The tenth entry of the highest octane franchise, Fast X, marks the beginning of the end for the Fast Family. As we near the end of the road, director Louis Leterrier spoke with Collider’s Steve Weintraub about taking the wheel and guiding this now-iconic series to its bittersweet conclusion.
In Fast X, the first part of a two-part ending, Leterrier lends his expertise to Vin Diesel’s onscreen family as they face off against a formidable foe, Jason Momoa’s Dante. This scorned son is looking to avenge his father’s death by taking what Dom Toretto treasures most in life. Being the penultimate film in the franchise, taking the reins “terrified” Leterrier, he tells Weintraub, adding that, “if you fail, your name is attached, you’re the guy who killed the Fast & Furious franchise.”
Before Fast X races into theaters on May 19, check out Leterrier’s interview below to find out why we’re pretty convinced he won’t go down as the guy who killed the Fast movies. During their conversation, Leterrier tells Weintraub why his first instinct was to turn down the director’s chair, why he rewrote the third act, and how he decided who would live and who would die. They discuss Fast: Resurrection, time travel, knowing how it all ends, and tons more!
COLLIDER: You won’t remember this; I did a set visit on Clash of the Titans.
LOUIS LETERRIER: No, I know you, I remember you very well. I saw you, you were at the [John Wick: Chapter 4] premiere, right? I saw you from afar, and I was like, “Oh, I wanna say hi to Steve,” and then there was like a sea of humanity and I couldn’t say hi. Good to see you. I like the DeLorean behind you, did you see the little homage?
Oh, sir, it’s on my list of questions, but let’s just start with it. Obviously I was floored to see the DeLorean prototype in the movie. You have to talk about how that ended up in the film, and was it tough to pull off?
LETERRIER: Tough to pull off, yes. It ended up in the movie because – I don’t know if you remember, maybe you didn’t follow, but at one point there was a leaked image of the Cannon car that went on the internet, and then people went crazy, and they thought that after going to space, we’re going to do time travel. [Laughs] So like, after space travel was going to be time travel. And then I was like, “Oh, I will have people go crazy by having the DeLorean pull up with shoes that look like futuristic shoes come out,” and then I was like, “Oh yeah, let’s have fun with it all.”
I want to specifically know, how tough was it to actually get the car in the movie? What kind of hoop did you have to jump through?
LETERRIER: I mean, it’s Fast & Furious, so, you know, it’s the car movie. You have to call a few people. The DeLorean is complex, it’s finding who are the right– there’s like two DeLorean companies, so we got the one and it was great. That car is gonna be amazing, it’ll be absolutely amazing. It was incredible. That street, you know, the street in downtown L.A., when we parked all these cars it was a museum of incredible cars. Even the Petersen Museum didn’t have as many amazing cars, between the Pagani and then the Hellcat, the electric Hellcat, and then the DeLorean pulling in. I was like, “Ahh, I’m having fun today.”
I have so many questions for that, but I have a million things for you. So, you came onto this project when the freight train was moving, and I’m just curious, I know you’re a big fan of the franchise, but did you debate taking the job just because the freight train was moving so far and so fast, and your name is gonna be attached to it regardless?
LETERRIER: That’s exactly right. And people are like, “But it’s fine because, at the end of the day, you tried your best.” I was like, “No.” Because if you fail, your name is attached, you’re the guy who killed the Fast & Furious franchise, you know? There’s no poster that says, “Well, we didn’t have the budget so the movie is not as good. The schedule was bad, the weather was horrible.” No one cares. They judge you.
So that was the thing, and that really is why, Steve, I said no in the beginning. At first I said, “Yes, of course!” And then after, I was like – as much as I loved the script that I had read, and meeting these people – I was like, terrified. So I was about to say no, and my wife was like, “No, you’re doing it, you’re doing it!”
So you agree to do it, you’re flying to the set, you have a script – I read that you rewrote stuff – how much did you actually rewrite from the script versus what you were presented?
LETERRIER: Justin [Lin] and Dan Mazeau’s script was great, it really, really was great. The trick was that right before I got on the plane, they called me and were like, “Oh, one more thing, we lost our location for the third act, so we have to rethink the whole third act on top of everything.” So that was my job. It’s kind of like, you know, that’s my job as a director is just to, as you say, keep the freight train rolling. But also, as you come on set and you look and you interact with the people and everything, little stuff needs to happen, and then that’s what we do. Then Dan was always still there and we were writing together, but yeah, there was stuff that needed to be done.
Also, it was hard for me to sort of just treat it as one single movie because, as you saw, it’s not conceived as one movie. So I had to go a little bit further into the story to understand what this movie was about. So, there was some deep writing that was happening, and then some seed-planting that needed to happen on this one.
That’s actually something I wanted to bring up with you because this is essentially Part 1 of a two-parter. Vin said that the next one is called Fast X Part 2. Is that the title or is that just what he said at CinemaCon?
LETERRIER: I don’t know if it’s the title, but yeah we call it Part 2 because, it’s like, we don’t call it Fast 11. I mean, I don’t know, some people call it Fast 11. Also, I don’t know if I say Fast 10 or Fast X. [Laughs] We’re very confused about these titles.
Oh, it’s really terrible when you run a website, and you need to write a title, and you’re not exactly sure what it’s gonna be.
LETERRIER: Well, what do you think? I’m asking this a friend, do you think we should call it Part 2 knowing that there’s a real– or should we call it…? I think we should really call it Part B or Part 2, or, you know, Chapter 2, or something, because it really feels like the continuation of that story. Like this is like a hyphen.
Sure, I’m gonna say two things; I think that you could easily call it Fast X Part 2, or you come up with a title that’s like the last title, and it’s like you come up with something cool that’s, like Fast– I don’t know. But if you come up with something cool that’s clearly the last of the franchise, then I also think that can work.
LETERRIER: I think we should call it Fast: Resurrection. There’s always a moment in a franchise where they call it Resurrection. It’s always the worst one [laughs], and I’m always always involved in it! No, it’s true, you know, we’ll figure it out. Ultimately, at one point, the title matters because you need to search for it, and everything. What I love about Fast is that they check in. No one goes like, “Oh Fast Five, yes, absolutely. Which one was that? It’s the real one. Exactly.”
My favorite ones are the Japanese titles because it’s like Wild Speed. This one is [Wild Speed: Fire Boost]. The other one was like [Sky Mission], or something like this. I’m like, “Yeah, I understand what you’re talking about.” Safe Heist? I think there was one called Real Heist.
I forgot about the other names in other territories. But Jason Momoa is a badass in this movie, and he’s three steps ahead. So I do want to know, how much were you already thinking about the next movie in terms of setting up how the guys can actually win, and thinking about that? Because let’s be honest, I don’t see Jason winning in the end. This is a Fast & Furious movie. So I’m just curious, how much are you already thinking about that when you were making this, and how much is it, “Let’s just do this and we’ll figure out the next one and the next one?”
LETERRIER: Very much so. The moment I read the script, how it unfolded and how it was like a reverse Fast & Furious, I asked that question. Then we started talking about it, and then, you know, I didn’t know I was going to do the next one, but it was very important for me, in order to plant the right seeds, to know where it was going. So that’s what we had to come up with, where it all ends.
What I can tell you is that we know exactly where the franchise ends today. We know where we’re ending. The roads we’re going to take are going to be different, but we know where it all ends, and I know as a fan it’s both sort of satisfying and truly surprising. As you know, fan service is tricky because you want to deliver the right thing, but you wanna surprise the people, you don’t want to give them exactly what you know everybody’s expecting the Fast & Furious franchise, where it’s going to end up.
So because we had that, and we identified that, then we were able to go back and then plant the seeds. And if you look at Fast X, so many things that are being said, so many moments that are being shown, are prepping you for that, for the very end.
Vin told me a while ago – I don’t know when it was maybe it was the last Fast movie – that he knew the last scene. I’m curious if it’s still that scene that he hinted at.
LETERRIER: Yeah, I mean, it’s evolving, but yeah, absolutely. I think it’s evolved a bit, but I think that it is the same that Vin has had in mind for a long time.
I’m obsessed with the editing process because it all comes together in the editing room. The movie is like two hours and 20 minutes, did you have a much longer cut? How did it change in the editing room?
LETERRIER: It’s the longest cut to date. My director’s cut was shorter than this cut, so we sort of added to it with surprises and stuff. There’s half a scene left on the cutting room floor. Everything you’re seeing is in the movie and we didn’t reshoot anything. We picked up some close-ups of like a knife coming out, or stuff like that, like insert stuff. But everything else shot were surprises. There were no reshoots. The script was really in a great, great shape when I picked it up, so I was able to sort of add to it, and then we had a great movie very early on.
Since you’re obsessed with the editing process, you know a director’s cut kind of takes 10 weeks to do this? Our amazing editing team did it in four-and-a-half weeks, five weeks. Five weeks in, we were able to show the movie, but that was necessary because we had a 25-week post. As per usual, there’s a release date before this. [Laughs]
100%. So this is not a spoiler question, but I want to know; when I saw it there was no post-credits scene or scenes, and I’m curious, when the movie comes out, will the film have a post-credits scene or scenes?
LETERRIER: I cannot tell you.
I don’t need to know what the scene is, I’m just curious.
LETERRIER: Yeah, exactly. So, you won’t know the scene, but yeah, as I said, we’re gearing towards the end. So we want to satisfy the audience as much as possible.
Yeah, I would be really surprised if this film does not have a post-credits scene when it hits theaters.
LETERRIER: You saw the version with the credits, right?
Yeah, but there was nothing at the end of the credits. So I was like, “Oh, okay.”
LETERRIER: You’ll see. [Laughs]
How did you decide who would live, and who wouldn’t in this movie? And did it change as you were shooting or were those decisions made early on?
LETERRIER: The actors had to write letters to beg me to keep their characters alive, and I deemed them worthy. No, spoiler-free obviously, but some some were written in the script and then some– Let’s say that, you know, because I went deeper than this one movie, I saw further, and I was like, “Oh, I know what I want.” And there’s some actions and hard, harsh decisions I had to make because I knew what was coming in the next movie.
There is a very cool shot, I believe it is the quarter mile race in Rio, where the camera is doing some pretty cool things. Was that the hardest shot to pull off in the movie, and if it wasn’t that, what was?
LETERRIER: No, these shots are not very hard to pull off. I mean, you just have to come up with them and then come up with the technology. The things with these shots, we have to, because I like to shoot stuff for real as much as I can and these shots– are you talking about the one coming through all the cars?
LETERRIER: So you had to create stuff that never existed; you know, cameras, grip equipment, because that’s one single shot, there’s no crane that can do that, and then the actors did that. So we had to create this idea with [Stephen Windon], he’s the DP, and his technical team we came up with the pieces of equipment, like we all pitched in. And then there’s some other shot where we’re going back to the right – you know, you saw the right shot.
I like using technology. I like sort of breaking down technology, so we go back to the basics. Like I like to look at what exists now and then go back to 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, when I started. I was like, “Oh, I wish I had this equipment to do this thing.” Now we have this thing, let’s see how we can use that and not use a computer to do these shots and use technical equipment. So do shots that we couldn’t do 10 years ago, and we use computers to do those shots, but do them practically now because the equipment exists, the cameras are smaller, they’re better.
Fast X takes over theaters on May 19.