"I wanted to beat Tom Cruise to the punch, Richard Branson and Elon Musk," cracks Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, whose Tej Parker and Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce make the series' maiden voyage to the cosmos during the sequel’s most buzzed-about action sequence – one that is both predictably outrageous and yet still stunning a decision, even a series known for its waaaay over the top stunt pieces. "We had to do it." (Watch our cast interviews above.)
"It speaks to Fast listening to its audience," says co-star John Cena. “It was kind of a cheeky joke that morphed itself into, 'They should do this!'"
Since first revealed with the release of the film’s trailer in April, the internet's had its fun with "Fast in Space" memes. But director and co-writer Justin Lin insists the sequence is more realistic than you might think.
"I stand by the science, it’s actually much more sound than some of the other action sequences that we have," says Lin, who consulted with a NASA scientist on the movie.
The concept of the Fast saga going to space has long been floated by fans. But Lin says the franchise’s die-hard following had even more direct effect in another big slice of fan service: The return of Tokyo Drift favorite and world-class snacker Han Lue (Sung Kang), who had appeared in prequels since his "death" in the 2006 threequel, but is fully resurrected in F9.
"The #JusticeforHan movement, that was for real," says Lin, who first introduced the character in the 2002 indie Better Luck Tomorrow before porting him over to Tokyo Drift. "As I look back no, I feel very fortunate to have a fanbase that is so passionate and vocal that when something is wrong, they were not going to put up with it. And now I get to bring one of [the most] beloved characters back… Really, that’s a hundred percent for the fans."
Says Kang: "When I first heard about it on social media, I didn’t take it seriously. I had closure and I was content with moving on. But then as it started growing, it was very flattering, as an artist, to be able to play a character that is being called back, or there's a campaign to resurrect. I was very humbled, to play a character that dies over and over. Come on man, this is bucket list stuff. How can you see it as anything negative? It’s just a blessing, man."
So Ludacris and Tyrese go to space, and Han is still alive after all these years… Yet that still might not be the most wackadoo plot detail of them all in F9.
Cena compares that revelation to the movie's trip to the stars: "The creative team put it as a story point of necessity, it’s not just doing it to do it… but making it fun and quirky and science-y. Just like Dom's long-lost brother showing up after nine movies, it seamlessly makes sense. That’s what Fast does best. They make the impossible possible."
Another sequence in the film that could possibly be viewed as fan service is a sequence in which Helen Mirren – playing badass mama Queenie Shaw – finally gets to do some fast driving after not getting any action in her entry into the series with 2017's The Fate of the Furious. But this one was just as much Mirren service as fan service.
"I think I whined and moaned and told him off," Mirren says of series star and key master Diesel. (Her costar Nathalie Emmanuel also drives for the first time, but was far less vocal about wanting her hacker Ramsey to get behind the wheel).
"And he’s so sweet and kind, he listened to me. And I have to say, especially to be driving down the mall in London toward Buckingham Palace, unbelievable. I couldn’t believe my luck, really, it was incredible."
F9 is now playing.
Watch Sung Kang explain why Han is eating all the time:
-Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by John Santo
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