“You are going to f‑‑‑ing love this movie.”
That’s the confident declaration Dwayne Johnson makes about his upcoming film Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw upon learning that he’s talking to a Fast super-fan. “I’m sharing this with you now because I know you’re such a big fan,” Johnson says to yours truly, who has seen Fast Five approximately 100 times. “There’s going to be some big, ‘Oh, holy sh‑‑, I did not see that coming’ moments.”
PHOTO: DANIEL SMITH/UNIVERSAL
DWAYNE JOHNSON: It’s been going great. We’ve been out here in London for about eight weeks now, and we’re wrapping up the London portion of the shoot.
With things like this, you put your best foot forward, you put your best team together, and you hope that things work out, but you never know, as with any production, how it works out, especially on location and when it has so many different variables involved with something of this size and magnitude.
We’re going to wrap this portion up in about a week, take the holiday down, and then we’re going to move the entire production to Hawaii, and that’s where we will close out the movie.
When you have a franchise that is as successful as the Fast & Furious franchise, the goal, certainly my goal, was always to try and create a scenario where we have as much longevity as we possibly can have.
And in that spirit, you have to evolve and you have to spin off and you have to create new characters and new stories, especially when you’re coming off Fast 8, where you have an eight at the end of your title.
[Laughs.] And while that one was wildly successful as well, we all collectively felt, myself, Jason Statham, the studio, all right, now’s the time, let’s make our move. So it’s been pretty surreal, but it’s also been a lot of fun and pretty exciting.
And it was in Fast 8, to get you an answer, it was finding it in Fast 8 that when Jason and I sat down early, before we started shooting, we thought, what if we had an opportunity here where we created two characters that were biting, yet would do it a winking way, that they actually enjoyed talking sh‑‑ to each other and in a really weird way enjoyed beating the sh‑‑ out of each other as well.
[Laughs.] And then afterwards, hey, let’s sit down and have a drink. And we recognized very quickly that we had this cool and unique bond. I’ve known Jason for a very long time, and we felt like, hey, let’s give this a shot. Let’s lean into the chemistry and let’s lean into some comedy and see where it goes.
And it was after Fast 8 came out that, as with everything, I rely on the audience’s feedback, and the audience feedback came back across the board that they loved the characters, they loved the chemistry. And in the wake of that, we sat down with Universal and said, “Okay, this is the right opportunity and this feels like the right creative inroad. Now let’s go make a great movie that the world will enjoy.”
Our goal with Idris to make him the baddest villain the franchise has ever seen. Coming in, he is undefeated. And for a guy who is undefeated, three men enter and either one man leaves or two leave.
And I say that respectfully because there have been so many bad guys who we’ve had over the years. But Idris is the perfect guy. Obviously, he’s a phenomenal actor, really brings a great weight and quality to the role — and a viability.
He’s a big man and he’s a legitimate badass and a legitimate martial artist. I’ll tell you this, the past 10 days have been the finale; we’ve been shooting the big main event between us and Brixton. We’ve been fighting and it’s been pretty badass and painful, but great.
And then enters David Leitch. He just did the new Deadpool and John Wick and Atomic Blonde, so you can see the stylistic approach that David has, and he really just stepped up to the plate and took great ownership of this spin-off. Immediately, our goals were aligned. I met David almost two years ago and we were sitting down and talking about this and his goal was to evolve the franchise.
Still have the spirit of Fast & Furious, but how can it be different? And how can we also make something for the fans stylistically that they’ve never seen, but also really root it in character? He’s really been delivering, and if his past movies are an example of what he’s been doing, wait until you see this one. And we are hopefully, fingers crossed, creating characters in this movie where they can all at some point in the future spin off. That’s the goal.
Obviously this film is connected to the franchise by the presence of you and Jason, but should we expect there to be other elements — or people — linking the film to the greater Fast universe?
If the goal is to deliver something that is evolved, entertaining, and creates some “holy sh‑‑” moments, I think we’ve delivered as it relates to your question. Let me back up, because I think it’s a great question and such an important one.
As excited as we all are about shooting this franchise and creating something that is awesome for the fans, it was also imperative — not only to me, but to Jason, David, the entire cast — that we still maintained the core values of what has made Fast & Furious such a beloved franchise.
And those core values are a code of honor, a ride-or-die spirit, and above all else, family comes before anything. So I do think we delivered on that. Again, it was very, very important to us. Because this is now four Fast movies that I’ve done, so I understand the power of that, because it’s ingrained in my DNA.