It’s hardly surprising that Charlize Theron has been cast as the villain in the new Fast and the Furious sequel Fast 8. In addition to being a sought-after actress, she’s more than established herself as a compelling lead in action films (see Mad Max: Fury Road), and one who certainly knows her way around a steering wheel (see Mad Max: Fury Road again).
The news also prompted one Reddit user to note that the Oscar winner first distinguished herself as an excellent onscreen driver when she was shooting F. Gary Gray’s 2003 remake of The Italian Job and had to overcome some preconceived, sexist notions about what she could do.
A behind-the-scenes featurette shared via the Reddit movies thread includes an interview with Theron where she explains that, before the cast members — including Mark Wahlberg and Jason Statham — began their driving training, it was suggested that she might need a little extra help in the skidding and turning department.
Watch the video:
“I remember my agent calling me and saying, ‘They want to customize a car for you so that it’s automatic.’ I was like, ‘What is this, like, when you’re a girl, everybody just automatically thinks you drive like crap?’ And by the way, they want you to do two weeks’ extra driving school, separate from the guys. And I was like: I’ll kick their butts.”
And kick their butts is exactly what she did.
“The actors loved it and they were all great at it,” producer Donald DeLine says of the time the cast members spent careening around in Mini Coopers. “Maybe the best was Charlize Theron.”
“We really didn’t have to teach Charlize how to drive,” adds Gray. “We were just trying to hold her back.”
Gray surely remembered how good she was. He’s the same guy who’s directing Fast 8, and just recruited his best driver from The Italian Job to join the “ride or die” gang.