The next entry in the Fast & Furious franchise releases tomorrow in the United States. F9: The Fast Saga introduces John Cena into the series and also sees plenty of returning faces from the all-star cast that includes Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, and more.
ComingSoon caught up with F9 star Nathalie Emmanuel to discuss the representation within the Fast family, Ramsey’s great chemistry with Ludacris and Gibson, and much more. Check out the video interview below or read the full transcript.
Tyler Treese: Nathalie, your character in the franchise, Ramsey, she’s so intelligent, she’s able to make decisions and is such an important part of the team. What does it mean for you to play such an empowering character in a franchise that’s full of them, but in a very unique manner with her smarts being the most important part of her?
Nathalie Emmanuel: It means so much to me personally. She really embodies a person that I wish I’d seen growing up, you know? I just love that she has really, and her place in this team just because she’s so brilliant and what she does and because of her expertise, because of her very specific skillset. They can’t do the things that they’ve been doing without her, or they can’t do it in the way that they do without her. So, it’s really amazing, and especially just as a woman in the tech space, a woman of color in the tech space, is very underrepresented. I just love that Ramsey gets to be that in the world.
I love that the series is always taking place all over the globe. For F9, what was your favorite location that you filmed?
Sadly, I didn’t get to go to any of the cool locations. I did all of my filming in London. By the way, one of the greatest cities in the world. I live here, I love it here. So obviously it was amazing to be shooting at home, but I was really sad. I didn’t get to go to Tbilisi [in Georgia]. I didn’t get to go to any of the cool locations that they shot in. But in the kind of movies I’ve done, one of my favorite locations was shooting in Abu Dhabi for Furious 7 and that was just like such a special place. I’d love to go back there.
Your character has been in a couple of films now and the fans have fully embraced your character. Coming into such an established franchise with so many recognizable characters, was there much pressure, you know, before you started?
Yeah, of course, but mostly pressure that I put on myself because I was about to walk into a cast with a bunch of people I was a huge fan of. I was like, oh gosh, don’t mess it up. Don’t be awkward or trip over or something embarrassing. I definitely was like nervous and kind of put a lot of pressure on myself, but I also just was so supported by the rest of the cast, and Vin specifically just advocated for me so much and just embraced me and was like, “you’re one of us now.” Everybody was like, you’re part of the family. It was really easy for me to be like, “Oh, but I’m just like, you know, random person from this small seaside town in England I come from and they’re like huge movie stars,” and I think someone reminded me, they were like, we auditioned so many people from all over the place and we want you, so you earned your place here. You earned it. So you have just as much right to be here as anyone. I remember really appreciating that and just feeling like, okay, I can do this. I was really grateful for that.
That’s great. You got so much support from your cast members. How has it been from the fans and all the support they’ve given you?
Oh, the fans are so awesome. They really are. They are so integral to these films and I guess it is quite intimidating when you come into such an established beloved series of films like these, and then the fans who are so vocal, so loyal, and you’re like, oh gosh, I hope they like me. The fact that they fully embraced Ramsey, it warms my heart. It makes me feel so happy because yeah, like I said, the fans are so important to these films and they tell us what they want and we try and give it to them, you know? So it made me feel really warm and fuzzy inside.
Some of my favorite scenes in the film are with yourself, Ludacris, and Tyrese Gibson. You all have so much great chemistry and it’s been that way ever since you first appeared in the series. What do you attribute that to and how fun is it filming with those two?
Chris and Tyrese are just such personalities that they’re so funny, like individually when they’re together. They have great chemistry because obviously, they’re longtime friends. They’ve known each other for a long time, and I think that it’s very easy. Their energy is infectious and you can’t help but want to like jump in and have banter. They’re both very, like they want to hang out and like bring everyone together. I think the whole family’s like that, but I’ve had the pleasure of spending loads of time with those two specifically and just like having bants as we say. They’re just lovely.
One of my favorite scenes in the film is where it actually kind of pokes a little fun at itself. You three are talking about all the crazy scenarios that you’ve gone through and Roman starts to think, “Maybe I’m invincible.” I’ve always enjoyed the comedy in the series and that it’s not afraid to point out like just how over the top things get in such a fun way. Do you think that lighthearted nature has played a real role in the series’ mass appeal?
Yeah, absolutely. I think it just kind of forces people to be like, we’re having fun guys. Like, you know, if we were to sort of dissect every single thing and be like, “Well, the physics doesn’t quite…” I understand that it’s easy to do that, but it’s also like, we just have so much fun with these big stories. It’s almost like fantasy, like this is where we go to the escape and live out the wildest parts of our imagination. So I think it’s okay that we can like laugh at that and poke fun at it, as you say. I think that’s part of why people like it, cause it’s almost like a bit of a wink to the audience saying, yeah, we know, we’re in on the same joke together. Makes you feel good.
Fast and Furious has always had such a great theme of family and it’s a big focus here. One of the things that’s so great about Dom’s chosen family is that it’s so diverse and full of people from so many different walks of life. How meaningful full is it to you that it’s such a natural representation and it’s in one of the biggest blockbuster franchises all around?
It means the world. Part of the reason why I even was attracted to The Fast and the Furious, the first one, was because of the representation within it. 20 years ago, that kind of representation just wasn’t happening. Well, it was, but they certainly weren’t the like leads of their own movies and were the heroes. The one that we’re like vouching for. There’s so many tropes that, especially actors of color, take up in TV and film, but they definitely weren’t like the leads and the heroes. So I always just felt that was so important, especially to a young woman, and a young black mixed woman to see this was so huge and important. That kind of ethos has just kind of grown and grown and grown, and with it, even to the point of like the fact that we go all over the world, we see all these different cultures and hear different language and music and it creates this idea that we’re all connected. We all should be represented. I think it’s instrumental to the success of these films.
One of the action sequences finally has your character getting behind the wheel and there’s this great revelation that she doesn’t know how to drive. So what was it like getting to be more involved on the action side this time?
It was really, really fun. I think it’s so hilarious how Ramsey’s kind of introduction to driving in the movies about cars is the fact that she doesn’t know how. I think it’s just really funny. It was a great comedic moment for Ramsey. What I loved about it is that she stepped up. She couldn’t do it. She was scared. She wasn’t prepared., and she stepped up and she did what she had to do. Apparently, she’s a natural.
Your character has a really unique role in the narrative since she is so tech smart and you wind up explaining some really complex situations to the others and in the audience. When you’re going through all this super tech-heavy stuff, how do you remember those lines?
Repetition, like just learning lines. You just have to repeat them and repeat them and repeat them, but it helps me because I’m not like tech genius, like Ramsey, it helps me to try and actually understand what it is I’m explaining. So I try to research what those ideas are. We have consultants that can give me some information as well. I try and paint a picture in my mind about what it is I’m actually explaining to people. It just makes it easier if I have some idea because otherwise you’re then just saying words that don’t make have any meaning. It makes it harder for me and acting way to like connect to it or to anchor to it. So I try to have some idea, but some of these things are really, really complex.