’s black muscle car, a 1970 Dodge charger, was trashed during filming and wound up in the Herbie junkyard.
16. Easter Egg
The character Han’s last name isn’t mentioned until it appears on a computer screen in Fast Five. Turns out he’s named after another fast character, the man whose ship (allegedly) made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs! That’s right, TFatF’s Han Seoul-Oh is named after Star Wars pilot Han Solo.
15. Power Wheels
The cars in the franchise are often heavily reinforced with roll bars to keep drivers safe in case of accident. However, during the bridge jump sequence in 2 Fast 2 Furious, a roll bar would have been obviously visible in the car. Rather than put a driver at risk, the stunt crew fitted a dummy into the drivers’ seat and operated the car during the stunt via remote control!
14. Thanks To Facebook…
According to IMDb, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was added to the cast thanks to prodding from fans via social media. Vin Diesel took to Facebook to ask fans for story ideas: they replied with a resounding “We Want The Rock!” Johnson joined the cast in Fast Five, playing the character of Luke Hobbs.
13. The Queen Wants In!
Dame Helen Mirren reportedly has an eye on the franchise. She told Yahoo, “My great ambition is to be in a Fast and Furious movie. I so want to be a mad driver in a Fast and Furious movie.”
12. Ensemble Cast
Lin claims that Robert Altman was his inspiration for the sixth film. Altman’s movies often feature sprawling ensemble casts; Fast & Furious 6 featured 13 main characters!
11. Action-Packed Plot
The script for Fast & Furious 6 was so insanely action-packed, it was initially supposed to be TWO movies. The movies, tentatively titled The Fast and The Furious, were to be shot simultaneously. Eventually the story was cut down into one (albeit still insanely action-packed) movie.
10. Transferrable Skills
Lin gained his experience through directing very different projects: he credits directing three episodes of the TV comedy Community with giving him the skills to manage such a large cast in Fast & Furious 6.
9. Quality Control
Lin, however, did not return to direct Furious 7. The series was so popular that the studio was chomping at the bit: Furious 7 was announced before Fast & Furious 6 was even released. Lin would have had to enter pre-production on Furious 7 while in post-production of Fast & Furious 6, which he felt would compromise the quality. In order to ensure a better film, he passed up the opportunity to direct the next one in the series.
8. First Time’s A Charm
Furious 7 marked James Wan’s ninth time in the director’s chair, but it was his first-ever action movie. Wan made his name directing horror films such as Saw. He must have gained some valuable experience: Furious 7 was a global hit, making over $1 billion and becoming the highest grossing film of the franchise to date.
7. No CGI
One of the most intense scenes in Furious 7 features cars being driven out of a cargo plane, parachuting to safety, and driving off down a remote mountain road. While the films do use CGI to enhance some effects, this one was all analog: the filmmakers really did drop cars out of a plane, and the cars were then filmed by skydivers diving alongside them. Some things you can’t fake!
6. Demo Reel
Tej, the character played by rapper Ludacris, is more technically-minded than fast-fisted. Eventually, Ludacris had enough of watching from the sideline and wanted in on the action, so he trained on his own and made a demo reel to show Vin Diesel and James Wan that he had what it takes to film a fight scene!
5. Continuity Error
Filming out of sequence did cause some problems. In Furious 7, which is supposed to take place immediately after the third film (but was in fact shot nine years later), archival footage is used to tie the films together. When a scene using old footage blends with the new footage shot, actor Lucas Black appears to age almost a decade in a matter of minutes!
4. An Untimely Death
Furious 7 used archival footage from previous films to another end: to give Paul Walker’s character proper send off after the actor tragically passed away before he could complete shooting the film. Stunt doubles, CGI, and strategic use of Walker’s brothers Caleb and Cody were all used to create new moments, and deleted scenes from previous movies were spliced into the film.
3. Destruction of Property
While film props are often sold after production, the film studio destroyed all of the cars from Furious 7 immediately after filming. They did this so that no overzealous fans could purchase the cars and refurbish them in order to recreate dangerous driving scenes.
2. Famous Fan
One of the cars from the first film was bought by a famous fan: Former child star Frankie Muniz purchased the souped-up Volkswagen Jetta driven by character Jesse.
Following the death of Paul Walker, a number of people wanted to interview Vin Diesel about the newest movie, and ultimately, his friend would be brought up. Vin cries in multiple interviews when trying to talk about his death to the public.
Vin Diesel’s last words to his co-star Paul Walker before Paul died in the tragic car accident were actually about death.
“These action films can be very dangerous, no matter what anyone tells you,” Vin told Variety Magazine. “I started to think, ‘What would happen to Paul Walker if I died?’ ”
47-year-old Vin Diesel said he went over to Walker’s trailer after filming an action sequence for Furious 7 and had a heart to heart.
“If I do die, let them know what kind of brother I’ve been to you,” he told Walker days before the tragic accident. “I’ve played that over in my head countless of times. That’s the last time I ever saw him.”