It's all about family. A bigger, faster, louder family.
London's Piccadilly Circus was closed down Tuesday morning to make way for the world premiere of "Fast and Furious Six," the latest installment in the high-octane action franchise that began in 2001. As the stars walked the carpet (not red, but racing blue), the two themes that kept popping up: twelve years after the first "Fast and the Furious," the team has become a lot like a family, and this movie is going to blow its five precursors out of the water.
The event was as splashy as the movie, complete with custom cars, sexy dancers, a live DJ, and most of the stars of the picture on hand to talk up the movie and work the crowd of fans waiting for a glimpse of the cast.
As Vin Diesel took to the podium, he turned to the crowd and lustily shouted, "We made the movie for all of you! YEAH!" As the fans roared their approval, Diesel said he related to his character because they’re both family men. "As a big brother and a guy who loves family, we have a lot of similarities," Diesel said. "I take care of my family just like Dom takes care of his."
And what can fans expect from the picture? Diesel went back into shout mode and said, "They're gonna get the best 'Fast and Furious' they've ever seen. They're gonna get the final answer to all six films. They’re gonna get FIRE!"
Diesel's co-star Paul Walker, who returns as Brian, didn’t use the word family as he talked about the picture, but he could just as well have. "I've been dealing with a lot of people now who mean a lot to me," Walker said while looking back on the series so far. "We've been sharing a good chunk of our life making this franchise, and to have the fans like this, who've been supporting us as long as they have, that's what makes it possible again and again."
And while most of the actors were mindful about not dropping spoilers, Walker did reveal one serious hint about what to expect from the movie. "One question I've gotten for years and years now, is 'How does Three [2006's 'The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift'] tie into the franchise?' That's been a big question mark and it’s one even I haven't been able to answer. In this one, you get to see it. The whole thing ties in. For all of you wondering, that's what you're gonna have here."
Jordana Brewster, who is back as Mia, touched on family as she discussed her character's maternal side. " My favorite scene [in the movie] was the first scene that Paul and I had with our baby, our little baby Jack," Brewster said. "That just brought a whole new element to 'Fast and Furious,' sort of continuing the generations, and that was lovely."
When Brewster was asked if there would be more "Fast and Furious," she replied, " It all depends on the fans. If the fans want us back, we'll come back." Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, who plays Tej, was less subtle on this issue. "I can let the cat out of the bag – we're already making a 'Fast 7'! Right now! It's all goin' down!" Bridges said. "I'm just glad to be part of such a great cast and such a great franchise, and we're gonna keep 'em goin'. They're writing Part 7 as we speak!"
Bridges, while dressed in a sharp blue suit, admitted he was enjoying London's nightlife, confessing, "I'm still hung over from last night!"
For attitude, though, rapper Bridges barely held a candle to Michelle Rodriguez, who returns as Letty in "Fast and Furious 6." As she greeted her fans, Rodriguez yelled, "I love you guys! It’s because of you that I'm back, and I thank you so much!"
Rodriguez said that she wasn't even aware her character, presumed dead earlier in the series, was poised for a comeback when she was tagged at the end of 2011's "Fast Five." "Vin warned me in 'Fast 4,' and he said there were lots of precautions taken for the possibility of bringing Letty back," Rodriquez said. "I guess I didn't really buy it. Then I saw 'Fast and Furious Five' while I was in Paris, because I wanted to see the Rock go head to head with Vin! And at the end, I saw the tag ending, and I was like, 'Dude, really? You’re one of my best friends, you didn't holler at a girl?'"
Rodriguez also looked stylish, wearing a strapless red gown with a long train that she often needed help to move in, saying, "I'm trying to get rid of the cargo pants and the tank tops, know what I'm sayin'?" And expect things to get steamy between Letty and Diesel's Dom. "I feel it's about time for some street love!" she said. "You know, I like that street love. I relate to it personally, because I had it in my life. And it's really great to play that on the big screen. 'Cause you don't see much of it."
One star that wasn't in London for the premiere was Dwayne Johnson, who is reprising his role as Luke Hobbs from "Fast Five." But two of his co-stars spoke fondly of him. Brewster said, "Dwayne brings a lot of great energy to anything he does. We're sending him love from London." But she did mention one downside to working with the Rock: "I have to stop myself from staring at them [his biceps]! I just keep staring at these giant biceps!"
And Gal Gadot, who appears as Gisele, said the big guy is really a sweetheart. "Oh my God, [Dwayne]'s huge!," Gadot said. "But you know, as big as he is, that's how big of a heart he has. He's such a great man to work with. And that was my second one with him, and I feel very privileged to work with people that I care about so much."
The premiere was a bit of an emotional moment for director Justin Lin. "Fast and Furious Six" is the fourth film he's directed in the franchise so far, and James Wan will be taking over the reigns for "Fast and Furious 7." "Well, it’s been eight years," Lin said. "When I signed up to do this, this was my greatest dream, to be able to kind of evolve, and now we've all become a family, to be able to be here and share this together. It means everything."
But Lin clearly believes he's leaving the series on a high note. "I would say this is the culmination of everything," Lin said. "If I had to pick one, this is the one that without the other ones, it wouldn't exist."
And as Lin spoke, he was within a few hundred feet of where some of the movie's chase scenes were shot. "The Fast and Furious 6" is only the third movie in which Piccadilly Circus was closed down for location shooting, albeit only in short bursts. "It was about seven minutes at a time," Lin said. "We had seven minutes to shoot, then pack up, wait, and do another seven minutes. But we're only the third film in history to be able to do that, and it meant everything for us to be there."
And musician and actor Tyrese Gibson, who plays Roman, summed up the attitude of the cast and crew in attendance when he told press and fans, "I want all the fans to know around the world: we worked really hard, we read all of the comments and feedback all over the world from the internet about how much y'all loved 'Fast Five,' and we wanted to make 'Fast Six' that much greater. We hope to never let you down! This is bigger, better, and greater than 'Fast Five'!"
American movie fans will get to find out if they agree when "Fast and Furious 6" opens in theaters May 24.