Back in 2000, Tyrese Gibson had a burgeoning career as an R&B singer before he turned to acting with his second movie being the high-profile sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious, which introduced the popular character of Roman Pearce, who has become an even bigger fan-favorite when he was brought back for 2011’s Fast 5. In between, Tyrese took on a bunch of roles including playing a H.I.V.E. soldier in Michael Bay’s “Transformers” franchise, but now he’s back for his fourth go-round as Roman in Furious 7, which once again has him trading barbs with Ludacris’ Tej.
ComingSoon.net got on the phone with Tyrese to talk about appearing in his fourth “Fast and Furious” movie and the first one directed by James Wan (The Conjuring), as well as how the cast and crew dealt with the sudden and tragic death of Paul Walker.
Surprisingly, Tyrese’s next record “Black Rose” (out on July 17) will be his last as he’s decided to focus more on acting and other things, including a musical short film called “Shame” directed by Paul Hunter (Bulletproof Monk) which stars him and Jennifer Hudson.
You can read about all of that and more in the interview below:
CS: Hey Tyrese. You kind of stole “Furious 7” with some of your scenes in the movie.
Tyrese Gibson: You’re going to start the interview off like that? Jesus Christ, man.
CS: Well, I gotta say, whoever thought of pairing you with Ludacris is a genius. I mean, they should be getting a nice royalty, because that’s been the best part of the last few movies, the scenes between you two.
Gibson: Wow, thank you very much, man. You know, I’m not a comedian, man, but I think certain times people take life way too serious, man. I’ve just been like, “Man, let’s make sure we’re having fun while we’re doing all this sh*t. Jesus.”
CS: It’s funny you mention that, because that’s one of the things where action movies sometimes gets lost. This movie obviously has very serious moments and very serious things in it, I mean, there’s gotta be some kind of fun involved, even if there’s real danger involved, in some ways.
Gibson: Right. Well, I appreciate you covering this movie, man. Thank you. What’s the outlet that you’re with?
CS: I’m with a site called ComingSoon.net.
Gibson: Oh man, I love your site.
CS: Cool, we’re glad to hear that, since we’ve been covering the “Fast and Furious” movies since the beginning.
Gibson: Man, I know all about your site. I go to your site all the time.
CS: Cool, that’s great to hear. Hopefully we only say nice things about you on there. I think we do. You never know.
CS: You’ve made two of these movies with Justin and you worked with him before, so what was the biggest thing that James brought to the mix when he came on board? The rest of you had been doing these movies together and you have a new guy coming in, so what were some of the main differences?
Gibson: Well, I think it’s not fair to have a brand new person to come on board and then say, “Duplicate somebody else’s last direction as a director.” So, I think they were very fair, and allowed for James to come in and put his own spin and take on what he sees as far as “The Fast and the Furious” through his eyes, you know? And to all of our surprise, because we didn’t know what to expect, none of us did, and when you have a director that comes from the thrillers and the scary movie world, and then now, you’re putting one of the biggest franchises out there, and this one specifically, because of what happened with our brother Paul, I mean, you just kinda hope for the best, f*cking nervous as hell. And then, the other side of it is, and I actually said this to Justin Lin, when I was trying to figure out a way to get him to come back for “Seven,” I said, “Man, I mean, Justin, we just won the Super Bowl, bro, and you’re the coach. You know, you’re the coach, man, and you’re passing your Super Bowl winning team off to a brand new coach. Like, are you really going to do that, man, like, right now?” And I think creatively, Justin was just in a different space and just wanted to do something new that he had been doing so many back to back, which is understandable. But James stepped in and I think outta respect to his creators, he did the due diligence, he did all the research, he said he watched all of the “Fast and the Furious” from the beginning. And so, he got a real sense of the history, the story, the back story, of all of our characters. And you know, I think the world is going to feel the way we feel, which is James Wan came in, the smallest person on set with the biggest vision.
CS: I don’t think this movie misses a beat in continuing from the previous movie, and I’m not sure if many people will even realize there’s a new director.
Gibson: Right. We’re happy, man. We’re really happy with the energy and the feedback so far, man. Again, the fans and supporters around the world, this was literally mentally and spiritually, the most challenging thing that any of us has ever went through. There were a few very important factors that I definitely want included in this story, if possible.
One would say, “How is it possible that you all are still shooting this movie, when you know, we lost our brother and our family in Paul Walker?” And we want you all to know, we asked the same question. There was a few things that happened that created inspiration and a comfortability that none of us seen coming. And the first thing was, Paul’s mother and father said that they want us to continue with the franchise, because Paul was at around 85 percent of the movie done. And then, the major donation went down of a million dollars from Universal Pictures to Paul’s charitable organization, Reach Out Worldwide, which I think was the most honorable and special thing that could’ve been done as a gesture. Then, we realized that Paul’s brothers looked exactly like Paul and they were willing to step in and help us to literally finish the movie. Then all of a sudden, the anxiety in your conscious that would have normally kind of ate away at you, everything felt better. ‘Cause there’s a lot of movies that can get made under public domain and the family is completely against anything that has to do with moving forward if any tragedies happen. And that’s the wrong kind of movie to make, when it’s public knowledge that the family ain’t f*cking with you. And the fact that we had so much love and support, even having both brothers on set to help us to finish the movie, it made it all that much better for us mentally, spiritually, and psychologically more important to finish this movie. And then it became the biggest thing was we are all literally doing this on behalf of Paul. And I want to be able to point this out. Normally, at the end of a “Fast and the Furious” movie, there’s been a tradition – cliffhangers, new characters are being introduced, and all of these different moments. This is the first “Fast and the Furious” that doesn’t end that way, and we are doing exactly what we’re supposed to do, which is allow for the fans to embrace this montage and this beautiful moment that was beautifully done. It feels more like a graduation, like a beautiful send-off as a tribute at the end of the movie. And I believe the fans are really going to appreciate that in a major way.
CS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, any kind of cliffhanger would’ve felt wrong after that. It’s kind of interesting, because the franchise could end there and it could end on a high point, but obviously, it’s going to do well enough they’ll want to do more. So, what happens now? Do you have any idea? It seems like this could be the end of an era but it would be great if they can continue on with the current crew.
Gibson: Well, you know, honestly, I’m not in position to speak on what we’re going to do from here on, because I just wouldn’t put myself out there like that. But I will say this, our specific motivation is the fans. And while some folks may think that, “Oh, it’s making a lot of money, so let’s just keep going,” if we can’t find anything clever or unique or forward thinking or next level, bigger, better, more significant, then we’ll hit a stalemate and wouldn’t want to do anything. So, the pressure that we feel, as this franchise keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger, the pressure that we feel to make this thing better is more significant than you could ever imagine, because this level of pressure will either bust pipes or make diamonds, and we’re trying our best to just continue to make diamonds.
CS: One thing I thought is that maybe they should do spinoff movies, like a reverse “Avengers.” I really want to see more with you and Ludacris and you must have more of a history from before “Fast 5.” I feel like that’s something which hasn’t been covered yet.
Gibson: You know, honestly, I don’t know. I mean, the idea of a spinoff with Tej and Roman, we’ve kind of bounced that idea around, but there’s something very interesting about our personalities kind of chopping through the seriousness of the movie, and how it makes sense to do it in this particular setting. Do you get what I’m saying? So what makes is funny is that everything else is so f*cking serious. (laughs) And so, if you go do a whole movie, then now we’re trying to be Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell, and I just don’t know. It’s not that I don’t feel like I could carry a full movie, but I’m not a comedian. I’m just funny, but I’m not a comedian. You know what I’m saying? So I don’t know. I think the reason it works is because it’s in this particular setting, in my opinion.
CS: Yeah, that’s probably true. I know you’re kind of branching out and trying to do some of your own things as well. You have a project, “Desert Eagle.” And so, what made you decide to get involved with that and writing? I know a lot of filmmakers I’ve talked to that said basically the best things actors can do is write their own material because then they have characters they really like.
Gibson: Well, I mean, honestly, I actually wrote “Desert Eagle” when I was working with Paul Bettany on the movie “Legion.” So, through determination to just never give up, I pitched the movie around town. I actually tried to get – rest in peace – I tried to get Tony Scott to direct this movie, and I went and met with the folks over at Scott Free about bringing this “Desert Eagle” movie over to them, and so it took a while to finally get some love. I met with Scott Stuber over at Universal, and Donna Langley, and Jeff Kirschenbaum, and they literally bought the movie on the spot. Scott Stuber was one of the top executives at Universal, back when I came on board, but back when I came on board “The Fast and the Furious,” Stacey Snider and Scott Stuber were kind of the top dogs over at Universal, before they ventured off to do other things. So everything came full circle when I met with Scott Stuber and he bought the “Desert Eagle” script on the spot. So, these two new writers that we just brought on, I turned it in at like 115 pages with my partner, Mike Le. Once he bought the script, man, I was just excited, and it became a moment of like, “Wow, through determination and just never giving up and having certain doors slammed in your face and saying, ‘Well, we love it, but it’s not for us,’” I never gave up on it. So, now, I’ve potentially written my own starring vehicle. Yeah, so I would love to do something like this with Colin Farrell or Matt Damon because it’s a real action, you know, it’s a big movie. The scope of it is big and again, it’s got elements of all the right movies and the right formula. I feel like, well, look, man, I’m now approaching close to $5 billion worth of box office receipts with various movies that I’ve been a part of, whether my role is small, medium or big, I’m a part of it and these fans around the world, recognize my presence and I feel like now you pay your dues and now you have an opportunity that has your own stage to fly on. I’m excited.
CS: Yeah, very true. I knew your stuff when you were a singer doing R&B, and you’re one of the few musicians who became an actor and actually has been able to succeed at both.
Gibson: Thank you very much, man. It’s a balancing act that you would never want to be a part of, believe me.
CS: Before I let you go, I see on this thing you sent me that it’s your “last studio album,” so does that literally mean the last studio album or does it mean your latest studio album?
Gibson: Yeah, musically, I’m tapping out, bro. I’m done. I mean, I’m still going to sing, but I’m not doing another full album. I can’t do it.
CS: Yeah, making records is a lot of work. It’s great talking to you and I hope to talk to you again soon, all right?
Gibson: Yeah, thank you very much, man. I just sent you the link to the “Dumb Sh*t” song and video. I would love for you to include that in this article. You’re the first to know about this movie called “Shame” that I just did with Jennifer Hudson, and it’s directed by Paul Hunter. That information is on there, too. It’s a musical short of 23 minutes, and we’re about to make our rounds to the film festivals. We got our first confirmation for our film. We’re going to go with the Tribeca, and what’s the other one?
CS: Well, Tribeca is coming right up.
Gibson: Toronto and we’re going to make our rounds. What’s the one in Utah?
CS: Oh, Sundance? That’s not until next year.
Gibson: Yeah, that’s January, but we’re going to make our rounds and get this movie everywhere. It’s a period piece, 1968, and it was one of the most uncomfortable movies me and Jennifer Hudson has ever done. It’s dark. It’s basically me as like, Ike Turner/Teddy Pendergrass/Marvin Gaye, an R&B solo singer, who used cocaine and drugs and just becomes very abusive with their power. I’m married to Jennifer Hudson’s character and it’s a 23-minute musical short film that’s going to shock a lot of people. Can’t wait for you to see it and if you write about it, I will love you forever.
CS: Tyrese, it’s great talking to you. Thanks for reading ComingSoon.net. We really appreciate hearing that from people.
Gibson: Thank you, bro. I appreciate you and I love your site, man. Thank you.
Furious 7 opens everywhere, literally, on Friday, April 3 with previews on Thursday night, April 2. Look for our interview with director James Wan very soon and you can check out the first single from Tyrese’s upcoming album, “Dumb Sh*t” with Snoop Dogg on iTunes and watch the video here.