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About The Production
Family No More:

Production Begins

Furious 7 proved to be an emotionally charged culmination of the beloved franchise built on speed. Not only were the filmmakers and cast looking to pay homage to the legacy of Paul Walker, who was inarguably the heart of the films, but also to the very best of what The Fast and the Furious sparked in film audiences more than 15 years ago...and continues to do with another generation of fans.

Completing production of the film and then promoting it worldwide was both an exhausting and energizing labor of love for all involved. But with the end of an era came the inevitable questions of whether this was truly the finale of the beloved franchise.

Faced with the decision of whether to continue the saga, producers Neal H. Moritz and Vin Diesel, screenwriter Chris Morgan, Universal Pictures executives and the rest of the cast had to think long and hard about their next step together. The Fast family was in mourning, and, at the time, few could come up with a worthwhile reason to pick up the pieces and resume the collective saga. The outlaws of East Los Angeles' street racing underground had risen to infamy on the international stage pulling off daring high-stakes heists. While they had lost friends and gained enemies along the way...any new tale would ensure they would remain true to their roots.

Whatever happened, the filmmakers felt they would need to do something completely different if the series were to continue. When it was decided that the franchise still had more riveting stories to share, they opted to throw a curveball into the mix. The new direction would be an explosive turn of events destined to rock the dedicated fan base to its NOS-loving core. Since the beginning, the series' deep-seated theme of family has been entrenched in every film, and that fundamental tenet would be put to the test.

"I only wanted to continue the saga if we were going to collectively make the best final trilogy for ourselves, for the legacy of our brother Paul, and for Universal, who's been so supportive over the years," says Diesel, who has served as a producer on the series since Fast & Furious. "With Furious 7, our focus was to not only make the best film in the saga but to honor what it has represented for almost two decades. The key to this next chapter is to challenge those core themes that have endured, and to do it in a way that is compelling but still entertaining."

Screenwriter Chris Morgan, who returns for his sixth tour of duty with the franchise, this time joins Moritz, Diesel and Fottrell as producer. For the series architect who charts and crafts the interwoven multi-film story points, this arc would pose his biggest challenge; once Morgan delineated the team's ideas for the final trilogy, it would be a mind-blowing achievement.

"Recalls Morgan of the tipping point: "The Fate of the Furious is really about the after effects of a profound moment that threatens to shatter everything you believe in. What happens when the central figure of your family, the one who preached the lesson of never turning your back on each other, breaks those rules? What happens if he goes dark and his family has to take him on and stand against him? It's unique and, at times, a little scary. It's great drama for the franchise, and it gave us a reason to move forward in a compelling way."

It was an audacious premise and once Morgan, Moritz and Diesel blocked out the story points, they knew they could blaze down a new road with an original, high-octane tale while still maintaining the outlaw spirit that fans gravitate to time after time.

Remarks longtime franchise producer Moritz: "What always amazes me is how we're able to develop and maintain that blurred line between good guy and bad guy over the course of this series. We've allowed each of our characters, new and old alike, to grow in different directions. We never go into a new chapter with any preconceived notions of what they should do, and let each movie organically grow each of these characters. It has been satisfying to see how many different arenas we can enter and ways we can go with them. That's part of the fun for the audience: they love this cast of characters but are never sure exactly what's going to happen with them."

With each new installment in the series, Moritz and Diesel always want to keep fans on their toes and to allow them to be entertained by the unexpected. Finding a director with the ability to deliver on every level, while retaining the series' singular voice, has always been a prerequisite. Justin Lin set the groundwork for a memorable four-film run when he reinvigorated the franchise with Tokyo Drift, and James Wan did it with the record setting worldwide box-office juggernaut of Furious 7.

Enter F. Gary Gray, whose versatile filmography includes the critically acclaimed biopic Straight Outta Compton, the thriller The Negotiator, actioner The Italian Job and cult comedy classic Friday, among many others. One will see little similarities among these projects, and that's the way Gray likes it.

The director admits that he has long gravitated toward material that challenges him. When faced with the tempting offer of taking on one of Universal's biggest franchises, Gray was intrigued. Still, he dug a little deeper looking for that one thing, that hook, to inspire and push his limits. "Artists dig in more when they feel challenged, and this was a major challenge for me," he reflects. "I wanted to bring something different to the franchise, and it all starts with the story. This is completely different; it's nothing we've ever experienced in the Fast franchise."

The Fate of the Furious would allow Gray the opportunity to take a massive tentpole film and bring his singular approach to storytelling, eliciting performances and crafting narrative to deliver an unexpected experience on every level.

He was primed to take the series in a fascinating new direction. Not only did Gray come to the table with innovative ideas to ground the series, he also arrived on set sharing longstanding relationships with many of the Fast cast. The filmmaker had directed Diesel in A Man Apart, Statham and Theron in The Italian Job, and Johnson in Be Cool. Additionally, he knows Gibson and Bridges socially from entertainment industry functions, as well as his early days in the industry, when he directed music videos and TV commercials.

Diesel was very pleased to see the talented filmmaker join the Fast & Furious family. "I knew from A Man Apart what Gary could pull out in terms of a darker character. I knew he would be perfect," he commends. "Gary is a director who, first and foremost, focuses with exactitude on performance; that's why we have Oscar-winning actors in this film. We knew he was going to pay that much-needed attention to the nuances of performance that this chapter would call for."

Gray knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish when he first met with the producers to discuss The Fate of the Furious' signature tone and direction. "Dom Toretto is always about family, and with this storyline it's the absolute opposite of what you expect. I wanted to be a part of delivering not only this different story, but delivering a performance that you've never seen from the entire cast. Now we're able to explore this different realm of emotions with Dom going up against his family."

Trust No One:

All-Star Cast Returns

Like Diesel, Gray is all about strong character dynamics. The director made the point to do his own research, which translated into revisiting the whole franchise and checking in with the millions of rabid fans around the world who are vocal about their on-screen family...and who have no problem sharing those thoughts on a daily basis on social media. It was an eye-opener for Gray, but it got him more invested in the series and, in turn, deepened his focus to satisfy the savvy audience with his take on the next chapter.

He decided he would give equal time and importance to the small intimate story moments as he did with the big hyped up action beats. For Fast & Furious fans, most of those emotional beats almost always begin and end with the Dom-Letty love story.

Michelle Rodriguez, who originated the role of straight-shooting Letty Ortiz in 2001, has been a fierce proponent of keeping the couple's relationship as grounded and real as possible, especially with its tumultuous history. That relationship has been placed in jeopardy time and time again, most jarringly in Fast & Furious with her supposed death. But even in her absence, Letty's presence was just as strong, culminating in her on-screen resurrection as the coda of Fast Five and reconnection with Dom and her family of friends in Fast & Furious 6.

Their unconventional love story is a testament to the multi-layered films' staying power for close to two decades. "A woman's most powerful gift is love," reflects Rodriguez. "What's beautiful about Dom is that he only sees love's strength, and that's a testament to his character. It takes a certain type of guy to accept a really strong woman. But isn't that the beauty of love? You're so connected to that one person that the only thing that matters is what you both know to be true. What Vin and I try to convey with Letty and Dom is that, ultimately, the true message is this idealistic love drives people to fight for each other, to stay together tough times and to believe in each other."

After surviving the machinations that kept them separated for years, The Fate of the Furious finds Dom and Letty reunited and enjoying the laid back beauty of Cuba. But it is all about to disappear when a routine mission explodes and Dom betrays everyone he's loved...and has loved him.

Faced with incontrovertible evidence that Dom has joined forces with a cyber-terrorist, seeds of doubt sprout within the team and begin to splinter the now fragile bonds. Despite everything, Letty is the lone holdout who believes in Dom. A lifetime of love that has triumphed and evolved cannot be denied. "Letty is moving on faith for the entire movie," reflects Rodriguez. "She knows Dom, she knows how he's wired and what drives him; this is the toughest thing she's ever faced. Dom and Letty's relationship is born of an unconditional love that binds them to one another."

"The love is so deep between these two," adds Diesel, "and as bleak as the situation looks, Letty is going to fight for her matter what."

With seven box-office busting chapters of the Fast franchise under his belt, Moritz feels that the team's collective approach has given them an unbridled freedom to create revitalizing stories, and that means destroying what fans think they know. "The mythology that we've created, not only with each of the characters, but with the different worlds that the Fast franchise touches upon, has allowed us to go in so many different directions-literally and figuratively-with our characters to explore things we never thought we would explore to them. Relationships have been built and then disbanded, and that's what's so special about it. We have so many stories, and it's all about deciding which ones we're going to tell in each movie."

Beginning with Fast Five the filmmakers hit their stride by layering in new characters, whether for short or long terms storylines. They brought back franchise favorites Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Sung Kang and GAL GADOT, while introducing new cast members like Dwayne Johnson and Elsa Pataky.

This is also punctuated by Nathalie Emmanuel's genius hacktivist Ramsey, who created God's Eye-the prototype tracking device that fueled the Furious 7 plot line-Kurt Russell's disarming high-level government operative Mr. Nobody. Jason Statham would follow suit with his notorious introduction in the Fast & Furious 6 postscript, which left audiences gasping at the connection to Han's death in Tokyo Drift, and knowing the stage was set for Furious 7.

With the notion of family turned completely on its head, the filmmakers naturally felt obligated to delve into the unmined territory of several of the series characters' backgrounds. Audience members caught a rare glimpse of the man behind the trash talking badass when Hobbs' daughter, Samantha, appeared by his side in the hospital in Furious 7.

Morgan again worked closely with Dwayne Johnson to flesh out additional backstory for elite DSS agent Hobbs, the ultimate lawman whose own strict moral code has grown more flexible...thanks to the détente that he and Dom established years ago. Very few are able to pierce business-only Hobbs' veneer, but as the team earned his respect and trust, a burgeoning camaraderie grew.

For Hobbs, this is what makes Dom's actions in this chapter so unforgivable. Blindsided by Dom's betrayal during a covert mission in Berlin, Hobbs becomes collateral damage and is left to fend for himself. The U.S. government has now turned its back on one of its own, and Hobbs ends up serving his sentence in the same super-max prison where he previously deposited his former nemesis Deckard Shaw. No longer on the right side of the law himself, Hobbs begins to shed those layers that used to define him as the best of the best.

Johnson appreciated the opportunity for character growth that the new chapter gave him, especially the opportunity to spar-verbally and physically-with longtime pal Jason Statham. He explains: "With Hobbs, there are no handcuffs, and I love how he's been able to pierce the franchise. Since Fast Five, we've set up a foundation where he can say anything. Now, the story of this film gave Jason and me great liberty with where to go. We wanted to fully create this Butch-and-Sundance relationship that audiences are going to love. We have two wisecracking, badass guys talking shit to each other, but a bond is forming."

Always game to up his action quotient, Johnson welcomed the ideas that Morgan and the production team came up with for his character. "When Hobbs must give up his badge, that is a powerful moment. Still, the film puts Hobbs back in a position that is his sweet spot: the space of hunting people down," Johnson explains. And whether it is jumping out of buildings, off supermax prison catwalks or into frigid waters, Hobbs always get his man. "When you think of gargantuan submarines chasing us, cars being remote controlled and flying out of buildings, those are just two examples of next-level action here. We're giving fans a second dessert they didn't even know to expect."

For his part, Shaw, the laser-focused covert operative who relentlessly pursued Dom and the crew in Furious 7, has been biding his time in the a hidden facility where only the baddest of the bad are tossed. But with the arrival of Hobbs at supermax, the sentence has become a bit more tolerable.

Statham agrees with his fellow star: "Deckard's always got something up his sleeve, so it's great to have this continuing conflict with Hobbs. Dwayne and I get the opportunity to play around with this tension, which is a great vehicle for these two who really have this have that oil-and-water thing going on."

The layers of Shaw's back-story will also be peeled back to reveal more about the British operative who has his own staunch familial moral code, which eventually builds a begrudging, respect for his prey. Deckard's younger brother, Owen, played by Welsh actor LUKE EVANS, was introduced in Fast & Furious 6 as the first villain in the series who had the cunning and ability to be considered by Dom and the team as a true adversary. When Deckard last left his little brother, Owen was clinging to life in a hospital...thanks to the revenge of Dom.

For Hobbs and Shaw, Gray wanted to see the pair engage in verbal a precursor to the rematch of their explosive fight sequence from Furious 7. The ensuing Hobbs/Shaw no-holds-barred prison-wide brawl in The Fate of the Furious is the result of Mr. Nobody's ploy to break Hobbs out of supermax. What ensues is another dynamic action sequences that pits former adversaries against each other.

Explains Gray: "Hobbs and Shaw are both prisoners, but they are fighting for very different reasons and that's what makes this sequence so dynamic. What I love about it is that we showcase two different fighting styles. Jason has this cool, martial-arts, parkour style while Dwayne is just raw strength crushing everything and knocking dudes out. I love the contrast, not only in their motivations, but the contrasts in their styles of fighting. It's going to be a classic cinema moment."

Revisiting a character every two years is a luxury that many actors do not get in the film business but for Chris "Ludacris" Bridges who marks his fifth turn as the automotive and tech tactician Tej, it's a welcome sign when Morgan's newest script shows up. Gone is the afro and garage coveralls Tej sported when he made his debut as a hustler in Miami's illegal racing circuit in 2 Fast 2 Furious. These days he's upgraded his wardrobe, toys and tools of the trade with the best that money can buy.

"At this point I'm so heavily invested with Tej that anytime someone tells me what he should or shouldn't be doing, I take it personally. I always want him to continue to progress in every movie and not stay the same. So I take it all very seriously, from what he says to how he comes across on the screen. There's still so much to him that that people don't know about. The fact he stepped up as the tech-savvy member of the team has been a great transition for him."

With the return of Nathalie Emmanuel who made her franchise debut in Furious 7 as the brilliant hacker and God's Eye creator Ramsey, Tej again has his work wife to up his tech skills. The beautiful loner is now a more comfortable part of the team and has settled into her role alongside Tej, and has also built up her tech game now that she has unlimited resources.

But even as Letty is steadfast in her support of Dom, genius hacker Ramsey is the first to openly question where Dom's loyalty lies. "Ramsey hasn't had the history with Dom that the rest of the characters have," reflects Nathalie Emmanuel, who rocketed to fame on Game of Thrones as Missandei. "Although she's been welcomed into the family, at the same time she is logical. She is all about the zeroes and ones and doing the math to try to figure out from a logical point of view what happened. Also, Ramsey is not necessarily as emotional as they are, and is the only one that can ask that question 'Did he go rogue?'"

Tej and Ramsey's productive partnership has left Roman looking on from the sidelines...wheels turning as he tries to insert himself into the equation. Roman Pearce has consistently been the source of humor to balance out the high-octane action and drama that is the bedrock of the Fast series. No matter the situation, he is the first to eschew authority and speak his mind with his filter-free take on every situation; this always elicits the biggest audience laughs.

For Tyrese Gibson who reprises his role as the flashy Roman-childhood friend of Brian O'Conner who met up with the then-disgraced cop in 2 Fast 2 Furious in Miami-returning to the familiar faces and rhythms of the Fast set was wholeheartedly welcomed. Even the film's fractured storyline dynamic couldn't put a damper on Roman's enthusiasm.

During the days when Diesel wasn't in front of the screen with his teammates, Gibson's remedy to keep his Fast family connected was to erect an outdoor lounge area. There, fellow cast mates and guests could hang to listen to music, grab a bite to eat, watch television, celebrate a birthday or the end of grueling work week; Gibson's lounge was open to everyone.

It's simple, cites Gibson of the off screen interactions: "The Fast cast pride ourselves on not just promoting the film's family, but actually being a family. Personally, it's made all the difference in the world in my life; I'm just giving my family a place to relax and hang."

Spanish actress Elsa Pataky is back as Elena Neves, the Rio cop who fell for Dom, then became a fugitive on the lam, in Fast Five. Connecting over their shared losses she walks away from her life in Rio to build a new one with Dom in the Canary Islands. However, their idyllic life collapses with Letty's return. As devastated as she is, Elena knows that Dom needs to find out the truth about his soul mate.

She slowly rebuilds her life and joins Hobbs at DSS. Still, as resilient as Elena is she makes the decision to leave the agency and put some distance between herself and her complicated history with Dom.

Despite her character's story arc over the franchise, Pataky is a firm believer that the love Elena shared with Dom forever binds them. "The one true thing about Elena and Dom is that they will always be there for each other. Although they no longer share a romantic love, there is still love, respect and a history that is based on a true friendship. Despite what everyone else sees, Elena, like Letty, knows family is still the most important thing to Dom."

While Elena's loyalties will always remain on the side of who she loves...Mr. Nobody's loyalties still remain to be seen. The iconic performer Kurt Russell-whose character is back from an almost-certain death in the last film-takes great pleasure in the mischievous government spook who keeps everyone guessing.

"Coming in on Furious 7, I wanted to be able to create something that was a little bit different for this franchise," Russell explains. "You don't know much about Mr. Nobody, which I thought would be a fun invention for this serial approach. For now, he is proving to be a guy that the gang can trust. I don't know how long or if that will actually remain, but that's what is so fun about playing him. He takes everything as it comes and is very flippant about it all."


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