Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson & Charlize Theron – The Fast & The Furious

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INTERVIEW WITH

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vin Diesel & Charlize Theron

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Normally when a popular animated or comic book character is brought to life by an actor or actress for the big screen the internet goes into meltdown by fanboys outraged by the decision. Remember the recent outcry when Gal Gadot was announced to be playing Wonder Woman, or even the online petitions that started up when the original line-up of The Avengers was revealed.

Strangely when Scarlett Johansson was chosen to play Major in director Rupert Sanders real-life adaption of the 1995 anime Ghost In The Shell the naysayers online were strangely silent. Perhaps it was because of the fact that Johansson was already well known to sci-fi fans – after all she has been praised for her roles in films such as Lucy and of course her portrayal of Black Widow in the Avengers franchise. Or perhaps it was the revealing shots of Johansson in her skin-tight outfit that the role of Major demanded she wear that graced the Net very early on in the production process of Ghost In The Shell.

While many of the people who saw those pictures had little doubt that Johansson had the physical attributes to play Major she says the character was a lot more challenging than people would imagine. “The challenge for was really physical but then the emotional challenge of this character was even more difficult,” Johansson explains. “These questions come up that really haunt her – who am I, what is my purpose, if my body doesn’t belong to me then who do I belong to, does my mind belong somebody, do my experiences belong to somebody else? Plus she is experiencing betrayal and feelings of abandonment and all of the questioning. You know all of that is really hard to live with for the duration of filming.”

Anybody that has seen the original anime of Ghost In The Shell will know that Major’s story is a complex one and while the film is guaranteed to have some amazing action sequences the plot itself is very character driven. With her role in Lucy already behind her the notion of acting in a character-driven action film is something that is not lost on Johansson although she is quick to admit that it is also very rare in modern day. “I think it is just weird to have a character-driven story in this particular genre. To be able to be able to part of something like that is really… profound,” she says searching her mind for the right word to describe how she feels. “This film deals with all these questions – all these existential questions – these questions of identity and what it means to be human. And also as we strive to advance on experience what are we willing to sacrifice of the human experience. These are all pretty heavy questions and it’s nice to be able to explore them in this explosive universe that has been created here.”

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One of the big surprises people got when the first announcements were made about The Fate Of The Furious was the fact that respected actress Helen Mirren would be taking up her role in the cast. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise considering the award winning actress recently starred in the Red franchise as well but even Diesel laughs when the name is mentioned. “Helen Mirren!!!” he exclaims. “The truth of it all is what is so fascinating. She started calling me out on talk-shows saying ‘I love Vin Diesel and I want to be in Fast & Furious, make that happen Vin’ I was at a party a year ago, an Oscar party, and my agent introduced me to her and she said ‘I’ve been talking about you and I’ve been saying that I want to be in Fast & Furious get into together Vin, get it together’ and that point her role wasn’t written into the movie yet and the director and the writer flew down to the Dominician Republic to me and we worked on the script for a week and in that time we wrote her in because ultimately her character helped out, it ended up being a gift for us because her character provides the connective tissue that we really, really needed and was something that we perhaps didn’t realise that we needed for our part. One of my favourite parts of filming Fast was getting to do scenes with Helen Mirren.”

The other big change this time around is the man sitting in the director’s chair – James Wan exits and F. Gary Gray, the man behind films like the remake of The Italian Job and Sraight Outta Compton enters. “What we really needed was a director who was going to focus on our performances. It is why we have Oscar-winning actors in this film and it is why F. Gary Gray was the perfect director for this chapter. Because I knew from A Man Apart what Gary could pull out in terms of a darker character I knew that he would be perfect to be able to expose a more deadly and dangerous side to Dom Toretto and that was the thing that was most exciting about having him as director for number eight.”

 

…continued below…

 

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Aside from Helen Miren and F. Gary Gray the other big newcomer to the franchise this time around is Charlize Theron and just one look at the trailer tells you she plays a huge part in Dom switching sides but also creates a romantic triangle. “She is rapacious,” says Theron when asked to describe her character – Cipher. “And of course she is wanting it all. And there are moments when she is not even knowing why she wants it all, she just wants it all and that says a lot about a character. I do think there is something about her that we haven’t quite fully delved into in this film which lends itself into great possibilities later. But just off the bat there is something great about just watching a character come in and take what she wants and doing it in a way that we haven’t seen before, and that is also the challenge. I remember saying to Chris ‘nothing that she ever does or gets away with can be of easy choice.’ That makes for challenging writing and a challenge playing it, but I think we came up with something that feels organic and also feels unusual in the way that it is laid out and also in the cause and effect of it.”

“As much as we working on the character and the development and wanting to create somebody that was unusual we had to come up with a look that had to celebrate that and fit that person,” says Theron switching to describing how Chipher looks. “My assistant actually came up with the hair, she just came up with out of nowhere ‘you should do dreadlocks’ and I think that everybody went to the… you know… the quintessential look of when you say dreadlocks but it was kind of a way of working out how to finesse that into something that was very sleek and almost dangerous looking… like her hair could be weapons, like her hair could hurt you but at the same time still look really beautiful… that was really fun. The clothes were also a lot of fun I just didn’t want to do the tight little business dresses or the business suits that everybody thought of initially for her. That was something that I thought of with her, that she was more artistic than that. Even though she is so evil there is something kind of cool about her.”

There is a big danger that fans are not going to like Cipher simply for the reason that she gets between Dom and Letty so why does Theron think Cipher goes after Dom in such a big way. “I think she chooses him is because he might have the most vulnerable aspect to his character, certainly more than any of the other characters,” she explains. “That makes her even more delicious because she can kind of prey on those vulnerabilities and I don’t think any of the characters would have lended themselves to the possibility of forcing somebody into a corner the way that Dom allows her to do it. There are things that are so important to Dom’s character, to Dom as a character, that the threat of losing of any of those things makes him more of a pawn for her and I think that is why she chooses him. And I think she also likes the challenge of knowing that he is somebody who swore his entire life that he would never break his code and I think she loves the challenge of taking on somebody like that and actually getting them to break their code.”

So what was it like working with the great man himself – Vin Diesel. “I think we were both excited to be working on something that was going to be surprising. And I think that the concept was surprising on its own. There were so many details of that surprise in every scene that we did together and I think we both kind of relished in that and it was a little bit like we would show up every day and we knew what the space was and ninety per cent of the time it was just me and him in the room shooting five or six pages of dialogue and you can have a lot of fun with another actor when you get to do interesting things like that and really get to play on words and meaning and when you’re allowed to push everything outside of its comfort zone and I think that we both had a lot of fun with that.”

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Of course returning back this time around is one man that Dom did convert to seeing the world through his eyes – Luke Hobbs played by Dwayne Johnson and this time Hobbs gets to go one-on-one with his arch nemesis Deckard Shaw so what was it like for Johnson to once again work with Jason Statham? “Fast Eight gave myself and Jason Statham great liberty to just go because we knew what we wanted to do was just create a great relationship that audiences are just going to love. Like this Butch And Sundance kind of relationship where it is two guys talking shit to each other but a relationship is forming, a bond is forming and they are wise-cracking guys, they are also bad-ass guys. You know there were so many lines that I was improving with Jason, and Jason ‘s got the best sense of humour. He looks tough, and he is tough but I love cracking him up, so there is one line for example that he didn’t know that I was going to say. There is one line where I say ‘I am going to knock your teeth so far down your throat you are going to stick a toothbrush up your arse to brush ‘em’ and I could see his smile start and he is trying to stay in character and he completely busted out laughing… and I think that is in the movie. “

One of the things that fans of the franchise always look forward to every time another Fast & Furious film hits the cinemas is to see what incredible stunt the cast and crew have brought us this time around. In the past we’ve had cars jumping out of planes and cars jumping from high rise to high rise. The trailer hints at a pretty amazing stunt in The Fate Of The Furious that involves a torpedo and Johnson’s eyes light up as he gets to talk about it. “So there are moments in movies where you have to suspend your sense of disbelief,” he says gesturing with his hands. “That’s what we do when we go to movies and we love it, right? So when the torpedo idea was pitched to me it was like ‘okay so we are going to do something that has never been done before… with the character of Hobbs’ and I was like ‘okay tell me’ and then Chris Morgan tells me ‘you’re going to get out and then you’re going to grab hold of the door of the vehicle and then you’re going to be sliding on the ice going at 95 miles per hour and you’re going to re-direct a torpedo with your bare hand, not plural, not hands… HAND!’ And I said ‘so what do we do with it’ and he says ‘so you re-direct it to the bad guy’s car and you’re going to save the day. What do you think?’ And I said ‘ahhh… I f**king love it’ and we started high-fiving, me and Chris Morgan. Not at the absurdity of it and the coolness of it, but we start high-fiving in that audiences are going to crazy because they are having fun.”

The Fate Of The Furious hits Australian cinemas on 13th April and it will be reviewed at www.heavy.wpmudev.host

Written by Dave Griffiths

 

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