Filmmaker Justin Lin and I had a bit of a chinwag about the latest in the “Fast and the Furious” series which he, as well as the two previous instalments, directed. “Fast and the Furious 5” hits DVD and Blu-ray today. In this fun little one-on-one we discuss how the franchise has evolved, why it was vital Vin Diesel return to the series, and touch on another popular film franchise that Lin now has his hand in – “Terminator”.
Mate, these “Fast and Furious” movies are incredible, they’re fantastic. They’re really are. I’m gonna say that honestly. They’re great fun.
Thank you very much.
You must be over the moon about the success of the..especially this latest one.
It’s been good to be a part of something and help it grow and evolve. And I think, the best part of it is when we’re traveling around the world with it to all the premiers and just being able to hang out with the people who really embrace this franchise, that’s always the best part.
Yeah. It’s good to see a film that’s not 3D doing so well too.
[chuckle] Yeah, that’s always… It was interesting because that came up on the last two movies. And I felt like it was a fight worth having to not make it 3D because, I think at this point, unless you’re Peter Jackson or James Cameron, to do 3D right, it’s just… It takes a lot. And everything else is just kind of trying to sell more tickets and I think that’s just not right to treat the fans that way.
No, no. I agree, I agree. And in terms of… I mean when you came on… You did Tokyo Drift and after Tokyo Drift, was it automatically assumed that you’d do a sequel to that with Lucas Black or…
No, actually the thing on Tokyo Drift was interesting was that I had just done… I was just kind of living in the indie film world and when I was approached, I actually didn’t really want… I didn’t want to do Tokyo Drift the way that the script came to me. And I had a great conversation with the head of the Universal at the time and she was great because she said, “Look, you can do whatever you want, but you only have two months to figure it out.” And to me, the exercise of third one was the most important thing to task fourth and fifth exist, which was to really be an exercise in sensibility shift and to be able to thematically link everything and to create this linkage to this universe. And once that was successful, it allowed us to have the opportunity to do Four, and that’s when we’re able to start building it into kind of potentially in a trilogy.
And so this Fast Five is the second part of the trilogy?
That, you know, you don’t… I think doing these films, sequels are always earned. It’s not for sure. So when we… When Vin, and me, and Chris, when we’re all together, we do plant seeds for stuff and you hope that you’re embraced by the fans and they want to see more. And so, after Four, it was evident that they wanted to go on the journey with these characters again, so we had laid the seeds for Five. And so there’s still some stuff that we’ve laid down for another adventure and looks like it’s going to happen.
That’s great. You wanted everyone back for this latest one, is that right? You know you just…
You had the old team back again?
I think it’s important. I think the one thing that sometimes think… The relationship that the audience has with the characters, sometimes that it’s taken for granted. But, for me, I think that’s the heart of any good franchise is that relationship and I felt like it was important to bring everybody back because thematically, aside from all the fast cars, the beautiful women and all that stuff, I think at the core of this franchise, what makes it run is this theme of family, explored in an untraditional sense. To do that, I think, I wanted to literally bring all the family members back and to really kind of see how they’re all connected.
That’s right. And it’s great that you’ve been able to use Han from Tokyo Drift because of course this guy died, didn’t he, in Tokyo Drift and…
[chuckle] Well, it’s interesting because the… What I love is that everyone in these films I’ve done have been very different and that’s why it’s a good testament to Universal. The fact that a lot of times when you make sequels, people tend to get conservative, studios get conservative and they say while we worked on the first one, just do the same thing over and over. But I think the thing that’s been fun about being part of this franchise is to be able to have it evolved and not do the same movie over and over and to really grow with the characters. And to that end, I think Han, the character in Tokyo Drift that was always kind of… I wanted to design that as part of this universe, but as a post-modern take, that had a thematic link. So Tokyo Drift is that one that will always kind of be at the very end of this franchise.
Yeah, okay. And is this sixth film or it’s Fast and Furious Six, Fast Six or whatever you got to call it, is that going to be the next for you or…
I’m not sure yet. This is something that I always have to go to the checklist of reasons to do it, to do any of the film. But especially for this, I think we’ve really climbed this mountain and I think the audience… We’ve earned this very intimate relationship, they embrace Fast Five. And so I think to do Fast Six, you have to have the right reasons, and until I can fully find all those things, I can’t commit yet.
But I’m very fortunate. I’m in a position now where I have many choices, anything from Big Temples all the way down to little tiny indie movies. So, I’m just having a good time, just developing, working on stories. So, it might be but it’s a little too early right now.
Okay. And you’re doing the Terminator movie? Is that a sure thing or…
Well, again, it’s gone through a change in ownership and I have a very clear idea because I’m a huge… There’s huge part of my life when I was a kid, I love that franchise and I have a very clear idea of what… If they’re going to do another one what that would be. And also, I think the other element that’s necessary is to really find the right group of people to execute that.
So again, I have my criteria set and if it’s not right, I shouldn’t make it. I think a lot of the stuff has been very good, we’ll see how everything fleshes out on that end too.
Have you spoken to Arnold or anyone associated with the Terminator series?
Yeah. Megan [Ellison]’s been great and I sit down and talk to Arnold and stuff and we’ll have to see. I mean it’s very early on. There’s no script or anything like that.
No script? No.
But it’s actually really good to be able to kind of articulate, and someone like Arnold obviously such… He’s so integral to do the franchise, to be able to have that kind of this close with him also.
In some respect it was like, just seeing Arnold at the end of the last one, the last 5 seconds, even though he was a computer generated version of, people were excited the same way they saw Vin at the end of Tokyo Drift. It kind of reminded, you know, reminded everyone this is the guy, this is the franchise king.
Yeah, exactly. And I think that you know if the right version, if you go back to the thematic drives of the first one especially, I think that’s a way to be able to reengage with that franchise.
And there’s going to be a way to resurrect Sarah Connor. I’m missing Sarah Connor.
I mean, Sarah Connor is such a big part of the franchise, you know. Yeah, I mean I’ve always been surprised how in part 3 she was just like… It was like one line and she was gone.
She was dead, yeah, yeah. It was insulting, yeah.
Yeah, like leukemia and… But I think the great thing about this franchise is you have… You can actually have different canons because you have the element of time travel. So, there’s a way of kind of respecting all the works but also able to create a new time line.
That’s right. You can go back and right the wrongs.
Which, in terms of these Fast and the furious movies are the… I loved the Fast Five but what’s your favorite of the ones you’ve done?
Well, they’ve all have different challenges. I think obviously, coming from the indie world and working on it, Tokyo Drift has this special place in my heart because that was the real… I think that it’s actually, it was probably the most integral chapter in the franchise because it was a fundamental shift in sensibility. And if that didn’t work, there would never going to be Four and Five, you know. So I think a lot, Four and Five exist because of Three. It was also kind of a shift for me as a film maker. But Fast Five, I’ve enjoyed because there’s been… Not only have I grown but I think now we also have established a family. People that I’ve worked with, I’m growing with and I feel like you can see it on screen, of the short hand, of certain people that I worked very well, we just keep growing stronger together and that’s the team mentality that I love about filmmaking. So, that there’s always I think for every special film there’s a unique journey. But obviously, I think I would always hope that the latest is the one that is a summary of who I am or where I’m at right now.
Yeah. Is there any way to include Lucas Black later on?
Lucas is… I love his character, but the time line of it you have the Lucas and Han, that’s a little bit tough and I think we’re always looking. And I think with the way this franchise is going too, is that it is going to expand in a big way if people are going to embrace Five and Six. So, a lot of these characters, they’re going to live. They live in this universe and I believe that the ones that people… I mean a lot of people have always said, “Where’s Lucas Black? Where’s Lucas Black?” And he’s still in this universe, you know. And I don’t think he’s beaten off by any means.
Seven or eight, he may be there. Just going to ask you what’s your thoughts on the Blu-ray format, Justin? Are you a fan of Blu-ray?
I am a fan of Blu-ray. I mean I have to sit… When I usually go color time the film for theatrical release, I love it. But then I always make sure I go back and spend equal amount of time, timing for the Blu-ray edition because the Blu-ray edition is where the film is going to live for the most of its life. When my kids get old enough and they want to go see my films, it’s going to be on Blu-ray. So I think it’s important for me as a film maker to really kind of take that care and making sure that everything is done right. And also, at the same time all the bonus materials, all the extended cuts and stuff like that I want to make sure it’s there because that’s kind of… In many ways it’s an archival footage element that’s going to always be associated with this film.