To say Paul Walker and Vin Diesel are blunt about their relationship to the “The Fast and The Furious” franchise is an understatement. When asked why he returned to play Brian O’Conner for a third time in this weekend’s anticipated action flick “Fast & Furious,” Walker pretty much admits it was all about the paycheck.
Walker says, “I thought, ‘Why not? I’ll come back, hangout with some friends. What else am I doing right now?’ I had taken some time away, and like I said, I just wanted to get back and work and just have fun again.”
Still, he wasn’t sure if moviegoers were going to be that keen for his onscreen reunion with co-star Vin Diesel. As Walker notes, the chemistry they have is that they have no chemistry, but somehow their oil and water like personalities (you could probably write a thesis on how bizarrely different the two men are from each other) work on screen. But in an “all’s well that ends well” happy ending, “Furious” is tracking for a huge April opening, most likely a minimum $45 million plus weekend, possibly more.
Set chronologically before the third installment, “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” the new thriller begins with O’Conner still working for the FBI and Dominic Toretto (Diesel) on the lam from the law in the Dominican Republic with his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). After separating for a few months, Letty returns to Los Angeles only to be murdered doing a cross-border racing gig between the U.S. and Mexico. When Toretto starts investigating who killed Letty he coincidentally crosses paths with O’Conner and old rivalries are renewed. The picture also reignites the subplot of O’Conner’s relationship with Mia (Jordana Brewster), Toretto’s sister.
While Walker returned to see some old friends and a nice paying gig, Diesel had much more to consider. One of the reasons the new “Furious” was even developed in the first place was because of the intense audience reaction after his cameo in “Tokyo Drift.” But after years of going on the record that he wouldn’t return to topline either “Drift” or the first sequel, “2 Fast 2 Furious,” he was genuinely interested in reuniting the original cast.
All pretense aside, Diesel admits, “If you guys were my reps, it would be an interesting conversation. You’d be like, ‘Well, I don’t know, Vin. Do you really want to take that chance? You said no so many times, if you come back now, you’re setting yourself up. The odds are going to be stacked against you.’ We’ve have that conversation.”
Days after the premiere and numerous test screenings that show fans clamoring for a fifth “Furious,” Diesel is happy with his choice.
“Am I relieved that people enjoyed it? That feels good,” Diesel admits. “I revel in the idea that people appreciate the work.”
One of the reasons that Walker believes fans are so excited about “Furious” is that the original movie had the most heart of the three installments.
“I just think that [in the first movie] Dominic Toretto created, a family. They were basically just a bunch of street kids that had this common interest which is cars. It was either that or gangs. These guys would’ve probably end up in a lot of trouble, but they all found something that they were passionate about, that they liked and Brian of course comes along and screws it all up,” Walker says. “I loved the second one, it was a lot of fun, but I don’t think the second one had the heart that the first one had.”
Describing himself as a “big kid,” the 35-year-old actor says he loves doing action and “my favorite days are the days that I get to show up on a movie like this and I get to run and jump and blast dudes around, hop over fences.” And yet, before he signed on the dotted line there was still a degree of hesitation.
“A couple of years ago I would’ve probably been like, ‘Ahh, I don’t know if I want to do it.’ But I’m a little older and I like to think a little wiser,” Walker says. “I realized that everyone should be so lucky to have a franchise that spans eight years. So, I was like, ‘The hell with it. I’m going to come back and make another one and I’m going to smile the whole time.'”
And the way things are looking, he’ll get that opportunity with a fifth ‘Furious‘ too.
“Fast & Furious” opens nationwide tomorrow.