Michelle Rodriguez’s return to ‘Fast & Furious’ was a surprise — even to her

Go big or go home. This summer's "Fast & Furious 6," the latest installment of the globe-trotting blockbuster auto action franchise, promises explosive vehicular mayhem, knuckle-busting action, and the triumphant return of the fan-favorite "Fast" cast -- including one character's apparent resurrection from the dead.

Michelle Rodriguez, who starred in 2001's original "The Fast and the Furious," returns to the series as high-speed heistin' tough gal Letty, former partner in crime and lost love to Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto. She was seemingly killed after a fiery crash, albeit offscreen, in the fourth film. But in "Fast & Furious 6," it appears that rumors of Letty's death were greatly exaggerated -- much to the surprise of her old flame.

Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez talk to Yahoo! Movies on the set of 'Fast & Furious 6':

Of course, fans of the series knew she'd be back. Those who stuck around after the main credit sequence of the last "Fast" outing were treated to a juicy epilogue with Dwayne Johnson and a cameo from Eva Mendes -- reprising her federal agent role from "2 Fast 2 Furious" -- who dropped a photographic bombshell: Letty was alive, and implicated in the recent hijacking of a military convoy in Germany. The tasty cliffhanger conveniently set up the sixth sequel, and immediately left "Fast" fans clamoring for the inevitable next film.

Fans weren't the only ones who were hit with the surprise ending. Michelle Rodriguez says that Diesel, who also serves as producer, purposefully left her in the dark about the fact that her character's grainy photo would be the parting shot of "Fast Five."

"They wanted to surprise me," said Rodriguez, speaking with Yahoo! Movies on the London set of "Fast & Furious 6." "I didn't find out until I actually went to the theater and saw it myself."

However, Diesel says Rodriguez's return was always on the road map. Even her supposed "death" scene in "Fast & Furious," which led audiences to believe that Letty was murdered, was deliberately crafted to leave the door open for the character's eventual re-emergence in the series.

"We had designed all of those scenes to allow for this inevitable return," said Diesel.

It's this return that pulls Dominic back behind the wheel. "Fast & Furious 6" finds Letty working as the second-in-command of an outfit of lethally-skilled mercenary drivers pulling jobs across twelve countries. DSS Agent Hobbs recruits Dom and his associates to outmatch this dangerous criminal organization on the streets of London, in exchange for full pardons for the whole crew.

In addition to the tire squeals and hot pursuits we've come to expect from the "Fast" franchise, we'll see Rodriguez going mano-a-mano with real-life mixed martial arts fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano, who plays a member of Hobbs' team. Trailers also indicate Dom and Letty's reunion does not go well.

"Fast & Furious 6," director Justin Lin's fourth time around in the series' driver's seat, speeds into theaters everywhere on May 24.