Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Chris 'Ludacris" Bridges, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky, Gina Carano
Director: Justin Lin
Genre: Action, Thriller
Synopsis: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the returning cast of all-stars as the global blockbuster franchise built on speed races to its next continent in Fast & Furious 6. Reuniting for their most high-stakes adventure yet, fan favorites Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Chris 'Ludacris" Bridges and Elsa Pataky are joined by badass series newcomers Luke Evans and Gina Carano.
Since Dom (Diesel) and Brian's (Walker) Rio heist toppled a kingpin's empire and left their crew with $100 million, our heroes have scattered across the globe. But their inability to return home and living forever on the lam have left their lives incomplete.
Meanwhile, Hobbs (Johnson) has been tracking an organisation of lethally skilled mercenary drivers across 12 countries, whose mastermind (Evans) is aided by a ruthless second-in-command revealed to be the love Dom thought was dead, Letty (Rodriguez). The only way to stop the criminal outfit is to outmatch them at street level, so Hobbs asks Dom to assemble his elite team in London. Payment? Full pardons for all of them so they can return home and make their families whole again.
Building on the worldwide blockbuster success of Fast Five and taking the action, stunts and narrative to even greater heights, Fast & Furious 6 sees director Justin Lin back behind the camera for the fourth time. He is supported by longtime producers Neal H. Moritz and Vin Diesel, who welcome producer Clayton Townsend back to the series.
Fast & Furious 6
Release Date: June 6th, 2013
All Roads Leads to This… Production Begins
Fast Five's unexpected take on Dom, Brian and their extended family pulling off a daring multimillion dollar heist with a hardnosed federal agent hot on their trail was the ultimate thrill ride for audiences in 2011. The film debuted domestically to $86 million during its opening weekend and set a record best for Universal Pictures. Not only was it the highest-grossing film for that weekend in motion picture history, it bumped the previous entry, Fast & Furious"with its $70.9 million opening in 2009"to the No. 2 spot for April record breakers.
Fast & Furious reinvigorated the series with beloved characters and an engaging storyline that hearkened back to its roots, and the action-thriller built upon that winning formula by injecting new heroes and elements into the storyline. Introducing Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs upped the stakes for our crew of antiheroes and expanding the scope of the film's action proved to be an irresistible combination that electrified audiences, new and old alike. More importantly, the film stoked the flames of anticipation for die-hard fans who have been invested in the saga for more than a decade.
The filmmaking team of director Justin Lin and producers Neal H. Moritz, Vin Diesel and Clayton Townsend build on the worldwide box-office success of Fast Five and take the action, stunts, narrative and emotion to even greater heights with this instalment. The proven blueprint of family, loyalty, fast cars and hard-driving action"whether it's behind the wheel of a souped-up muscle car racing for pink slips or avenging the loss of a loved one"has cemented the franchise as one of the most successful in box-office history.
Justin Lin, an admitted perfectionist, was heartened by the thunderous reaction to Fast Five. 'It was very rewarding to see the way that Fast Five has been embraced," he reflects. 'The great thing about being part of the Fast franchise is that ever since I joined on Tokyo Drift, Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz and I always discussed backstory, character and mythology. In many ways, Fast & Furious 6 was already planned…we just had to earn it. We worked hard to get here; this is something that we built together, and it is not by accident or a fluke."
It's been more than a decade since The Fast and the Furious introduced audiences to Los Angeles' gritty underground street-racing scene, and with each subsequent chapter, the stakes have grown higher with compelling storylines and the introduction of new characters. The film, and ultimately the franchise, has tapped into the global appeal of modern-day heroes who drive fast cars and deliver big action while eluding the authorities and taking care of their loved ones.
In Hollywood, producing a sixth installment in a blockbuster franchise is an enviable (and rare) position. Neal H. Moritz, a veteran producer who, in addition to the Fast & Furious series, has a diverse roster of box-office hits, lauds Justin Lin for his ability to consistently harness story, action and a large ensemble cast with seeming ease. He commends: 'It would have been very difficult to make this movie without Justin Lin. He's got an incredible work ethic and a tremendous amount of patience, which you need with so many moving parts. As the commander in chief, he was able to hold it together, do a tremendous job and deliver the most exciting film to date."
Neither the filmmakers nor Universal executives could quite expect the fans' explosive reaction to the revelation of Letty Ortiz's survival at the end of Fast Five. The surprise one-minute coda between Johnson's Hobbs and Eva Mendes' 2 Fast 2 Furious customs agent Monica Fuentes was enough to get audiences buzzing, but the shocking reveal itself had filmgoers applauding and ready for more.
Letty's apparent death in Fast & Furious was a jolt to audiences. In particular, fans of the fiercely independent Latina were thrilled to have Michelle Rodriguez back in the fourth instalment. Truly, the return of Letty for this chapter was the result of a groundswell that came from audiences themselves. Appealing to the studio and filmmakers to bring their beloved heroine back to the series, loyal fans sent a flurry of correspondence to Universal executives and the producers. The orchestrated campaign by the moviegoers reinforced the filmmakers' belief that there should be authentic, organic interaction with those who have supported the movies over the years.
Although fans were beyond eager for Letty to return, it was quite an unexpected turn of events for Michelle Rodriguez, who originated the role in The Fast and the Furious and returned for Fast & Furious. 'I found out about the tease at the end of Fast Five when I went to see the film," Michelle Rodriguez recalls. 'I was vacationing in Paris and went to see it in a French movie theater, and there it was at the end. I was excited by it all because Fast Five was so amazing, and there was a very real possibility of bringing me back to do Fast & Furious 6. I keep joking with Vin Diesel that he should have given me at least a little bit of a heads-up!"
Only then did a months-earlier, cryptic conversation with Vin Diesel make sense to the actress. However, Vin Diesel was contemplative about revisiting the Dom-Letty storyline, which was years in the making. He provides: 'I knew when I came back as a producer that there was equity in the Dom-Letty relationship. This relationship had spoken to people and was not like one we had seen before, so we had to explore it."
The Fast Five postscript rivaled the response to Vin Diesel's cameo in Tokyo Drift, which jumpstarted the next chapter and, ultimately, the series. Justin Lin's initial meeting with Vin Diesel to pitch that scene morphed into a marathon discussion about the characters, their backstories and potential storylines. Both Justin Lin and Vin Diesel share a passion for character-driven stories, so it was a logical progression for the pair to delve deeper into the franchise's mythology.
Justin Lin shares: 'That idea of mythology got Vin excited. We started discussing how to create mythology and how Han and Dom were linked up and that set everything off. One of the most exciting things was going there and being able to articulate what I wanted to achieve. Vin Diesel and I talk a lot, and it's something that I appreciate. It's a process that we thrive on because we both take a lot of pride in how we build our films. Fast & Furious 6 truly is a completion of everything that we had talked about. It has come full circle."
Vin Diesel, who has long served as one of the series' guardians, concurs: 'The most exciting part of it was that we were going to be able to treat this not only as an action film, but with as much story as we do. It's gratifying to be able to look back and to see how everything links up. When you see Fast & Furious 6, you'll want to go back and re-watch the previous films. When you can answer questions and shed light on scenes in previous movies, when you can promise something in the future…that's cool filmmaking. The best example is when a saga and its audience can play off of one another, and that's exactly what we've done."
Screenwriter Chris Morgan, who has made his mark with action-driven fare, enthusiastically participated in extended dialogue with Vin Diesel and Justin Lin over the past seven years. Beginning with Fast & Furious, they wanted to expand relationships and potential plots to propel the subsequent chapters. Vin Diesel was adamant from the start about maintaining a multi-film arc, so Chris Morgan kept that in mind and has taken a design approach thematically to frame it that way.
Chris Morgan remarks that it is gratifying to see it all bridge together: 'I love constructing intricate narratives and being able to find the places where the pieces fit. The fact that Tokyo Drift doesn't happen chronologically in the film order, but to be able to determine where it goes"and for it all to make sense"is a fun puzzle to put together. The last three films had a very purposeful thematic arc regarding the loss of love and the loss of home...and how far our team would go to get them back. In the fourth film, Dom lost the love of his life and the entire crew was forced to go on the run, abandoning everything they once knew. In the fifth film, our team hit a low point and really felt the absence of both, living as fugitives on the run…until the end when they learn that Letty might still be alive. Now, in the sixth film, we get to see the extent to which our heroes will go to get back everything they lost"specifically Letty"and the ability to return home as free men and women."
Alongside Clayton Townsend, who rejoins the series after serving as an executive producer on Tokyo Drift, the behind-the-scenes crew was ready to roll. Reflects the producer: 'It's a privilege to rejoin the team at this time, as this episode dovetails so beautifully into the rest of the films. We've long explained that the movies were not released in sequential order, but all those pieces will be revealed. It will be quite an experience to sit in theatres on opening day and watch die-hard Fast fans get the surprise of their lives."
Stronger Together: A Family Reunion
From the start, the theme of family has been the backbone to the success of the franchise. Over the course of reassembling this group, the actors have become an extended family of their own. Series godfather Neal Moritz has watched as his core team has grown over the years. 'The Fast family has been together on and off for almost 14 years, so there is history here," he offers. 'We've been making these movies through the birth of children, marriages, and the ups and downs of professional and personal life. Everybody is back because not only did they have a great experience making Fast Five, they loved the movie as much as the audience did. We did something special, and they wanted to see how to grow it with Six. The range of personalities is all over the place, but it works for this collective chemistry on screen. The camaraderie off screen is equally as amazing."
Fast & Furious 6 picks up mere months after the Rio heist, with our crew scattered across the world. Dom and Elena are living in the Canary Islands with new parents Brian and Mia, while new couple Han and Gisele are enjoying Hong Kong. Tej has settled into chilling on the beach in Costa Rica, while fun-loving Roman lives the glamorous jet-setting life. Millions in the bank makes the world much easier for our heroes, but as fugitives they are constantly looking over their shoulders, living in fear of being discovered.
Of the characters' evolution, Justin Lin offers: 'I was excited to explore the idea of -What is true satisfaction?' I wanted to look at the fact that Dom, Brian and all the characters have friends, family and anything that money can buy, but that there are still restrictions that continue to haunt them all…in addition to the fact that they have a single chance to earn total freedom for peace of mind."
It is Luke Hobbs, the tough-as-hell federal agent who relentlessly hunted down our protagonists in Fast Five, who returns and confronts Dom's team with life-changing news. When Hobbs was introduced in the series, he proved a formidable opponent and the perfect foil to ex-con Dom. However, as the story played out and each man took stock of the other, begrudging respect began to be felt by Hobbs"even as he continued his single-minded pursuit of Dom. Ultimately, saving Hobbs from a bullet earned Dom and Brian a swift getaway, with the not-so-subtle warning that he would always be watching.
The filmmakers and Dwayne Johnson knew that placing Dom and Hobbs on the same side this time warranted a careful approach. They all wanted a plausible reason that would up the ante enough so Hobbs would make the offer and Dom would accept. Indeed, it was essential that the film not rely upon a cookie-cutter setup. Any type of partnership between the two men would not be an easy one; their history all but guaranteed it.
Discussing the setup, Dwayne Johnson reflects: 'The key to having Dom and Hobbs work together is that the tension still has to be palpable. They both will get what they want from this bargain they've struck, but there has to be tension that the audience can feel. Then it's authentic and genuine."
So what would be the common denominator that would make unlikely partners of Hobbs and Dom? When Hobbs enlists Dom's team's help to bring down Owen Shaw, a paramilitary-trained criminal mastermind, Dom learns that Shaw has an unexpected second-in-command: Letty. Hobbs knows that Letty is Dom's weak link, and his move is a calculated one. Still, Hobbs is smart enough to know that to catch an elusive villain like Shaw, he needs to operate outside of the law.
This gets us to the heart of the chapter: the reunion of Dom and Letty, and to an equal extent, Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez. The pair became great friends over the course of filming the first chapter of the series, and that relationship has grown throughout the years. Says Vin Diesel: 'There's something special about Dom and Letty that goes beyond my playing the role, or Michelle Rodriguez playing the role. Theirs is a cherished love, and there's strength in that. The fact that it exists on the wrong side of the tracks is what makes it even that much more intriguing."
Another aspect of the love story resonates with Michelle Rodriguez, who admits working with Vin Diesel makes the relationship that much more believable: 'The beauty of this story is a love lost and the desperation of not being able to get that back. I'm a sucker for this type of love story. If I'm ever going to re-create that, Vin Diesel's the guy to do it with. I wouldn't be able to pull that off chemistry-wise with anybody else. Vin Diesel and I definitely do not fall under that category of the typical pretty boy and pretty girl. We're as gritty as it gets. I get along with him so well. It's on-screen chemistry and also a 13-year friendship, and that's something audiences can see."
Ever since he watched The Fast and the Furious, writer/executive producer Chris Morgan has owned his role as one of the franchise's biggest fans. Therefore, as he began fleshing out the plot points for the series' arc, jump-starting the love story was of great importance. Chris Morgan notes: 'There's a scene in this movie where Dom and Letty race against each other. That is one of the most sublime moments in the film, watching Letty fall in love with Dom again as they race. It may sound cheesy, but there's something amazing when he pulls this maneuverer and she looks over at him and thinks, -This guy is crazy, but it all makes sense.'"
Although an intricate story arc was in place for Fast & Furious 6, the idea of bringing Letty back had been bandied among Justin Lin, Chris Morgan and Vin Diesel years before the fan uprising. Chris Morgan explains that Letty had to disappear in Fast & Furious to move the narrative forward…and to up the stakes for Dom and the crew: 'This was the right decision knowing that, down the road, we were going to bring Letty back. If you bring her back immediately afterward it would have felt calculated and contrived. We never wanted to make it easy. Honestly, it is one of the most important things we talked about. That and -What does that mean to Dom?' It's interesting to put Dom in a situation where he's one of us. We've all had that girl who we loved and lost and we wanted to get back."
Michelle Rodriguez admits that early on during filming of the first movie, she worked hard to ensure that the feisty street racer had integrity and wasn't the stereotypical promiscuous girl. It was important to her that Letty hold fast and remain true to her street credibility. When she learned that Letty would return to the fold, it was cathartic for Michelle Rodriguez. The actress shares: 'Letty has all these talents and skills but has no memory of ever using them and the history that comes with it, so there's a beauty about that. That sets the tone for her throughout the film. She's searching for her place in the world through doing what she knows"pulling heists, driving fast and not getting caught."
For Dom, the one person who knows Letty the best and loves her the most, the photo that Hobbs shows him at the beginning of this film rocks his world as he's trying to rebuild his life with Elena. Leaving Letty in the Dominican Republic set everything in motion, and he's carried the burden of guilt for what he believes led to her death.
Determined to find the truth, Dom strikes a deal with Hobbs that gives Dom the chance to redeem himself and bring clarity to the past. Says Vin Diesel: 'When Hobbs delivers the information about Letty, it makes Dom second-guess everything. A large part of this movie was playing a character that had to revaluate what's the truth and what's not. It would be surreal for anybody to go years living your life, doing whatever you had to do to move on, only to be told that your past is not necessarily your past."
Brian and Mia also feel the impact of Letty's reappearance. Mia, lifelong friends with Letty, is hopeful but realistic about the turn of events, while Brian remains sceptical. He is unwilling to let this new development go unresolved, yet is equally reluctant to leave Mia and his newborn son, Jack, behind. He is still racked with guilt over his part in recruiting Letty to infiltrate Braga's organisation, which put her in danger's way. Fatherhood has changed Brian, who was raised by a single mother, and the desire to return home with Mia and Jack is strong. As much as he is compelled to find answers, leveraging a deal out of Hobbs for a full pardon is the only viable option for his family.
Over the course of four Fast films, Paul Walker has seen former cocky undercover cop Brian O'Conner reexamine his moral compass. As he first investigates Dom and falls in love with Mia, then faces disgrace with both the LAPD and FBI and lives as a fugitive, Brian has had one of the biggest character evolutions in the series, going from one side of the law to the other.
Although Paul Walker didn't believe they could top the action from the last film, he was more than impressed with how his director took it to another level. He also appreciated that everyone has his or her moment to shine in Fast & Furious 6. The actor reflects: 'I feel like everybody gets an opportunity to just kick some ass. Everyone's got a little more pop, a little more strut to their step. It's cool seeing that."
After playing this role for more than a decade, Paul Walker feels a responsibility to keep Brian and the series as realistic as possible. 'The one thing I've learned over the years is that our films mean a lot to many people, and sometimes it is hard to be objective when you have so much time and effort invested in it," he says. 'The most important thing is that we keep our characters and their stories based in reality. Obviously, there are times where you have to concede the point because the goal is to make films that are dynamic. Our films work because there is that delicate balance between the two."
No one understands that balance better than Mia Toretto, portrayed once again by Jordana Brewster. 'You're stronger together," Mia Toretto states to Dom and Brian as they try to comprehend the revelation that Letty is alive and discuss their plan of action. Neither man can deny it: They've had each other's back since they first met as the undercover cop looking to nab the ex-con and his crew.
The unyielding resolve that Mia Toretto exhibited in Fast Five has now been reinforced by motherhood, and she is committed to keeping her family stronger and safer than ever. She is a Mia Toretto through and through and understands that loyalty binds her family. Jordana Brewster, who first tackled the role 12 years ago, explains: 'Mia's a mom now. She needs to protect her baby, but she also knows Dom and Brian well enough to not hold them back"especially when it's as important as bringing a loved one back. She's smart enough to see they will take care of each other. They've become brothers."
Jordana Brewster, eager to return for her fourth turn as Mia, simultaneously shot Fast & Furious 6 in London while filming her television series Dallas in Texas. It was a scheduling challenge, but one that Jordana Brewster made work so she could revisit the character she admired, while also enjoying her extended Fast family on location.
One aspect of filming that Jordana Brewster was keen to repeat was to participate more in the film's action sequences. Fortunately, this chapter gives her the chance to be behind the wheel again…as an integral part of the final action sequence. Fast Five was her first real introduction to immersing herself in mind-blowing stunt sequences, and she was ready for more. 'I love getting a little taste of the action again," she laughs. 'I have a scene with KIM KOLD, who is massive. He dwarfs Dwayne Johnston and Vin Diesel; it's crazy how big he is. But he did complain that I dented his boot and bruised his shin. I was proud."
Chris 'Ludacris" Bridges was looking forward to returning to his role as the tech-savvy Tej Parker. As much as Chris Bridges loved the thrill ride that Fast Five offered, he was ready to outdo it. He was also happy to see that his character, the auto mechanic with a penchant for illegal street racing, was still doing what he loved, despite the millions he now has in the bank. 'Money doesn't change Tej," states the actor/hip-hip artist. 'Whereas most people get money and want to quit their jobs, he's just one of those guys who still wants to do a job that he loves. Of course, whenever you get $10 million your life is going to change. For Tej, he's still buying exotic cars and tinkering around with computers, but he's also having fun on the beach."
Tyrese Gibson's Roman Pearce continues to be the comedic voice in this world, as well as prove that the series can work both as a global action tentpole and give a lot of opportunity for comedy. From the moment he appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious as Brian's fast-talking, petty-thieving childhood friend, the die has been cast with both the actor and the audience. Roman Pearce has no qualms in bucking authority and speaking his mind, and Tyrese Gibson is more than happy to see that his character hasn't mellowed. He says: 'That's Roman's personality. He's the guy who doesn't take life too seriously and has a problem with authority"even with $10 million in the bank. I'm just glad that he remains the same in that respect, because I feel like Roman is the voice of the people. That's what I love about the character: he always has something to say."
Sung Kang joined the series midstream, debuting in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift as Han, the cool cat (with equally smooth driving skills) who ran Tokyo's illegal street-racing scene. With subsequent appearances in Fast & Furious, Fast Five and now Fast & Furious 6, Han would become the thread that ties the franchise timeline together. The challenge for Sung Kang, not to mention Chris Morgan and Justin Lin, was how to craft a credible backward arc for Han, who is ostensibly introduced in a latter chapter of the series. Reflects Kang: 'In Tokyo Drift, a lot of the life lessons that Han gave the other characters, I had to manufacture them and ask myself, -Why does Han live by this certain code?' So over these last four films, it's been nice to mentally move forward within the script and see the life lessons that Han has learned from Dom and the family…and to put the pieces together of why Han is the way he is in the third film."
This chapter finds that the mutual admiration between Han and Gisele, established in Fast Five, has grown into a full-blown romance. Gal Gadot was first introduced to audiences in Fast & Furious as a top lieutenant in Braga's (played once again in this film by John Ortiz) organisation who aligns with Dom when Braga forsakes her to save himself. Dom saved her life, and that act gained him her loyalty when Gisele joined up with the crew in Fast Five to pull off the heist.
The then-unknown Israeli actress has been enjoying the ride, especially in this film, which has enabled her to tap into her tough side. 'I'm so happy about all of the action in Fast & Furious 6 since in the previous two, I didn't get to do as much," offers Gal Gadot. 'I've long told Justin Lin, -I want Gisele to be more of a badass. Whatever you throw at me I will do. I want to do it all.' I remember my first conversation with Justin Lin for this film, and he asked, -Are you up for it? You're going to have a lot of action in this one.' I was so glad. Finally!"
Gal Gadot did not disappoint with her commitment to doing many of her own killer stunts, not to mention riding a Ducati Monster motorcycle like a pro. Despite just having had a baby, the performer spent several days suspended in a harness doing the bulk of the wire work for the Russian Antonov 124 plane scene in which our heroes are trying to bring down a cargo aircraft that's been commandeered by Owen Shaw's crew. In the film's final sequence, Gal Gadot fires off weapons and weaves through detonating squibs during a firefight with Owen Shaw's team.
In Fast Five, Spanish actress Elsa Pataky joined the franchise as Elena Neves, the Rio cop who fell for Dom. The pair connected over a shared loss of their loved ones, and their similar circumstances and respect for each other sparked a romance. The information that Letty is still alive threatens to tear apart Dom's relationship with Elena, who has given up everything-her law enforcement career, home and country"to go on the lam with him. They have created a life together and a trusted family unit with Brian and Mia.
When it came to Letty's re-emergence, Elsa Pataky admits to initially having a difficult time on how to tackle this plot reveal. Now, she better understands the impact of Letty's return on Dom and Elena's relationship. 'Elena is strong but it's difficult for her to let Dom go, even though her first inclination is to fight for him," says Elsa Pataky. 'She knows it's the right thing to do and if she was in the same situation, she would have handled it the same way. Elena would rather Dom stay with her, but as long as there is any possibility Letty is alive, Elena knows that she has to be brave and let Dom figure it out."
Bad Boys and Badder Girls: Series Newcomers
No matter how welcoming everyone is on a film set, joining such a tight-knit community of cast and crew can be a daunting experience. Just as Hobbs gets a new second-in-command, Dom has a fresh adversary in Fast & Furious 6: Owen Shaw. Looking to shake things up once again, Justin Lin wanted to delve into new challenges to push Dom and the team into an arena where the stakes are exponentially higher. Along with Chris Morgan and Vin Diesel, Justin Lin kept returning to the themes of family and loyalty that Dom holds so dear. It's here that they decided to introduce an adversary whose philosophy was diametrically opposed to our heroes'.
As brilliant as he is lethal, Owen Shaw is a former soldier of the British Special Air Services (SAS), the elite special forces unit of the British army. Eschewing his noble past, Owen Shaw has assembled a team of highly skilled mercenaries who are behind a string of high-profile robberies of new technology that could fetch billions on the black market. Indeed, he's the baddest of the bad.
Justin Lin describes how Owen Shaw fits into this endgame: 'One of my big reasons to come back and do another one was to truly have an antagonist that's worthy of Dominic Toretto. With Fast & Furious 6, I wanted to take a different tack and create an antagonist that had the opposite philosophy to Dom. Dom often goes with trusting his gut, whereas Owen Shaw is more about the analytics where there is no room for weakness. Being able to truly develop that aspect of the -team versus team' idea was worth coming back for."
When he meets Owen Shaw, Dom quickly realises that he is a cunning machine of efficiency and has a lock on what makes him tick. Owen Shaw states unequivocally that Dom's notion of family is his weakness and will be his downfall, especially when he exploits it to get what he wants. It's a powerful ploy said with confidence when standing inches from the burly Dom. The meeting provides Dom with the knowledge of who he is dealing with and what his team is up against.
Played with a polished steely veneer by Welsh actor Luke Evans, Owen Shaw joins this instalment as a villain unlike any other that Dom, Brian and the team have ever encountered. Luke Evans' introduction proved to be a double-edged sword. Although it was good for the character's sake, Evans did not have an opportunity to formally meet most principal cast members prior to his first day of filming. Luke Evans' first scene of the day was a tense confrontation that had the whole team staring down a handcuffed Shaw who, despite being in the weaker position, oozes ruthless confidence. As an actor, this was an optimal situation that could wholly inform the scene, but as the new guy on set, it was a bit disconcerting.
Luke Evans, an established stage actor on London's West End, is a relative newcomer to feature films and has over the last several years appeared in a number of high-profile films, including Peter Jackson's The Hobbit series. He was filming on location in New Zealand when he got the call from Justin Lin to discuss joining the ensemble cast.
For Luke Evans, it was a no-brainer. He was a big fan of the franchise and relished the opportunity to play a good guy gone bad who has made an enemy of Hobbs and will go head-to-head with Dom. Says the actor: 'There's never been an archetypal villain like Shaw in the Fast series. He's incredibly threatening to Dom and the family that audiences have grown up with over the years, and that's exciting to play. You know you've got something great with the script, and then Justin Lin decides to crank it up one more speed and add another dimension. It's exciting to be a part of this evolution."
Under Justin Lin's direction, the franchise has continued to eclipse its predecessors. The cast believes it's due to Justin Lin's attention to detail when it comes to character development and executing complicated stunt sequences. Luke Evans embraced his director's focus on the nuances, delving into the narrative and character motivations. He says: 'On a daily basis, Justin Lin and I spoke about Shaw. Sometimes, just small physical moments and certain looks, but also what's going on in the back of his mind, which Justin Lin is very good about reminding you. That's why he's fantastic, because he's able to deal with these humongous stunt sequences but he's also thinking about what's going on in a character's head. He puts it all on a plate, and all you have to do is eat it up."
Shaw's team proves to be the evil doppelgangers to Hobbs, Dom and Brian's crew. They are so evenly matched in technical know-how, close combat, weapons and driving skills, that it's a fight to the finish when they square off. Shaw always seems to be a step ahead of Hobbs and Dom and keeps them confounded. This matchup became an aspect of the plot that Neal Moritz felt was essential to raise the stakes. 'It's not just a clean win for our guys," states the producer. 'There are a number of times when Shaw's guys get the best of the team and leave them bewildered. Shaw outsmarts them at every turn, and they have to work for it as it becomes much more of a cat-and-mouse game."
Completing Shaw's group of elite racers, in addition to Michelle Rodriguez's Letty, is a diverse international cast of actors. They include Indonesian martial-arts phenom Joe Taslim as Jah; Danish actors Kim Kold as the 6'4", 310 lb. Klaus and Thure Lindhardt as Firuz; African actor Samuel Stewart as Denlinger; and British performers Clara Paget, Benjamin Davies, Matthew Stirling and David Ajala as, respectively, Vegh, Adolfson, Oakes and Ivory.
For a film whose roots are so firmly entrenched in illegal street racing, the filmmakers knew that a full-scale, whiplash-inducing racing scene needed to be included in one of the four set pieces they envisioned for the film. That scene, scripted as the 'team vs. team" sequence, would be our introduction to Shaw and his crew, with their deadly toys and deadlier driving. An explosion kicks the sequence into high gear as Dom and the team"in freshly government-issued high-performance BMW M5s"try to intercept and capture their nemeses. Precision driving, firefights and the introduction of the FLIP CAR make the team realise that the job won't be so easy after all.
Chris Bridges sums up the deadly rivalry best: 'This is definitely one of the times that the team realises they have met their match, which is why this movie is probably going to be just as good, or dare I say even better than Fast Five."
For mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano, the role of Riley, Hobbs' disciplined second-in-command, is a perfect synergy of her skill set, one she honed during her breakthrough film, Steven Soderbergh's Haywire. Notes Gina Carano: 'Riley is very quiet yet mighty and strong, and that's a good role for me to take on in my second film. It's been fun because she gets to sit back and observe what is going on, but at the same time there's power in being quiet and in the background. Those are always the people I'm looking at, so it was cool to play that type of character."
Gina Carano admits that working so closely with Dwayne Johnson was inspiring. His transition from professional wrestler to actor is an accomplishment she respects and with which she identifies. Dwayne Johnson is equally enthusiastic of his co-star, commending: 'Gina Carano is everything that Riley is. Not only is she beautiful, but she can kick ass. She brings an authenticity to that role that is hard to find in Hollywood." With his infamous grin, Dwayne Johnson adds: 'You know what else she brings to the table? She's been in the octagon and had these amazing fights in women's MMA."
Luke Evans, Gina Carano and the rest of the new cast were welcomed with open arms and made to feel like part of the family. Based upon the sheer quantity of hilarious videos, behind-the-scenes photos and running commentary the cast shared online with fans over the four-month shoot abroad, an off-screen bond occurred among the returning actors and new members. Excited fans around the world were able to get a unique and unfiltered look at the group as they laughed their way through frosty night shoots or relaxed (read: nursed bruises) at the communal lounge area outside of their trailers.
It's Your Move: Stunts of the Film
With Fast & Furious 6, the filmmakers opted to broaden the action base by bringing in more physical fight sequences to balance out the remarkable set pieces already in place. One of the keys to Justin Lin's proven method of success is to utilise as much practical stunt work as possible, so this tactic dovetailed perfectly.
This approach, however, puts an enormous amount of pressure on the stunts and special effects department to conceive and execute high-impact, innovative driving, pyrotechnic and fighting sequences, but they continue to deliver. 'Go big or go home," became Justin Lin's comical reply during the early stages of preproduction as the sequences were fleshed out during departmental meetings.
Supervising stunt coordinator Greg Powell, a London-based stunt veteran, hails from one of the country's premier stunt dynasties started by his father (Nosher) and uncle (Dinny) and continuing with himself, his brother (Gary) and his daughter (Tilly). Greg Powell was brought in to visualise the ambitious undertaking that Chris Morgan and Justin Lin had devised.
From the get-go, Greg Powell knew that he would spearhead a multifaceted action film that would need to satisfy the 'push all limits" credo of the franchise"fast, hard-hitting driving action mixed with inventive physical manoeuvres and attention-grabbing set pieces. To accomplish, the stunt coordinator brought in fight choreographer Oliver Schneider and his team with the express goal of surpassing the epic Hobbs-Dom clash in Fast Five. However, in this chapter, the fight team would need to choreograph an astounding 16 matchups, with almost every cast member getting a piece of the action. Greg Powell and Oliver Schneider had previously teamed up for the action-thriller Safe House and developed a collaborative style that allowed them a smooth process when designing the multifaceted stunt work.
The French-born Oliver Schneider learned quickly that he and Justin Lin were kindred spirits in moving the story along. When the pair first met, they agreed that the tone of each fight should be precise with a purpose for every move. Reflects Justin Lin: 'The Dom-Hobbs fight in Fast Five is something that we'll never duplicate. I felt this time we could actually top ourselves by having the other characters have their moments. Through that, you see a lot of different fighting styles, all designed very specifically."
Since the cast were all quite fit and prepared to train hard to pull off anything the team proposed, Oliver Schneider was able to up the skill level and work more on the cast's choreography. Dwayne Johnson, coming off of Pain & Gain, had arrived in London with an extra 10 lb. of muscle packed onto his already brawny 260 lb., 6'2" frame. He would continue his gruelling early morning workouts on a daily basis. Millions of his loyal Twitter followers were privy to it all"from gallons of oatmeal and protein binges to his legendary 3:00 a.m. workout routine before heading off to an early morning arrival on the film set.
Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris Bridges and Tyrese Gibson all had begun their own personal fitness programs months before filming and continued though production, while MMA warrior Gina Carano maintained her usual regimen and concentrated on the choreography. Luke Evans, welcoming the physical challenge, embarked on SAS-style training so he could fully represent the consummate warrior of his Shaw. The practice sessions were often punishing, but the outcome was worth it.
Prior to conceptualising any fights, Oliver Schneider scouted the shooting locations and spoke with the art department and set decorators to get specs on the film sets. This allowed him to incorporate those practical elements into the action. A railing in an underground tube station could enhance an acrobatic kick, or an exposed cargo strap on the Antonov set could leverage a hit to an opponent"anything environmental would play a part to heighten the action. Prior to filming, he made sure to bring the actors to the actual locations so they too were familiar with their surroundings. As rehearsals continued with the cast, the fights were further fine-tuned.
Key to Oliver Schneider's approach was to have a definitive style for each character. Truly, with so many battles, different moves were utilised for particular fights and never duplicated. Dwayne Johnson, Gina Carano and Indonesian martial arts star Joe Taslim are all skilled athletes, and audiences have high expectations of what these performers can do. Therefore, Oliver Schneider wanted to mix it up a bit and inject more character into their fight styles.
Dwayne Johnson has clocked in his fair share of fights and stunt work in the WWE and films like Fast Five and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Of his experience with the stunt crew, he commends: 'Olivier Schneider and his team are focused. I always appreciate it when fight choreographers do their homework and get to know my style. I love working outside of the box and learning new fighting techniques and styles, but at the same time it will always come back to the essence of how I fight." He deadpans: 'I'll rip your head off. Olivier Schneider made sure that core element that drives my style is always there, but at the same time was smart enough and challenged enough to add a few more things in it for me."
For their parts, Hobbs, Riley and Shaw are more disciplined in the schools of military law enforcement. Therefore, Oliver Schneider incorporated Krav Maga, Wing Chun kung fu and Kali Eskrima techniques into the fight scenes. On the flip side, Dom, Brian, Letty, Roman and Han are street fighters through and through; they rely on instincts much more than formal training.
When it came to conceptualising the sequences, the soft-spoken Gina arano, known for her powerful right punch and insane roundhouse kick, was eager to add to her fighting repertoire. She offers: 'I had done different types of fight training before Fast & Furious 6. Olivier Schneider was familiar with my background and what I'd done on Haywire, so he wanted to give a different look in this film. Riley is a formally trained soldier, which was a nice change of pace. She goes into any given situation in a position of power, instead of being on the receiving end."
Oliver Schneider was in awe of Joe Taslim's skill set, even after seeing his gravity-defying performance in The Raid: Redemption. 'If you have seen The Raid, you can fully understand Joe Tasmlim's abilities," says the fight choreographer. 'He is one of those guys with the fastest hands I have ever seen. I often videotape fight rehearsals, but I was too slow and couldn't follow him because he's very, very fast. He learns quickly, so you can ask him whatever you want and he will deliver."
The first of the two breathless Letty-Riley bouts in the movie was filmed in one day at Aldwych Station, a now-defunct underground train station in the Westminster section of London. The lack of working elevators left the cast and crew no option but to carry hundreds of pounds of equipment down 100 narrow steps to get to the lower level, where the filming of the down-and-dirty fight would take place. Remarks Neal Moritz: 'One of the trademarks of our franchise is to do as much real action as possible and to rely on visual effects as little as possible. The subway fight between Letty and Riley, which is so visceral and in your face, is 100-percent practical fighting. There are no visual effects. It's just really intense."
Recalls Justin Lin of that filming day: 'For Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez to show up and tell their stunt doubles to take the day off because they're going to try to do everything themselves, is a testament to how hard they work. That makes all of this worth it."
Regardless of what was asked of them, the cast was willing to give anything a try. Eager to top what they accomplished on Fast Five or just happy to deliver practically executed stunts, the gang was open to any proposition. Particularly Michelle Rodriguez, who stands out to both Greg Powell and Oliver Schneider for her fearlessness. Greg Powell commends: 'Michelle Rodriguez is Michelle Rodriguez. She does anything that you want her to do. From wherever it comes, it's all guts there. Michelle Rodriguez doesn't lack any of that."
Initially, Michelle Rodriguez was a bit concerned about how the Letty-Riley fight scenes would translate on screen. Although the Girlfight star fully understood that Gina Carano's skill set and level of athleticism was stronger than her own, she still wanted to make certain that the sequences made sense for her character. After weeks of training with Oliver Schneider and learning the intricate choreography, she grew more and more confident with how the fights would play out.
Also important to how Michelle Rodriguez approached those scenes was being certain about what was driving Letty. Whereas Riley has more of a methodical, paramilitary-trained approach, Letty's a scrapper. She's long fought for her life, and her style taps into the streets she grew up on in L.A. By creating a dynamic in which Letty was all about survival and Riley was all about technique, the audience can feel this primal struggle.
Gina Carano, whose MMA experience enabled her to inflict some real physical damage in the octagon, had to make a concerted effort to redirect her physicality to perform for the camera, while simultaneously being hyperconscious not to injure her co-stars. Once she was more familiar with the choreography, Michelle Rodriguez, however, had other plans in store for her co-star and encouraged Gina Carano to go full-out on those takes.
When shooting the fighting action, Justin Lin favours wider shots. This allows him to be very strategic when he cuts to tighter perspectives that give the audience the full impact of the brutal scene. Taking that into account, Oliver Schneider worked closely with cinematographer Stephen Windon while designing each fight scene. With up to four cameras filming at any given time, timing, positioning and a 360-degree lighting system were all an integral part of delivering up-close heart-pounding action.
The Underground train station at Waterloo set the stage for another standout fight sequence. Joe Taslim squares off against Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang in a scene that begins with a foot chase, which had all three actors sprinting through and around 200 background actors. It culminates with a martial-arts bonanza that showcases Joe Taslim's amazing abilities. Naturally, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang and Joe Taslim had rehearsed the scene, but filming before the cameras, crew and background actors added another layer of energy to the day's work. Although stunt doubles were on hand throughout rehearsals and on the shoot days, both Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang opted to do their own fight work against Joe Taslim.
Justin Lin explains their choices: 'It's energy like that that carries us through a shoot of this length and of this magnitude. Joe Taslim is unbelievable. He was going 110 percent all the time, and you see that intensity on screen. You see it because I was able to shoot it the way I wanted to. I didn't have to hide his face or Tyrese Gibson's and Sung Kang's because they were doing everything themselves."
Tyrese Gibson adds: 'I felt really good about that scene. I love that Justin Lin gave me an opportunity to demonstrate that Roman can get in there and get busy, too. Of course, it's Roman, so we figured out the sweet spot and made sure the audience is having fun…even at the height of some dramatic moments."
Vehicular Warfare: Muscle Meets Sophistication
Although Fast Five embraced the elements of a heist-driven plot, the cars remained at the forefront of the full-throttle driving that fans have come to expect from the franchise. The testosterone-fueled Dodge Chargers hauling a vault through the streets of Rio were emblazoned in movie memory and set the bar extraordinarily high for action in Fast & Furious 6.
Independent of its European setting, the filmmakers would not consider making another Fast film without incorporating American muscle cars in the film's fleet. Classics including a 1969 Dodge Daytona (Dom), 1971 Mark-1 Ford Escort (Brian) and a 1969 Ford Anvil Mustang (Roman) would end up sharing the road with sexy European models like the 1970 Jensen Interceptor (Letty), 2012 Aston Martin DB9 (Shaw) and a 2012 Lucra LC470 (Tej) based on the stunning 1960s Lister Jaguar race car.
Also joining the frenetic fray is the 2012 Alfa Romeo Giulietta (Brian), the sultry Italian replica 2002 Enzo Ferrari (Tej) and a powerful arsenal of military vehicles (Hobbs' Navistar MXT and a modified 10-ton Chieftain Tank based on the World War I-era 42-ton version) as the chase kicks into high gear throughout Europe.
Motorcycles also return to get a piece of the action. A Harley-Davidson (Han), a Ducati Monster (Gisele) and a KTM 690 Duke burn some rubber on the streets of London and Tenerife.
Dom's 2010 Dodge Challenger, Brian's 2010 Nissan GT-R and the stalwart vault-hauling 2012 Dodge Charger return to the fold, along with other contemporary street racers like the Subaru BRZ, 2008 BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon and 2012 (as well as the classic) Range Rover, among others.
Picture car coordinator Dennis McCarthy (Fast Five, Fast & Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) is a frequent Justin Lin collaborator, now on his fourth tour of duty with the franchise, and oversees all aspects of the film's fleet of cars. He is an admitted muscle-car fan who is in auto heaven when culling the short list of cars for films.
Justin Lin and Dennis McCarthy's desire to keep all car selections organic to the story and incorporate as many classic cars as possible into the film's mix of vehicles became easier with Chris Morgan's technocentric plot points. One of Shaw's gadgets can cripple any new model car by disabling its embedded computer chip, the brains of any modern-day racer. In fact, one of the more sweat-inducing action sequences has Dom's team discovering firsthand how the device works. Dom and the crew take the offensive"not to mention the millions of dollars at their disposal"and procure stunning old-school rides, thus maintaining the tradition of including American heavy metal in every film.
Among those American classics, the 1969 Dodge Daytona Charger was the standout. The Daytona, a prime example of American heavy-metal craftsmanship, was a car that Dennis McCarthy had been trying to slide into the franchise since he began work on Tokyo Drift. A fan of the Dodge as well, Justin Lin understood Dennis McCarthy's desire to utilise the car, and the director finally found a scenario that worked the car into the film. Recalls Justin Lin: 'I felt that it was time to look at the Daytona for Dom, but it wasn't until we went on a location scout in Europe that it hit me. To see the ultimate symbol of an American muscle car racing through the streets of London would be unbelievable. This had to be Dom's car."
Vin Diesel, too, was excited about the prospect of Dom driving the Daytona, which added pressure to Dennis McCarthy to deliver the car everyone expected. Says Dennis McCarthy: 'Over the years, one of the toughest things about selecting a car for Dom is that I have to top it with something cooler in the next film. There's nothing that says -Dom' more than this car; it's the real deal. If you want a muscle car that's going to compete with exotic European cars at high speeds, this is the right choice."
Vin Diesel was over the moon to have the 1969 Daytona cast in the film. He was familiar with the history of the winged aerodynamic beauty, whose record high speeds got it banned from the NASCAR racetrack in late 1970. The performer says: 'I was ecstatic because the Daytona is so unique and there is such a history. In the same way that Dom went ballistic on somebody at the track and was banned, so was this Daytona. That's what's great about Dennis McCarthy. He's always thinking about Dom's character, the car, their identities and how they're similar."
Thoughtfulness aside, Dennis McCarthy and his department actually had to build their Daytonas. The cost was prohibitive to buy nine of the classic cars, which is what the two film units would need for filming. Purchasing a single pristine 1969 Daytona could easily cost upwards of $500,000, so the team began their own assembly line, which gave the filmmakers the freedom to customise each car to a specific task. The goal was to re-create the styling of this model Daytona but have the performance, power, reliability and drivability of a 2012 Charger or Challenger under the hood. Fiberglass molds for the rear wing and the nose of the Aerocar were fabricated, and a new SRT8 motor out of a 2012 Challenger with a six-speed transmission was added.
The majority of the Fast & Furious 6 cars were built in Dennis McCarthy's Los Angeles-based shop and then shipped across the U.S. before making the trans-Atlantic trek by ship to the U.K. Often, the logistics of completing the work on the vehicles and the shipping times could be a nail-biter for both Dennis McCarthy and the filmmakers, as the production was on a tight deadline to start filming with both units in separate locations. There were a couple of close calls but, all in all, Dennis McCarthy's babies made it across the pond.
'The logistics of what Dennis McCarthy and his team were able to accomplish were absolutely astonishing," says producer Townsend. 'Not only was this team able to modify these vehicles, they were laser-focused with the production and shipping schedules. To the audience, the way that Dom, Brian and the gang acquire these amazing vehicles looks seamless and extremely quick. That's 100 percent due to the outstanding gearheads we have on both sides of the camera."
Each chapter of the Fast films has a standout automobile that resonates with audiences across the globe. In Fast & Furious 6, the Flip Car, a highly functionalised one-of-a-kind machine, is that stellar piece of art. It was Lin who came up with the idea of a specialised vehicle that could plow through oncoming traffic. As the script evolved, the Flip Car went through several incarnations, and with each refinement, Justin Lin, Dennis McCarthy and the team got more and more excited.
Dennis McCarthy explains what all the fuss is about: 'The Flip Car is the one car Justin was the most adamant about. He called me early on asking for something that could run head-on into vehicles and launch them into the air, which is a great idea. It's a pretty spectacular visual. So I started sending him mock-ups. My favourite cars are all about pure function. Granted, it looks super cool, but that wasn't the original intent. It's basically built for function, and that was the fun part. We are thrilled with the way it performs."
Driven by both Shaw and Vegh in the film, the final version of the Flip Car is a low-profile 3,600-lb., three-seat, heavy-metal-exposed skeletal-framed car with an angled ramp-like nose that is able to easily dispatch a vehicle into the air. The build, which took up to 10 weeks to create, is ostensibly a Formula One race car base retrofitted with a supercharged Chevrolet LS3 500-horsepower engine for speed. It includes four-wheel rear steering for stunning manoeuvrability and the ability to wreak havoc on any car in its path.
Ultimately, the production would need to build two additional Flip Cars to accommodate the simultaneous shooting schedules for both film units. Luckily, once the specs were set and all the specialty parts were manufactured for the initial car, the build times clocked in at three weeks. Talk about your Formula One.
From aesthetics and functionality to manoeuvrability and safety, the Flip Car had to satisfy a number of criteria. To ensure the safety of stunt players while executing solid practical action, the second unit team of director Spiro Razatos, second unit stunt coordinator Andy Gill and special effects supervisor Joss Williams, an Academy Award winner for Hugo, tested every car and stunt rig multiple times prior to filming.
When it came to the Flip Car, they quickly realised that because of the way that Dennis McCarthy designed and constructed it, they wouldn't need to wholly rely on a pipe ramp"a device that normally can launch a car in the air and flip it. 'We were pleasantly surprised to discover the Flip Car really could flip the police cars higher than the pipe ramp did," Spiro Razatos provides. 'Amazingly, the footage in Fast & Furious 6 is actually the Flip Car driving head-on at the police cars. So two of our stunt drivers were going head-on with each other, and it all really happened."
The Flip Car continued to exceed expectations and proceeded to contribute to the film's graveyard of several hundred totalled cars. Although Paul Walker eyed the car throughout filming, he never got the chance to take her out for a spin. Luke Evans, however, was lucky enough to drive her, as the cockpit of the car was built to accommodate Evans' 6'1" frame. Good thing stunt drivers Mark Higgins (a U.K. rally driving champion) and Tilly Powell have a similar build to the Welsh actor, as it isn't easy to get in or out of the vehicular weapon.
Still, Paul Walker had his shot at a number of the gorgeous autos. Anyone who has worked with Paul Walker knows he's an avowed gearhead who has always had an affinity for cars; it's in his DNA. Recalls Paul Walker: 'I was indoctrinated early on by my grandfather, who was real mechanical and always had car magazines lying around. He was a Ford guy and realised that he just had a knack for making things better. Back then in Southern California, the best way to showcase your ability mechanically was to get behind the wheel of a car and drag race or go to the racetrack. So he'd get behind the wheel of the car and he'd race. He had the first Ford Falcon to break 160-plus mph, which was really a feat at the time."
Over the course of Paul Walker's five films in this franchise, he's always had input into Brian O'Conner's cars, which have primarily been Nissans. In this chapter, however, he gives a nod to his grandfather and drives the vintage 1971 Mark 1 Ford Escort, the premier rally car of its time, in the tank sequence.
Another mainstay of every Fast film is the underground tuner party, the freewheeling bacchanal where car owners showcase their customised, supercharged eye candy and driving skills"set to the backdrop of stunningly beautiful women. From the gritty late night processions of cars in East Los Angeles to the jam-packed multilevel parking garages in the Shinjuku section of Tokyo, the car culture is alive and kicking in every corner of the world.
London's underground tuner party has a decided sophistication to it and its high-end exotics fit in perfectly with the regal stone architecture of the HM Treasury building, where filming took place over the course of two very cold nights. Located several blocks from the official residence of the prime minister, 10 Downing Street, the loud music, hot girls and revving car engines livened up the night.
The challenge for Dennis McCarthy was finding enough luxury cars whose owners were willing to have hundreds of extras dance on and manhandle their prized possessions. 'I like to fill those party scenes with the best cars we possibly can, and London was a little trickier than most as far as acquiring them," reveals Dennis McCarthy. 'London has a huge car culture, but it's not L.A. Open casting calls for cars are not going to pull 200 car owners like we're used to. Public transportation is essential in London, so cars aren't as plentiful. It was a much lengthier process but, once again, the end result was great."
Crossing the Pond: The Series Heads East
After a decade of dazzling audiences with storylines playing against backdrops in Los Angeles, Miami, Tokyo, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and, most notably, the gritty favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the Fast & Furious series roars across the Atlantic to Europe for its next chapter.
Justin Lin, Neal Moritz, Vin Diesel and Clayton Townsend assembled a dream team of behind-the-scenes talent to help them fully realise a script that even in its earliest of drafts had readers awed. Says Clayton Townsend of the effort: 'We've always said that it takes an army to make these movies. I can't begin to properly thank the hundreds of crew members who took Justin Lin's vision and turned it into what I can honestly say is the most astonishing series of action pieces I've seen committed to film."
Franchise alumni DP Stephen Windon, costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays, visual effects supervisor Kelvin McIlwain (Fast Five), first assistant director Vincent Lascoumes (Fast Five), second unit director Spiro Razatos and second unit director of photography Igor Meglic (Fast Five) were looking forward to continuing the work they began with Justin Lin several years ago.
As with previous Lin-directed Fast & Furious films, massive set pieces dominate the action. For audiences around the world, expectations are quite high with the release of each subsequent chapter. Like the franchise itself, there is nothing subtle or under-the-radar when it comes to the logistics of filming one of these productions. With this chapter, two film units traversed the United Kingdom and the Canary Islands with hundreds of people, hundreds of cars and tons of equipment.
Shooting in London, Glasgow and Liverpool
Ironically, the first four weeks of the production would find the majority of the principal cast"Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot and Gina Carano"ensconced in soundstages at Shepperton Studios as they filmed interior dialogue-driven scenes instead of hauling ass down England's A1 or M4 motorways. That would come in due time. However, the first few days of filming were anything but mundane, as the family of actors and behind-the-scenes crew were reassembled and raring to go.
Principal photography on Fast & Furious 6 began in mid-summer in London, just as the world was tuning in to watch the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games. Justin Lin and the crew needed to keep to a tight schedule of filming in London, even amid the spectacle of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Fortunately, it allowed some of the cast and filmmakers the rare opportunity to be fans and attend a few Olympic events and cheer to their favourite athletes.
Filming at some of London's more iconic locations"such as Piccadilly Circus, Wembley Stadium, Lambeth Bridge, Canary Wharf, Waterloo Station and Battersea Power Station"was integral to the story. Indeed, this portion of the production would follow in the fall, when the city had returned to its usual bustling rhythms. With the bulk of Fast & Furious 6 set in London, the filmmakers wanted to make sure they captured all aspects"from the gritty streets of Hackney in East London and the Thames, with its spectacular views of the Tower Bridge, to the neon-lit streets of Piccadilly.
The production's second 'action" unit, once again helmed by Spiro Razatos, however, would escape the Olympic fervor in London and get straight to filming an hour north of the capital city, near Ipswich. An airstrip at a defunct Royal Air Force base would play host to the crew, who would spend more than three weeks shooting ambitious exterior night-time coverage of the intricately choreographed third-act sequence"known among cast and crew as the 'Antonov sequence."
Perhaps the most ambitious shoot in the history of the franchise, the sequence finds Hobbs, Dom and the team racing down an airstrip in pursuit of Shaw and his crew before they can escape in an enormous Antonov 124 cargo plane. It's a multilayered free-for-all as this final showdown occurs in- and outside the aircraft. The main unit would handle the filming of the interior portion of the Antonov sequence, as well as several key exterior beats of the scene, on the cavernous soundstages of Longcross Studios.
For second unit director Spiro Razatos, the scene was a massive partnership of multiple cameras filming practical stunt action with myriad lighting systems, special effects, picture cars and visual effects components. The art department designed and constructed full-scale sections of the plane fuselage, as well as wheels, the cargo ramp and other key plane sections that were augmented to make it fully operational and mobile when mounted upon semi-trucks.
Precision driving occurred by stunt drivers"both in front of and behind the cameras"as specially rigged camera cars tracked the action by manoeuvring inches from the drivers. The Dodge Chargers, an Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, Jeep, Range Rovers and the Flip Car would all get screen time screaming down the runway as they were followed by high-speed camera cars such as the turbo-charged Porsche Cayenne, Cadillac Escalade and Audi RS4. These were merely a sampling of the arsenal of fast cars selected by Spiro Razatos, Igor Meglic and second unit stunt coordinator Andy Gill as they worked in tandem with justin Lin and the main unit team to capture the driving exploits. Their collaborative experience of creating the cutting-edge action on Fast Five lent itself to stepping up their game for Fast & Furious 6. This shorthand would prove essential throughout filming, particularly for this exhausting first leg, which admittedly was the biggest challenge for the second unit team.
The streets of Glasgow and Liverpool would play host to filming of the 'Team vs. Team" race scenes, which would give the locals their first glimpse at the new crop of eye candy roaring through their streets. London's narrow maze of roadways, often clogged with commuters, was not conducive to filming the bulk of the fast-paced action, so the wider roadways of both cities made ideal substitutes.
Spiro Razatos and the second unit team would first go to Glasgow for two weeks to film the chase scenes in which Hobbs, Dom and the team were hot on the heels of Shaw and his crew for the first time. It's here that the Flip Car was unveiled and wowed everyone as it zigzagged through the streets before launching several police cars into the air. Hobbs' monstrous Navistar MXT also garnered attention as it dwarfed every other car on the street. A week filming in the tunnels and streets of Liverpool would complete the sequence with spectacular fashion.
Luckily, the filmmakers were able to film a driving sequence through Whitehall and Piccadilly Circus. In a rare move, city officials allowed the closure of Piccadilly for several hours so the production could film Dom's Daytona and Letty's Jensen racing through the streets and drifting through the main square. Squealing tires drew whoops and claps from fans and those lucky enough to stumble upon the film set and see the long-lost lovers reunited behind the wheel.
With second unit on an extended road trip, Shepperton Studios, located 13 miles south of central London, would serve as home base for the production's main unit and house green-screen stages, training facilities and several film sets. These included Interpol offices, Dom and Hobbs' London headquarters and the NATO military base.
Longcross Studios, a quick drive from Shepperton Studios, housed additional special effects-rigged film sets to re-create the interior of the Antonov 124 cargo plane. It was also home to the hundreds of picture cars used in the film. A racetrack and service roads on the property allowed the stunt and special effects department to test each and every car"not to mention the Chieftain tank"to ensure that any modifications to the vehicles would withstand their upcoming punishment.
Special effects supervisor Joss Williams and his team, which at its busiest numbered 137-plus, spearheaded Justin Lin's directive to implement as much hands-on action as possible for the film. It is a methodology that Joss Williams wholeheartedly agrees with…as long as he has time to prepare. 'It's all about preparation in special effects," says the veteran SFX supervisor, 'especially when it came to the scope and diverse range of effects involved. I'm fanatic about trying to keep everything as real as possible when I approach any film I work on. Fast & Furious 6 has been a constant juggling act in the best possible way. I can honestly say that any normal action film would be pleased with just one of our sequences, and we've got four. I'm proud of every single one of them."
Building a Russian Plane
As with his previous film projects, which include the HBO epic miniseries The Pacific and The Bourne Ultimatum, Joss Williams knew both creative and logistical considerations must be factored into his concepts for the film's main action sequences. By far, the biggest challenge for Joss Williams and his crew would be the Antonov sequence, the film's biggest set piece, which saw the final showdown among Dom, Hobbs and Shaw and their respective teams.
Since an actual Russian Antonov plane can be difficult to come by, the crew would need to fabricate full-scale, fully functional exterior and interior versions of the plane. Working closely alongside production designer Jan Roelfs and construction manager John Maher was the first step in designing the Hollywood version of the plane. Logically, it was determined that the best approach would be to break it down into pieces.
They would ultimately craft separate, entirely functional exterior plane pieces"from 6-foot high plane tires, the rear cargo hold ramp and a skeleton of the entire wing span (visual effects would lay in the skin in postproduction) to a full-size 40-ton section of the undercarriage that could be stationary or towed by a semi-truck for filming (driving for shots at speeds up to 30-35 mph). Second unit director of photography Meglic would enhance these exterior sets by customising his own mobile lighting system, also affixed to a semi-truck to create light (since the entire sequence takes place at night).
Two separate plane interior sets, each with spectacularly different uses, would wow both cast and crew when filming began in early October. The first, known as the shaker rig, served as the plane fuselage"a 120-foot-long elevated set affixed to a hydraulic gimbal that shook to varying degrees. The lowest, level one, would initiate mild vibrations, while the highest setting, level 11, would invoke violent seismic jolts. A rear cargo ramp also integrated into the construction, allowing vehicles to drive up into the set.
Joss Williams' goal for the plane interior was to make it look and operate authentically. The intricate mechanizations would be the priority, especially when it came to creating a setting to shoot believable action for the actors and the camera. The interior portion of the scene was shot over two weeks and was a shared effort between multiple departments. This labour-intensive fight sequence involved precise choreography among the nine actors and multiple cameras filming the action. Tight quarters inside the set meant that cast and crew had to compete for real estate with pallets of cargo stacked throughout the interiors. Not to mention, they needed to make room for the Charger, the Alfa Romeo and the Flip Car.
Cinematographer Windon devised a clever ceiling-based lighting system that ran the full length of the set and offered minimal lighting setups, but much-needed latitude to capture the multiple fights happening throughout the 120-foot-long elevated set.
The second interior set was a midsection of the plane, with an outer skin that spun up to a 270-degree revolution. This rotisserie gimbal simulated violent shaking of the plane as it spiralled out of control. It was a dizzying sight to watch the elevated set turn from the floor of the soundstage, but when viewing the footage from cameras placed inside the set, anyone witnessing the sequence was awestruck.
Rolling a 10-Ton Chieftain Tank in the Canary Islands
Mid-October found the cast and crew gearing up to film for several weeks on location in Tenerife, Canary Islands. They would join the second unit team, who was finishing up their five-week shoot on the sun-drenched island. The Canary Islands, which Mia advised in Fast Five has 'no extradition with the U.S.," now serves as their refuge. For production, the versatile island served as a bonus location and offered a multitude of filming options. The lush green northern side served as locations for Dom and Elena's home, Brian and Mia's home, the hospital where baby Jack is born and Tej's tropical exile in Costa Rica, as well as the opening driving sequence as Dom and Brian raced through the narrow, hilly streets in their signature rides.
A motorway nestled in the stark, arid mountains in the southern region of the island offered the perfect vista for yet another jaw-dropping sequence that has Shaw and his team hijacking a convoy with Dom and our heroes again nipping at his heels. Two different stretches of a motorway being built by the local government, a five-kilometre and a 10-kilometer one, each allowed both the main and second units to film practical action of the tank sequence. Here, we watch the Chieftain tank speeding down the highway, taking out vehicles as Dom and his team attempt to thwart their plans.
Once filming was underway and the team saw the second unit footage, the crew realised they could possibly outdo the gold standard of Fast Five's vault sequence. Truly, the massive tank was doing everything it was designed to do and more. Joss Williams used his expertise in physics, engineering and mechanics to ensure it. His team had made up two additional versions of the tank"modified to be lighter at merely 10 tons each and contain functional spinning turrets; these 'mini-beasts" were able to shoot black gun powder-based blasts while still reaching speeds of 70 mph.
For the filmmakers, it was all in a day's work. 'We crushed a lot of cars, as usual," cites Neal Moritz. 'We probably did the most damage because of the tank sequence. There was a graveyard of smashed cars on the side of the freeway, and when I say smashed cars, I mean cars that were 5-feet-high were pancaked to 12 inches. Our plan was to have a mix of practical crushes combined with visual effects but, thankfully, the tank was so efficient we were able to shoot a lot of this in real time. It's an amazing sequence that has never been done before."
The presence of the entire cast on the island generated excitement among inquisitive locals. Hundreds of fans waited in the streets and braved an atypical downpour of rain for the chance to get a glimpse of their favourite actors. After the first day of filming, word of mouth on the island brought out the local gearheads, who naturally cruised the streets to show off their babies"replete with custom paint jobs and ear-piercing horsepower.
For Justin Lin, Vin Diesel, Neal Moritz, Clayton Townsend and the rest of the cast and crew, there was nothing more satisfying than that procession, a testament to the staying power of the franchise and cultural phenomenon that it has become.
Appropriately, after the cold, rainy London shoot that was followed by the sun-drenched weeks in Tenerife, the final days of shooting on Fast & Furious 6 would be in Los Angeles. The original Toretto home, near Dodger Stadium, was the final location for filming. The house, which was used in the first chapter, has changed owners twice. The garage, which housed Dom's prized Charger and had long been demolished, was rebuilt"as it was for Fast & Furious"for filming. The filmmakers and Universal had the foresight to keep the original design plans.
It was a homecoming long overdue for all, especially Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster, who spent the most time at the two-story bungalow-style home. As the ensemble cast filmed some of their last scenes together, one couldn't help but think that all roads do indeed lead here.
Fast & Furious 6
Release Date: June 6th, 2013