The filmmakers are always seeking to intertwine the sequences with interesting new characters, storylines and inevitable plot twists that fit into Morgan’s established chronology.
The Fate of the Furious continues the tradition of unexpected casting by introducing its audiences to Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, The Longest Ride), alongside Oscar-winners Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) and Helen Mirren (The Queen), who join the franchise for a ride of a lifetime.
When it came to developing another worthy villain who could make Dom betray his team, the filmmakers had an ace up their sleeves. Namely, the globally popular actress Charlize Theron, whose on screen cred alone would bring a new pedigreed threat to the team, while interweaving more of the plot twists that smack of the Fast franchise reveals.
Charlize Theron: Action Star
“We’ve always had this idea that we wanted one of our villains to be this amazing woman, and honestly we had our eye on Charlize Theron,” confesses Moritz. “We’ve been talking with her for a number of years about becoming part of the franchise, and when we came up with this idea for what her character could be, we went to her.”
For Theron, being courted to join one the world’s most beloved series was an exciting prospect. Add to that, she knew the role, the series’ first female villain—and perhaps its most lethal—would kick start a cataclysmic shift to the very core of the world the Fast & Furious cast and crew had created.
“What a great place to find yourself in, to not only be offered a great role in one of the greatest franchises ever, but to be the first female villain…that’s a real honor,” shares Theron. “Cipher is the real deal, too. At her core she is completely this rapacious, and that says a lot about a character. As an actor, there is something great about witnessing a character just coming in and taking what she wants…and doing it in a way that’s unexpected.”
Cipher is the ultimate puppet master, a legendary hacker known only by her exploits; it is her keystrokes and binary combinations that have long played an insidious role across the world stage. Her tactics and strategy are explosive and will leaves audiences guessing as they witness her cold and calculated machinations.
“A director wants someone who can not only look at the words on the page, but breathe life into a character, and brings things to it that you’ve never considered,” reflects Gray of one of the series’ newest cast members. “Charlize is amazing; there’s a gravitas and richness to her performance that’s never been seen before in a Fast villain. She’s an Oscar® winner for a reason.”
One of the more unexpected aspects of The Fate of the Furious is the thriller elements that are woven throughout material, which will keep audiences guessing. Placing two alphas like Cipher and Dom in one room will always yield crackling energy, but more so when the chemistry of the actors inhabiting them is just as palpable.
Says Gray of the pairing of Diesel and Theron: “When Cipher teams up with Dom, the chemistry between Vin and Charlize is absolutely electrifying. It was evident from their first scene together and continues to grow throughout this story. It’s definitely something you’d never seen before in this franchise, and I’m proud of that; audiences are going to get everything they want from The Fate of the Furious…and then some.”
Even Diesel, who has inhabited the role of Dom Toretto for almost two decades, was a little giddy to see a new dimension to his alter ego. He admits that he upped his game as an actor by going up against a talent actress who was a kindred spirit; they share an approach to character development.
“When Charlize and I first started working together, she commented on how well I must know Dom. I remember saying ‘I may know Dom but that is before Cipher, before she affects him. I don’t know the Dom that’s coming now,” he adds with a wry laugh, “that was the beginning of what we were about to create. I am so proud of this union. I’ve got to admit, when I watch Charlize and me on screen together, it is so powerful. I’m very proud of our work.”
For the new chapter, Theron’s fellow Academy Award winner, Dame Helen Mirren, was recruited to portray a pivotal role, one in which her character enters unto an uneasy alliance with Dom. Although she steps in to run interference, any agreements in the underworld are precarious and shift easily; the refined Brit who meets with Dom seems a little too comfortable amidst all the intrigue.
Mirren’s casting in The Fate of the Furious came about after the famed actress met Diesel at an Oscars® party in 2106. Admittedly a touch smitten by her co-star, Mirren discussed her love of driving fast cars and her nephew’s fondness for the Fast franchise. She gained familiarity with the series after their introduction and thought: “Work with Vin, drive a car? That sounds like the perfect job for me.”
Diesel played it cool but was beyond thrilled about his encounter with English royalty and got the ball rolling. He laughs that what Dame Mirren wants, Dame Mirren gets. In the aftermath, Diesel rallied the equally excited troops and got to work. He explains: “In one week’s time, Gary, Chris and I had written her character in. Ironically, her new role was a gift for us. She provided the connective tissue we belatedly realized was needed for our plot. To this day, one of my favorite moments of filming was sharing a scene with Helen Mirren.”
The result is a cocksure player whose steely reserve and intellect belie a deep well of familial protection. For her part, Mirren had no idea what to expect of the role, she was just happy to join the party. “I put my little yearnings out there in the universe, and I was offered a role,” she says with a smile. “I had no idea what to expect, but I would have just done anything. I was so pleased that they pried the script apart and found a little slot for me. It turned out to be a great role. My character is smart, strong and aware of her place in the world. To be my age in a huge action film movie with these guys, you’ve got to up your game if you want to go toe to toe with them; that’s what I wanted to communicate.”
Unfortunately, Mirren’s plum role in the action-thriller didn’t allow for her to get behind the wheel of fast car and drive, but as every Fast fan can attest to: opportunities always present themselves down the road ahead…
No longer the new kid on the block, Mirren’s fellow Brit, Nathalie Emmanuel, handed that mantle over to Scott Eastwood. The performer joins the ensemble as Eric Reisner, aka Little Nobody, protégé to Russell’s Mr. Nobody. Russell returns to the role of the mysterious but easygoing, Belgian beer-lovin’ CIA spook he began with in Furious 7.
As with Russell and Emmanuel, Eastwood easily found his footing among the cast that welcomed him with open arms. However, for both the entire returning team and Eastwood, his joining the ensemble held a much deeper emotional resonance. The actor also shared a close, longtime friendship with Paul Walker, which dates back to 2005 when the pair met on the set of Flags of our Fathers, directed by Scott’s father, Clint Eastwood.
Regardless of where it begins or ends, the importance of family has a crucial significance, one that consistently runs deep with our ensemble cast. Eastwood walks us through his thought process in joining: “Paul was like an older brother to me, so to even consider the role was definitely an emotionally charged decision. At the end of the day, I felt he would have wanted any of his boys to be a part of something that he was so proud of. That’s what made me feel good about the decision and once I got on set, I knew it was the right one.”
The Toretto code has a way of blurring the lines of black and white and punching through the toughest veneer. Even without Dom around, the effect still remains the same.
Once again, another dedicated, by-the-book government agent has entered the fray…confident they are on the right side of the law and can imprison, handle or stop Dom and the team like they would handle any other asset or fugitive. Not the case with undercover cop/FBI agent Brian O’Conner or DSS agent Hobbs, and certainly not the case with the skeptical agent Reisner, newly assigned to lead the team as they go after Dom and Cipher.
Eastwood is pragmatic about Little Nobody’s conversion, which comes about slowly—with some too-close-for-comfort encounters with the team. He says: “Some rules are meant to be broken, especially when you realize that the lines can get blurred between right and wrong. As an actor, you always want to explore human nature and those moral themes.”
Last but certainly not least, Norwegian actor KRISTOFER HIVJU, best known for his role of legendary wildling leader Tormund Giantsbane in HBO’s fantasy mega series Game of Thrones, rounds out the ensemble with his portrayal of Rhodes, Cipher’s brutal second lieutenant. Unfortunately for Rhodes, second-in-commands on the wrong side of the Toretto clan have a bad track record when it comes to crossing Dom…