The “Fast and the Furious” franchise has perfected winning formula over the past 14 years that combines high-octane car chases and action sequences with an emotional core that relies on the family dynamic between its characters. “Furious 7” is no exception, as it puts the pedal to the metal once again while bidding farewell to series star Paul Walker.
In 2013’s “Fast & Furious 6,” Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Walker), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and the crew fought Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) to save the amnesiac Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). Now Owen’s brother Deckard (Jason Statham) is out for revenge.
Revving up for “Furious 7,” which opens today nationwide, Gibson spoke with SPINOFF about his fast-talking character Roman, the addition of Statham to the mix, his action philosophy, and the tragic loss of Walker.
Spinoff: Dominic Toretto and friends have gone through hell, but always managed to come out on top. How does Deckard Shaw put them through their paces in “Furious 7”?
Tyrese Gibson: Jason Statham’s character is relentless. In the history of all the movies he’s done, I don’t think he’s ever had this many people try and kick his ass. Jason has definitely a force and we were just honored he would join us. He is definitely a movie star and we love him. This is my second movie with Jason, and he was committed to jumping on board.
In every “Fast and the Furious” installment, the driving gets faster and the stunts get crazier. What impressed you about the scope of this movie?
My question is always, “What are we going to do now? What is the next level? How do you take the comments and the feedback and the energy from the Internet – and running into fans, and listening to the highlights, disappointments and all the things they love, enjoy and want more of – and figure out an organic way to put it into the next one. That’s what we did. This is the biggest and the best one.
Obviously, with the untimely transition of our family and our brother in Paul, this is the most significant one ever. I often wonder how much more unfortunate would it have been to lose Paul if he wasn’t in the middle of filming the movie that really put him on the map. He really got out there as a bona fide movie star from “The Fast and the Furious.”
What if he was on another set, doing something else and something happened? That would have been crazy. As bad as it is, we try and look for the positive in everything.
His family has been beyond supportive with us closing out this movie, and doing what we have to do to make sure the world knows about this beautiful art that Paul Walker left us with. His brothers Cody and Caleb came to join us. They were physically on set to help us finish it. So, all of us don’t want to do press. None of us want to do media or interviews. It’s really hard for us to not make it feel like we’re making it about us. With this much family, love and support, we were like, “OK, we feel like we’re doing the right thing because we’re doing everything at this point on behalf of Paul.”
In “Fast & Furious 6,” your character got schooled in hand-to-hand combat. There were amazing car sequences involving a tank and a plane. What kind of action can we expect from Roman this time around?
I get in on the action as often as I’m allowed to, but, at the end of the day, I’m not necessarily beating writer Chris Hogan’s door down, or the executives at the studio, and saying, “I want more action or I’m out.” If it makes sense for me to do something, action-wise, I’m just ready to contribute and do my part and help us get to the finish line.
Are there things in this film you haven’t previously done?
Oh, yeah. Here’s the thing. I know how to switch it up. I’m not a robot. I’m not going to do the same shit over and over and over. There are no two situations or scenarios that are ever the same. Switching it up is easy for me. I don’t write songs; I write life. While we’re on set, as much as Chris Morgan and myself swap notes as far as writing and coming up with ideas, there are a lot of funny moments that happen naturally that you could never have written. Ludacris and I just have a ball.
Justin Lin has directed the last few “Fast and the Furious” movies, but took a break from this one. What kind of energy did James Wan bring to the project?
James Wan definitely brought his own spin and creativity to it, all while being very in tune with the sensitivities of each character and their backstories. I don’t know how he did it, but he definitely hit this thing out of the park. I think he’s going to shock a lot of people, knowing he has this background of doing horror movies and now directing this action movie is a big deal.
Do you see this franchise slowing down at all?
No, sir. No, sir.
In several years, will we be discussing “Furious 10”?
At this point, pressure can either bust pipes or make diamonds. Based on the fans, their feedback and the energy — and then continuing to show up to support this movie — we have a job to do. If they want more, we’re going to have to cross that bridge when we get there. Right now, we’re not talking about “Fast” 8, 9 or 10. We’re focusing on “Furious 7.”
Lastly, you’ve expressed an interest in being the next Green Lantern for the movies. What speaks to you about John Stewart?
I’ve already taken the oath. I’m going to be honest and tell you I’m innocent. I was at home when fans created an image of me as John Stewart and sent it to me. Everything just happened afterwards. I was like, “You know what? I’m in. I’m all for it.” I would be honored to take that journey and put the ring on and strap up with that outfit and get it on. I think I have enough box-office receipts under my name to appeal to the local and international fan base. I would love to do it. There’s some communication and talks happening right now in a small capacity. Nothing too aggressive, so we’ll see what happens.
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