Fast & Furious 6: Newcomers

Bad Boys and Badder Girls:

Joining such a tight-knit community of cast and crew can be a daunting experience. Just as Hobbs gets a new second-in-command, Dom has a fresh adversary in Fast & Furious 6: Owen Shaw.

Looking to shake things up once again, director Justin Lin wanted to delve into new challenges to push Dom and the team into an arena where the stakes are exponentially higher. Along with Morgan and Diesel, Lin kept returning to the themes of family and loyalty that Dom holds so dear. It’s here that they decided to introduce an adversary whose philosophy was diametrically opposed to our heroes.

As brilliant as he is lethal, Owen Shaw is a former soldier of the British Special Air Services (SAS), the elite special forces unit of the British army. Eschewing his noble past, Shaw has assembled a team of highly skilled mercenaries who are behind a string of high-profile robberies of new technology that could fetch billions on the black market. Indeed, he’s the baddest of the bad.

Lin describes how Shaw fits into this endgame: “One of my big reasons to come back and do another one was to truly have an antagonist that’s worthy of Dominic Toretto. With Fast & Furious 6, I wanted to take a different tack and create an antagonist that had the opposite philosophy to Dom. Dom often goes with trusting his gut, whereas Shaw is more about the analytics where there is no room for weakness. Being able to truly develop that aspect of the ‘team versus team’ idea was worth coming back for.”

When he meets Shaw, Dom quickly realizes that he is a cunning machine of efficiency and has a lock on what makes him tick. Shaw states unequivocally that Dom’s notion of family is his weakness and will be his downfall, especially when he exploits it to get what he wants. It’s a powerful ploy said with confidence when standing inches from the burly Dom. The meeting provides Dom with the knowledge of who he is dealing with and what his team is up against.

Played with a polished steely veneer by Welsh actor Luke Evans, Shaw joins this installment as a villain unlike any other that Dom, Brian and the team have ever encountered. Evans’ introduction proved to be a double-edged sword. Although it was good for the character’s sake, Evans did not have an opportunity to formally meet most principal cast members prior to his first day of filming. Evans’ first scene of the day was a tense confrontation that had the whole team staring down a handcuffed Shaw who, despite being in the weaker position, oozes ruthless confidence. As an actor, this was an optimal situation that could wholly inform the scene, but as the new guy on set, it was a bit disconcerting.

Evans, an established stage actor on London’s West End, is a relative newcomer to feature films and has over the last several years appeared in a number of high-profile films, including Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit series. He was filming on location in New Zealand when he got the call from Lin to discuss joining the ensemble cast.

For Evans, it was a no-brainer. He was a big fan of the franchise and relished the opportunity to play a good guy gone bad who has made an enemy of Hobbs and will go head-to-head with Dom. Says the actor: “There’s never been an archetypal villain like Shaw in the Fast series. He’s incredibly threatening to Dom and the family that audiences have grown up with over the years, and that’s exciting to play. You know you’ve got something great with the script, and then Justin decides to crank it up one more speed and add another dimension. It’s exciting to be a part of this evolution.”

Under Lin’s direction, the franchise has continued to eclipse its predecessors. The cast believes it’s due to Lin’s attention to detail when it comes to character development and executing complicated stunt sequences. Evans embraced his director’s focus on the nuances, delving into the narrative and character motivations. He says: “On a daily basis, Justin and I spoke about Shaw. Sometimes, just small physical moments and certain looks, but also what’s going on in the back of his mind, which Justin is very good about reminding you. That’s why he’s fantastic, because he’s able to deal with these humongous stunt sequences but he’s also thinking about what’s going on in a character’s head. He puts it all on a plate, and all you have to do is eat it up.”

Shaw’s team proves to be the evil doppelgangers to Hobbs, Dom and Brian’s crew. They are so evenly matched in technical know-how, close combat, weapons and driving skills, that it’s a fight to the finish when they square off. Shaw always seems to be a step ahead of Hobbs and Dom and keeps them confounded. This matchup became an aspect of the plot that Moritz felt was essential to raise the stakes. “It’s not just a clean win for our guys,” states the producer. “There are a number of times when Shaw’s guys get the best of the team and leave them bewildered. Shaw outsmarts them at every turn, and they have to work for it as it becomes much more of a cat-and-mouse game.”

Completing Shaw’s group of elite racers, in addition to Rodriguez’s Letty, is a diverse international cast of actors. They include Indonesian martial-arts phenom JOE TASLIM as Jah; Danish actors Kim Kold as the 6’4″, 310 lb. Klaus and THURE LINDHARDT as Firuz; African actor SAMUEL STEWART as Denlinger; and British performers CLARA PAGET, BENJAMIN DAVIES, MATTHEW STIRLING and DAVID AJALA as, respectively, Vegh, Adolfson, Oakes and Ivory.

For a film about illegal street racing, the filmmakers knew that a full-scale, whiplash-inducing racing scene needed to be included in one of the four set pieces they envisioned for the film. That scene, scripted as the “team vs. team” sequence, would be our introduction to Shaw and his crew, with their deadly toys and deadlier driving. An explosion kicks the sequence into high gear as Dom and the team—in freshly government-issued high-performance BMW M5s—try to intercept and capture their nemeses. Precision driving, firefights and the introduction of the FLIP CAR make the team realize that the job won’t be so easy after all.

Bridges sums up the deadly rivalry best: “This is definitely one of the times that the team realizes they have met their match, which is why this movie is probably going to be just as good, or dare I say even better than Fast Five.”

Gina Carano

For mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano, the role of Riley, Hobbs’ disciplined second-in-command, is a perfect synergy of her skill set, one she honed during her breakthrough film, Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. Notes Carano: “Riley is very quiet yet mighty and strong, and that’s a good role for me to take on in my second film. It’s been fun because she gets to sit back and observe what is going on, but at the same time there’s power in being quiet and in the background. Those are always the people I’m looking at, so it was cool to play that type of character.”

Carano admits that working so closely with Johnson was inspiring. His transition from professional wrestler to actor is an accomplishment she respects and with which she identifies. Johnson is equally enthusiastic of his co-star, commending: “Gina is everything that Riley is. Not only is she beautiful, but she can kick ass. She brings an authenticity to that role that is hard to find in Hollywood.” With his infamous grin, Johnson adds: “You know what else she brings to the table? She’s been in the octagon and had these amazing fights in women’s MMA.”

Evans, Carano and the rest of the new cast were welcomed with open arms and made to feel like part of the family. Based upon the sheer quantity of hilarious videos, behind-the-scenes photos and running commentary the cast shared online with fans over the four-month shoot abroad, an off-screen bond occurred among the returning actors and new members. Excited fans around the world were able to get a unique and unfiltered look at the group as they laughed their way through frosty night shoots or relaxed (read: nursed bruises) at the communal lounge area outside of their trailers.