Next week’s release of Fast & Furious 6 marks Tyrese Gibson’s third big screen appearance as Roman Pearce. The actor made his franchise debut in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious and then returned to the role for 2011’s Fast Five. It was between these two projects, working on the Naval Academy drama Annapolis, that Gibson first met director Justin Lin and, as he explains in the interview below, just might have helped contribute to Lin becoming a Fast & Furious four-time director.
In addition to his work in the speed-fueled franchise, Gibson is well known for appearing in the first three films of Michael Bay’s Transformers series and hopes to return as Epps for Transformers 4. When he’s not performing for the camera, Gibson is a Grammy-nominated musician with a new double-album on the way. He also recently released a 45-minute documentary, “A Black Rose That Grew Through Concrete,” and you can view it in its entirety at the bottom of this page.
CS: Tell me in your own words where we’re finding Roman at the beginning of this film. What has happened since the end of “Fast Five”?
Tyrese Gibson: Once we accomplish these missions — which seem impossible to do at times — we kind of all part ways. We’re all still cool with one another, but we go off and start doing other things. At a certain point in the movie, the phone calls start going out that there’s something we all need to get together for. You just kind of find all of us in different parts of the world doing different things. I’m on a private plane with a bunch of girls, partying it up and drinking champagne, indulging and just living the life. I end up on this plane with these girls and, not even 20 minutes, I get the phone call. I tell them, “Look, y’all can still go to the hotel. I’ll give you a voucher.”
CS: Roman is one of the funnier cast members in this ensemble. Does that come wholly from the script or is there room for improvisation?
Gibson: I’m not known as the funny man unless you actually know me. A lot of people have these perceptions of me being a very serious dude that takes life way too seriously. That’s actually not me. All I do is laugh, crack jokes and act extra hyper. I do this all day, every day on the set of “Fast” and have been doing it. If people go back to my first two movies and look at how I was moving on the set of “2 Fast 2 Furious” on the behind-the-scenes “making of” movie, you’re gonna see the way I get down on the set. My personality is full of energy, fired up and excited about life and opportunity. For me, my humor in the movie is not slapstick comedy. It’s just more dry humor, matter-of-fact stuff that you hope is funny and ends up being funny.
CS: Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Justin Lin? You were in “2 Fast” before he was involved with the franchise, but you also worked together on “Annapolis,” which hit before “Tokyo Drift.”
Gibson: The history will tell you that we were on the set with James Franco and Justin got a call about doing “Fast and the Furious.” He was like, “Nah. Hell nah.” I was like, “What?! Are you kidding me?” That was, at the time, I think, my fourth or fifth movie. I had just finished “2 Fast 2 Furious” only a couple of years before that. It was really appropriate for us to have that conversation on the set. He was like, “Hell no. I have a different career path that I want to take. I don’t know if I want to get involved with these popcorn-type movies. I want my movies to have a little more whatever.” I guess he had a vision for the type of movies he wanted to do in his career. So I started talking some s–t and I went and grabbed a Sharpie and I drew three lines on a piece of paper. It was corny as hell. I wrote, “The Fast & the Furious – Directed By – Justin Lin” on a piece of paper. I gave it to him just as he was in the middle of directing James Franco on the set of “Annapolis.”He just pondered it, looking at it. He went, “Damn.” All of a month later, he decided to do it.
CS: At this point, what would you like to see happen to Roman as a character?
Gibson: I just hope I’m able to be myself. I know Justin is about to go and do some other types of movies. I hope the new director studies the form of what we all bring to the franchise and not make it about just one or two of us in the movie. I hope he keeps the camera and the energy and the multi-cast and the rock n’ roll level that it has. I said this: I wouldn’t want to be a director coming into a franchise like this with so many personalities and everyone fighting and clamoring for the potential to shine and have a few moments in the movie. It could make you want to pull your damn head off. But Justin Lin is a genius. He’s a Zen master. I’ll come up yelling about something and he’ll just calmly go, “Look, Tyrese. I got this. Go over there. Do this. Do that.” So I calm down and go, “Alright, alright, alright. Whatever. Done.”
CS: Is there any chance that you might make another appearance in the “Transformers” universe?
Gibson: I hope that I get that call. I hear there’s some kind of conversation that Josh [Duhamel] had with Michael Bay about coming back for Four. I hope I get that call. “Transformers” is still the only tattoo I’ve ever gotten on my body. We never had a cartoon called ‘Fast & Furious’ when we were kids. I had “Transformers” when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite cartoons. I grew up understanding that “Transformers” world and that “Transformers” universe. It was all because my mommy never turned the T.V. off when I was a kid.
CS: Now you’re making me want to see a “Fast & Furious” Saturday morning cartoon.
Gibson: Ha! I also wanted to tell you about a few other small things going. I want you guys to watch this. I just did a documentary called “A Black Rose That Grew Through Concrete.” It’s on YouTube and Vimeo. I’ve got Vin Diesel, will.i.am, a bunch of guys in the documentary with me. Jamie Foxx. It’s really star-studded and crazy. Good energy. It’s a documentary around my past and kind of my upbringing in South Central L.A. Watts. Then I kind of created a “Black Rose” universe. I have a double album coming and I also have a new book coming and a new documentary for the making of my double album, all called “Black Rose.”
CS: So when do you find time to sleep?
Gibson: Never. Kind of never. We’ve got all that going on and we’ve got “Black Nativity” coming with Jennifer Hudson and Angela Bassett. I’m very proud to be a part of that. It should be coming around Thanksgiving. The last thing is that I’m now in a singing group called TGT, which stands for Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank. All three of us have been solo artists all throughout our careers and we’ve now formed a group and we’ve got a deal over at Atlantic Records. We’ve got a new single on iTunes called “Sex Never Felt Better.” The album is coming out in July.