FAST 7 hits theaters at the end of the week and in order to rev up the hype train (can those rev up?) ScreenRelish is providing a quick way to catch up on the franchise with short bios of the characters and the actors that play them. For a series that didn’t seem like it had staying power, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS has become a tentpole event franchise to be reckoned with.
Name: Tyrese Gibson
It may not mean the same thing as it once did, but technically Tyrese Gibson is a triple-threat. He has a platinum-selling album, is part of a Hollywood mega-franchise (two if you regard TRANSFORMERS, which nobody should really) and has modeled for Tommy Hilfiger and Guess – I’m using modeling as the third pillar, though I’m confident Tyrese can hold his own on the dancefloor. His first big screen debut was John Singleton’s BABY BOY. Apparently the two had some kind of chemistry because it was Singleton who also took the reins on 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, bringing Tyrese along with him. Though involved with some modestly successful movies over the years, including FOUR BROTHERS and FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, Tyrese has been lucky enough to have THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS as a consistent entity. Though not a stranger to other roles, it will be interesting to see where Tyrese lands when the inevitability of FAST & FURIOUS having its “one last ride.”
Character: Roman Pearce
Introduced to the pre-franchise FAST & FURIOUS world, Roman Pearce was the replacement Dom in both story and lack of interest on Diesel’s part (who opted instead to work on CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK). The role of Roman fit well into the mythos, however, and he eventually became a returning player in the events of the Toretto/O’Conner family. That isn’t to say Roman was on board from the start, he held quite the grudge towards O’Conner for essentially landing him in jail. The wound is still fresh as Roman is still technically under house arrest, even if it happens to be a mobile home parked on a destruction derby course. O’Conner convinces Roman to help him take out a drug lord in exchange for their exoneration of past crimes. At first big-mouthed Roman is almost more trouble than he’s worth, but in the end they pull together and accomplish their mission, resulting in both being free men. Separated for a time the two reunite under O’Conner’s need for good trusted drivers to get revenge on a Brazilian drug lord and make millions as an added bonus. Even though he’s usually a bit of a goofball, Roman is loyal to his friends and has continued to show up whenever he’s needed to help in any way that he can.
First FAST AND FURIOUS Appearance: 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS as the spiritual replacement for a missing Toretto. They did the best they could to tie it into the overall narrative of the movie and eventually franchise, so all is forgiven.
Franchise Legacy: Roman has appeared in just over half of the series’ entries since his debut, starting with 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS and then returning in FAST FIVE. Since then he has been a mainstay of the franchise.
Best FAST AND FURIOUS Moment: Roman’s best moments are when he plays up his extreme sense of entitlement. Second to that is when he lets his ghetto-side shine. The scene in FAST & FURIOUS 6 involving the vending machine was, in my opinion, priceless. It ties all of Roman’s personality traits into a neat little package.
Name: Chris “Ludacris” Bridges
Once a simple radio disc jockey, then a multi-platinum selling hip hop artist, and now a relatively successful actor, Chris Bridges – or Ludacris if you prefer – has managed to make best of the entertainment he chooses to take part in. Garnering much, if not all, of his international fame from music, Ludacris is a staple in hip hop music fifteen years running with his debut album “Back for the First Time.” His first role or two definitely fall into the category of stunt-casting, but he was given a shot by writer/director John Singleton, no stranger to casting rappers in leading roles, very early on in his acting career with 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS. Follow-up appearance in CRASH and HUSTLE & FLOW didn’t hurt either. Though he may not be the star of the show in his acting pursuits, his screen presence ads to any of the projects he takes part in.
Once and always a man who likes to get his hands dirty. Whether it’s tuning cars, breaking into vaults, hacking cell towers or improving on a harpoon-gun’s design, Tej is the go-to member of the family for all things tech. Introduced as a mere mechanic and purveyor of illegal racing of every kind, Tej has evolved to be a bit more savvy and useful to the team (honestly, aren’t they all mechanics?) Tej has provided the team with the knowledge and often capabilities to get the job done, so much that he can be considered the lynchpin to all of their recent successes. Seriously. He figured out the safe, created the harpoongun capable of taking down a jumbo jet, hacked into cell towers to save Mia’s life…take him out specifically and the family would be in a very different place going into FURIOUS 7.
First FAST AND FURIOUS Appearance: 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS (there’s a reason I put these two entries together)
Franchise Legacy: Same as Tyrese, Bridges has appeared in four of the seven, only absent from the location-based TOKYO DRIFT and soft-reset entry FAST & FURIOUS.
Best FAST AND FURIOUS Moment: He’s had a few good ones. Trailer-worthy was of course the “Uh guys, we got to come up with a different plan…they got a tank.” A more robust scene from the same movie (FAST & FURIOUS 6) involves Ludacris and The Rock acquiring some cars for the team, more specifically the interaction with the auction organizer at time of delivery. Beyond these two stand-out moments, Bridges tends to shine best when paired up with Tyrese, as their two characters have a very natural-feeling rivalry ever since their first outing.
FURIOUS 7 opens in theaters April 3rd in the US and UK
Check out the ScreenRelish review here