Until the seventh installment comes out Friday, The Fast and the Furious franchise is 684 minutes of NOS-fueled races and occasional bad acting. And that’s if you just count the movies themselves. Add in the director’s commentary and bonus material on each movie’s Blu-ray and you’re looking at more than a full day’s worth of footage. In an effort to uncover a list of Fast trivia worthy of the franchise, I subjected myself to all of it — every deleted scene, every featurette, every moment a director talked about how easygoing the cast was. Here are 70 things I learned. (Warning: Spoilers throughout.)
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
1. The original idea for the film came from former Universal executive Scott Stuber, who brought eventual producer Neal H. Moritz and director Rob Cohen a Vibe magazine article about street racing in New York City. Cohen originally “didn’t see the movie in it” but changed his mind after attending a street race in Los Angeles.
2. Universal traded B-movie master Roger Corman stock footage in exchange for the ability to use the name of his 1955 movie, The Fast and the Furious.
3. The opening drag race took over two minutes from start to finish on screen, or 110 seconds longer than a drag race typically takes. Cohen did this to make the race more dramatic and establish its importance. All of the shots of actors during the race were done on green screen and the shots of cars were computer generated.
4. The woman groped by Edwin (Ja Rule) before the drag race wasn’t an actress or an extra. She was simply, as Cohen says in the director’s commentary, a woman “who was in Ja’s trailer.”
5. The “Race Wars” scene, filmed at the San Bernardino International Airport, included 1,500 cars and 1,000 extras who found out about the opportunity to appear in the movie through advertisements the production team put online.
The original ‘The Fast and the Furious’ crew (Universal Pictures/The Kobal Collection)
6. Michelle Rodriguez’s character Letty Ortiz wasn’t a significant part of the original script, but once the actress got on set, Cohen devised the love story between Letty and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) to increase her screen time.
7. Cohen has a cameo in the movie as a Pizza Hut driver whose route is interrupted by a street race. Moritz has one, too, as a douchey guy in a convertible.
8. Stunt coordinator Mic Rodgers invented a vehicle called the Mic Rig to shoot scenes in which actors had to drive cars and have conversations. The rig allowed for the top half of a car to be lowered onto a long van chassis, which could be driven by a stunt driver. A backward passenger seat in the Mic Rig allowed a cameraman to sit facing the actors, giving the illusion that they were driving.
9. Neither Jordana Brewster nor Michelle Rodriguez had a driver’s license at the beginning of the film.
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in the movie’s final race (The Kobal Collection)
10. The train that nearly hits Dominic and Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) as they finish the last race of the movie was shot separately from the cars. The frames were combined in postproduction.
11. In order to get a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, Cohen cut graphic frames of Vince’s (Matt Schulze) bloodied, gnashed arm from the second truck-hijacking sequence. He also shortened the scene in which Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) fills a mechanic’s mouth with oil.
12. By Cohen’s estimation, the Honda Civic driving underneath a semitruck, which was featured prominently in promotional material, added $50 million to the movie’s gross.
13. In an attempt to keep the movie’s visual palette muted, Cohen had his production crew repaint bright houses in the Echo Park neighborhood where the Toretto house was located. In the commentary, Cohen said he wanted the world’s colors to be boring while cars were “so bright as to pop off the screen.”
14. Despite what Sgt. Tanner (Ted Levine) says, the round house where the police are headquartered was not built by Eddie Fisher for Elizabeth Taylor in the ’50s. It was built by an architect for his mother in the early ’60s.
15. Technical advisors R.J. de Vera and Craig Lieberman both had cameos: de Vera as the fourth driver in the movie’s first race, and Lieberman as the flag guy during the “Race Wars” scene.
16. At the end of the Dominic vs. Johnny Tran fight during Race Wars, Vin Diesel accidentally broke the nose of the bodyguard breaking them up. He happened to be a stuntman.
17. Cohen said he shot even the most boring, expository scenes “as if it were a race, with the camera always in motion, the perspective constantly changing to create the feeling of energy.”
18. Movies that inspired scenes or plot points include Stagecoach, West Side Story, Donnie Brasco and Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break, which writer Chris Morgan has been accused of ripping off.
Watch the trailer for the original ‘Fast and the Furious:’
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
19. The “Turbo-Charged Prelude,” first included on the Tricked Out Edition of the 2 Fast DVD, is a short film showing Brian’s journey from L.A. to Miami. On his way he wins street races in Arizona and gets chased by police through Texas, before fixing up a car he drives to Florida.
Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson in ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’ (Universal)
20. Producers didn’t want Paul Walker to attempt the power slide after the movie’s first race. New director John Singleton said it was a “big insurance issue,” but he thought it would look better with Walker really pulling off the move.
21. Devon Aoki, who plays Suki, had never driven a car before signing up for 2 Fast. She had, however, driven a golf cart.
22. In discussing his return for the sequel on the DVD extras, Paul Walker said, “I didn’t have a choice in the matter because they had an option on me.”
23. Tyrese Gibson, who plays Roman Pearce, made the production crew redesign the Spyder he drove in the movie. Chrome rims were added, the yellow suede interior was removed, and the car got a new, more intricate paint job.
Devon Aoki as Suki (Universal)
24. Tyrese insisted on taking his shirt off at some point in the movie. He got his chance after the race to win a job on Carter Varone’s (Cole Hauser) crew. Singleton said Gibson worked out like crazy to prepare for that scene.
25. Singleton said he chose to have Varone torture Det. Whitworth (Mark Boone Junior) with the hot-rat-on-the-chest technique because it was creepy while not being graphic, which helped keep the movie’s PG-13 rating.
Tyrese Gibson’s big shirtless scene (Universal)
26. The audience for first film was heavily Spanish-speaking, Singleton says on the director’s commentary, which is why he prominently featured the Latino culture of Miami.
27. In the director’s commentary, Singleton mentions that the song “Oye” on the soundtrack is from a “local Miami rapper” named Pitbull. It’s proof that before he was Mr. Worldwide, Pitbull was in fact, Mr. 305.
Watch the ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’ trailer:
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
28. The director Justin Lin went through five different designs of the duck mascot that appears briefly in the high school parking lot scene in the movie’s opening sequence.
29. As Lin says in the director’s commentary, filming in Tokyo is really difficult. So he had Lucas Black, who plays Sean Boswell, walk through city streets with a steadicam following him until cops shut them down. A couple got arrested.
Lucas Black and Nathalie Kelly in ‘Tokyo Drift’ (Universal)
30. Among the Japanese celebrities in film are the math teacher played by Rie Shibata, who Lin said is Japan’s Oprah, the flag guy for the first race played by Satoshi Tsumabuki, who Lin said is Japan’s Tom Cruise, and Paw Man, the sumo wrestler in the public bath played by Konishiki Yasokichi, who Lin said is Japan’s Michael Jordan.
31. Real-life drift king Keiichi Tsuchiya, who advised some of the racing scenes, has a cameo in the movie as a fisherman.
Bow Wow and friends in ‘Tokyo Drift’ (Universal)
32. The movie’s major set piece, a race though Shibuya in downtown Tokyo, included footage shot in Tokyo and footage shot in the L.A., where the production crew shut down Wilshire Blvd, erected Japanese signs and turned it into a temp Tokyo. CGI was used to complete the transformation.
33. Han Lue (Sung Kang) is often shown eating snacks, which will continue throughout the franchise. This is a reference to the character Kang played in Lin’s indie movie Better Luck Tomorrow, who’s also named Han and was constantly smoking.
Sung Kang in ‘Tokyo Drift’ (Universal)
34. In the Japanese version of the movie, the Yakuza member who’s missing four fingers in the original cut, is shown with all of his fingers.
35. Bow Wow painstakingly learned lines in Japanese for a scene that was ultimately deleted.
36. Vin Diesel declined payment for his cameo at the end of the movie. Instead, he traded Universal for the rights to the Riddick franchise.
Watch the ‘Tokyo Drift’ trailer:
Fast & Furious (2009)
37. The idea for the opening heist of a fuel tanker originated with the brainstorm that gear heads like Dom wouldn’t be able to afford gas, so they’d have to steal it.
Michelle Rodriguez during the opening sequence
38. The trucker’s iguana in the scene wouldn’t bite the driver’s ice cream, as Lin wanted. In the commentary, Lin says the lizard was starved for two weeks and brought back to the set. When it still didn’t bit the ice cream, they decided to make it happen with CGI.
39. The production crew returned to the original Torretto house in Echo Park, but when they got there, the neighborhood was gentrified and a young couple was living in the house. Lin paid them to let him kill a bunch of roses and make the house look gritty again.
40. Ron Yuan, who played the small role of mechanic David Park and had to be held out of a window by Vin Diesel, has vertigo. While he misled Lin about this during his casting, the director said it ultimately worked out because the actor was scared to death while hanging out of the window.
41. One of the product placement requests Lin had to shoot down was from a company that wanted to have its ringtone prominently featured in the movie.
42. Rather than do traditional workouts, Laz Alonso, who plays Fenix, did prison style exercises because he thought that was more in line with his character.
Paul Walker in ‘Fast & Furious’
43. Lin got the idea for the race that would determine Braga’s newest team member while annoyed with the GPS system in his car.
44. Lin said executing the dramatic tunnel chase was the “most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.” The production constructed tunnels in a San Pedro warehouse, which allowed the use of real cars, but required CGI enhancement of the tunnel walls.
Watch the ‘Fast & Furious’ trailer:
Fast Five (2011)
45. Lin initially didn’t want to return to the franchise, but after marveling at fan excitement while promoting the previous movie, he decided to come back aboard.
46. For the opening train sequence, the production bought a train and designed a truck to crash into it. The truck, built with monster truck suspension, nearly derailed the train when it hit it. For the end of the scene, when Dom and Brian jump a cliff in a 1963 Corvette Grand Sport, stuntmen and a car were actually thrown off of the cliff. The car was a replica of the valuable Chevrolet.
The ‘Fast Five’ team (Universal)
47. The studio fought Lin on both the train sequence and the favela chase, which required actors to jump from roof to roof. (The chase was filmed in Puerto Rico, which stood in for Rio de Janeiro.) A week and a half of production time was budgeted for the chase and it was completed in two and a half days.
48. The role of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) was initially intended for a “Tommy Lee Jones type.”
Elsa Pataky and Dwayne Johnson (Universal)
49. The short scene featuring Vince’s baby in the favelas was difficult to shoot during production in Puerto Rico because the triplets playing the little boy wouldn’t stop crying. Lin was forced to rebuild the set in Atlanta and find new babies to play the boy.
50. Lin credited the episodes of Community he directed in 2009 and 2010 for giving him experience covering a large cast, which he had to do during much of Fast Five.
Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster in the favela chase scene (Universal)
51. Joaquim de Almeida, who plays the corrupt businessman Reyes, is known by some as the Latino Phil Hartman. The similarities are striking.
52. Lin had days of meetings to decide on the consistency of the human waste that came exploding out the police station toilet. He eventually settled on oatmeal.
53. In order to explain where Dom’s crew gets the money to fund their operation, a scene was filmed that showed Roman stealing a bag of money from Reyes’ money-laundering house. Lin later cut the scene because he thought it explained too much.
54. Lin said he and writer Chris Morgan drafted 40 versions of Dom’s toast at the end of the family scene and ended up using none of them.
55. Justin Lin and second unit director Spiro Razatos planned the vault sequence using Matchbox cars and a Rubik’s cube.
Gal Gadot and Sung Kang (Universal)
56. The rooftop favela chase and the vault sequence were shot in Puerto Rico, subbing as Rio. Shooting in the actual favelas of Rio was considered too difficult because of all the equipment and people needed to pull off the action sequences. In Puerto Rico, the producers had more control and better “architectural bones” to work with, according to producer Michael Fottrell. For the climax of the vault chase, the production even bought out a private bridge.
57. In order to pull off the vault sequence, several versions of the vault were built. There was a steerable vault built over a truck cab used when it needed to take corners, a vault on the end of a semitruck used when it needed to careen down the street, a vault on a crane used when it needed to swing through the air and a vault on a rolling axle used when it needed to demolish a bank.
58. Lin’s 2-year-old son makes a cameo as a baby on a city bus who watches the vault fly down the street.
59. Michelle Rodriguez didn’t know she would be returning to the franchise, as implied in the movie’s postcredit sequence, until she saw it in theaters.
Watch the trailer for ‘Fast Five:’
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
60. Lin’s original plan was for this to be two movies, the first named The Fast, which would have ended with the tank sequence, and the second named The Furious, which would have ended with the plane sequence.
61. After settling on it being one movie, Lin wanted to call it Furious 6. While the promotional materials call the movie Fast & Furious 6, Lin got his way on the title card.
62. Lin cast several of the actors in Owen Shaw’s (Luke Evans) crew after seeing them in films while he served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival.
63. Michelle Rodriguez and Gina Carano, who plays treacherous federal agent Riley, spent months preparing for their fight in the London Tube. The fight itself took three days to shoot and Rodriguez had to prod Carano, a former professional MMA fighter, to be a rougher with her.
Dwayne Johnson and Gina Carano (Universal)
64. Rita Ora, who flags the start of the Letty and Dom race, was digitally inserted into the scene. She was asked to be in the film after Diesel met her and told Lin she was the perfect embodiment of London.
65. In order to retain the film’s PG-13 rating, the sound during the prison fight between Brian and Braga (John Ortiz) had to be edited to make it sound less violent.
Tyrese Gibson tries out a new toy (Universal)
66. The suggestion to make Riley a mole for Shaw’s team came from a Universal executive. In the commentary, Lin said that even though “usually when you hear executives talk you want to throw them in a closet,” he liked this idea and used it.
67. The original design of Shaw’s flip car was for an SUV with a flip ramp that lowered to ground level. Lin wanted something more European, so the production crew designed the F1-inspired flip car used in the movie.
68. Filming in Piccadilly Circus was a logistical nightmare, so Lin planned to build a replica to use for the tank scene. When officials in Tenerife offered him the use of a new, unopened bridge, he decided that would be a better location for the mayhem-filled sequence.
Roman’s flight during the tank chase (Universal)
69. Lin’s son makes another cameo, again on a bus, watching as cars race through London.
70. To pull off the plane sequence at the end of the movie, the production crew built the cockpit, cargo hold, wings, and landing gear for an Antonov plane. Or, essentially, an entire Antonov plane.