Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
Vin Diesel’s brawling, macho, testosterone-fueled character, Dominic Toretto, in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS may live his life “a quarter mile at a time,” but that hasn’t stopped the actor from seeing the bigger picture when it comes to his career choices like being part of growing ensemble in a massively successful series. The turbo-charged FAST franchise is now in its second decade of worldwide domination. However, hardly any of the filmmakers or actors anticipated the legs these films would have at the box office – except for one person, Paul Walker, who played Dom’s best friend Brian O’Conner, until his death in 2013.
Speaking to reporters in the virtual press conference for F9, the affable actor reflected on his 20 year journey making these beloved sequels, crediting the fans with their support.
“It’s a very special and unique thing to have an audience see your movie and as they’re walking out of the theater, to go to the ticket booth to try to get a ticket to the next movie that isn’t even made yet. That’s a testament to how attuned the fans are.”
There, of course, have been many highlights being a part of the FAST saga, like welcoming cast members into the fold, whose careers have gone on to skyrocket. However, they’ve also experienced devastating lows, such as when they lost star Paul Walker 8 years ago in a car accident. Diesel explained,
“Obviously, the biggest setback was the loss of my brother in the middle of filming. I felt like my brother was ripped away from life and the planet. I don’t know if I’m every going to be able to articulate it right. It is clearly the thing that’s been the biggest tragedy of my life and the biggest life altering moment.”
He remembered a special time the dynamic duo shared before the success of the first film hit, which led to Walker prophesizing what was to come.
“I’ll never forget being in an airport in Mexico. The movie hadn’t come out yet. It was maybe April of 2001. Paul and I were sitting on the floor with our bags to the side about to board a commercial flight back home. We had just flew down there for the MTV Spring Break [event].
I remember him leaning over to me saying, ‘Take all this in.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Take in the fact that people are walking over our legs, almost kicking our bags and not paying any attention to us.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Because after this film comes out, there too will go our anonymity.’ I think that is telling of this journey that we were about to go on. Ironically, for me, when people ask about the memories, my memories are just the ones you see [in] the films, because everything behind the scenes continues to what you see [on screen].’
One thing that hasn’t changed for Diesel, according to him, is his positive outlook on life.
“The fact that as an artist it’s imperative to maintain a child-like sense of wonder. The older I get, the more I want to protect my child-like sense of wonder.”
What counts for the longevity of the dual decade-spanning franchise is the inclusive nature of the on-going narrative. The leading man said,
“The number one reason is because THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS has always been that movie that you can watch anywhere in the world and feel like you belong in Torretto’s backyard at that BBQ table.”
F9 is now playing in some overseas territories. It opens in the United States on June 25.