“It’s hard for me to talk about Dom right now,” Vin Diesel says as he sits down just outside the set of Fast Five, “because I am Dom right now.”
He certainly looks the part, battered from head to toe and covered in bruises, blood and sweat. But his particular style of acting goes a lot deeper than what’s on the surface. Method to the end and intensely serious about his craft, Diesel tells us that it’s rare for him to take a break and talk with press on-set.
GALLERY: See new photos from the movie!
Shooting has been going on for days in an old train yard outside Atlanta, Georgia, rebuilt for the film as an abandoned auto plant in Rio de Janeiro. It’s here that the ensemble cast of characters has gathered for what they view as one final heist, bringing together faces from across all the “Fast and the Furious” films, including actors Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Matt Schulze, Tego Calderon and Don Omar.
“I’m not in a good mood today because I’m thinking about beating the f–k out of somebody,” Diesel goes on, “Somebody is gonna get punched. I’m in an angry mode. That’s inside me. That’s the character. So I’m not the nicest person right now.”
Despite his claims, though, Diesel seems to already be warming to our small group of journalists and finally gets a grin on his face when he remembers that there’s something cool he wants to show us. A production assistant brings him his prized image from the shoot the day before: an 8×10 still from one of the fight scenes. In it, Diesel is plummeting through a huge wall of shattering glass, apparently thrown straight through as part of a fight. Snapped at just the right moment, the actor is suspended in midair with a million tiny shards all around him.
“Am I crazy, or is that bananas?” the actor laughs, “That’s yesterday and at a velocity that you can’t even imagine.”
Though the specifics of the fight remain, for now, a mystery, what is known is the identity of the guy doing the throwing. Fast Five finds its antagonist in Dwayne Johnson, taking on the role of Luke Hobbs, a DEA Agent tasked with bringing down Dom and Brian after the two are charged with murder. Not only is Johnson one of the few Hollywood actors physically big enough to take down Diesel in a one-on-one fight, the former wrestler has only added to his muscle weight for the film, marking his heaviest weigh-in ever by about five pounds.
“I’ve known Vin for a long time an we’ve always talked about doing something together,” Johnson says, “but as long as it was right and wasn’t forced. This felt like the right opportunity to create a formidable adversary for him and one that was believable and that we could get on screen and rumble and dance and have some fun… [Hobbs is] not only efficient in his skills and having that animalistic, visceral way where I can rip your f–king throat out — excuse my language — but I also have the backing of the U.S. government. He’s a fun, fun character.”
Diesel, though, has a far more surprising recollection of where the idea for Johnson joining the franchise originated. A huge supporter of his own fans, Diesel manages his own Facebook page and credits one specific individual with Johnson coming aboard.
“There was a woman who left a comment on my Facebook page about six months ago,” Diesel recalls, “Jan Kelly, I think. I don’t know why I remember that. But she said, ‘I’d love to see you guys do a movie and I really think it would be dynamic.’ Justin [Lin] and I were in New York earlier in the year talking about casting and I read this comment from one of the fans on the Facebook page. And next thing you know, we got my buddy in this movie.
Though the role was originally inspired by Tommy Lee Jones’ character in The Fugitive, Johnson’s casting ended up making the part into something all the actor’s own. While Fast Five doesn’t feature any specific hero cars (save for Dom’s Charger), Johnson gets to have a good bit of fun with his character’s transportation: a military Gurkha.
“[It’s] a big, 10-ton, absurdly badass vehicle,” says Johnson, “When we land in Brazil, I’ve got me, my men and my Gurkha.”
Part of a heavily armed team, Johnson’s Hobbs is joined by Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves. Hobbs ends up handpicking Neves to be his partner because she’s the only other officer he feels he can trust.
“It’s funny because he’s such a big guy playing this tough guy,” Pataky says of Johnson, “and she’s trying to be a tough woman because she’s the only girl and she’s around all these SWAT guys, so she’s always trying to make sure her job is correct.”
“There is this one scene where Elsa and I are firing side by side,” jokes Johnson, “and we were all kind of laughing at it because Elsa is such a petite woman — very beautiful, but petite — and next to me she looks very, very tiny… When it gets stripped down, it’ll be very serious, but we were laughing just because it looked so funny.”
Diesel, meanwhile, has a role in the film that goes well beyond his character. As much as Dom is at home behind the wheel of his Charger, Diesel has settled in behind the wheel of the whole “Fast and the Furious” franchise. After stepping in as producer on the last film, he has a clear plan for what he wants from Fast Five, a film that he views as, alongside Fast & Furious, the second part of a new trilogy that will end the series.
“I’ve always had kind of an allergic reaction to taking a reactionary approach to a sequel,” explains Diesel of why it took him so long to return as Dom, “My gut feeling about sequels is that they should be premeditated. You should try to write a trilogy first or at least sketch out a trilogy if you have any faith in your film. You should think about where the film is going over a series of films… So, when I did ‘Tokyo Drift,’ they asked me to do this cameo. I had always said no to doing sequels to ‘Fast and the Furious’ and I had said no because of the script. And the producer said, ‘If you don’t like the scripts that we’re producing, then you produce a script.’ And that was the last ‘Fast & Furious.'”
Being in a creative role also allowed Diesel to try some things that he feels might not have been considered otherwise. To tie in to Fast & Furious, he wrote and directed a short tie-in film called “Los Bandoleros” (as seen on the DVD). Though no official plans have as-of-yet been announced for a tie-in to Fast Five, Diesel doesn’t rule out the possibility and, moving forward, definitely knows how he wants to finish the series.
“This is a trilogy,” he says, “…When I was thinking of this ‘Fast & Furious,’ I thought of it as three stories. The one that you saw, this one and the final one.”
Of course, it’s far too early to say which characters even make it out of Fast Five (save for Sung Kang’s Han, as “Tokyo Drift” still happens last in the chronology), but Diesel does offer one tease.
“I think we’ll be in Europe in the last one,” he says.
Before moving onto that project, though, Diesel still has his focus completely maintained on finishing Fast Five, a production that, like everything he’s been a part of, he holds in tremendously high regard.
“All the fights and all the battles and everything that goes on before we ever start filming is story related,” he offers, “And thank God you fight. You fight your ass off to get the story just at a decent place before you start shooting. And they you have to be a genius at every turn trying to fix all the outstanding ideas before you get to build up the parts that haven’t developed or blossomed yet in the movie. So it’s a very sacred experience making movies and it calls for us to treat it as such. Or at least that’s how I see it. Every movie I make, I tell these clowns, I tell the world, I tell the good guys and the bad guys, ‘You could die at the end of the movie.’ The way I think of it, you could die at the end of the movie.”
Fast Five hits theaters on April 29th in both conventional and IMAX theaters. Check back throughout the week, as ComingSoon.net will be bringing more reports straight from the Atlanta set. You can watch the teaser trailer below!