Summer’s here and with it comes the next installment in the world-dominating, car-flying, Fast & Furious franchise with the release of F9 this Friday. One of my favorite movie quotes ever comes from Tyrese Gibson’s character, Roman Pearce, in 2 Fast 2 Furious: “…I’m trying to eat all I can, while I can. Plus, the doc tell me I got a high metabolism.” That’s inspiring, right there.
While I can neither confirm nor deny Gibson has a high metabolism in real life, I can attest to him being in love with food.
“You can ask anybody; there’s no one who snacks as much as I do,” he told me over the phone this week. “The crazy thing is, when it’s time for me to sit down and have a full-on meal, I get full the fastest. So, I just kind of snack along the way every step of the way throughout the day…I’m the snack king.”
That eating approach feels custom-built for summer movie season. Since the onslaught of the pandemic, we were all forced to indulge in movie-watching at home. Now, thanks to vaccines and maintaining safe COVID-19 protocols, we’re able to return to theaters this summer.
“A lot of movies have decided to be released in theaters and then go to streaming; but we’re like, ‘No, we’re going to theaters,’” Gibson explained. “A lot of first kisses have happened in the theater. A lot of people have held hands…So many marriages and families and first dates have happened from the movie theater experience. We want to be able to encourage people to come back out. ”
Last week, while Gibson made a stop at the new Regal Theater outside of Houston, Texas, we had the chance to talk about his greatest passion outside of singing and acting: food. The conversation started with his sentiments about Fast & Furious fans returning to theaters before diving into his food takes and his jetsetter-inspired travel agency, Voltron Travel.
With the next F9 coming out soon, many people are excited to get back into the theaters. This will be memorable. What’s been one of the biggest highlights of being part of these movies and your career overall?
Well, this is one of the highlights. If I could contribute to re-sparking fans to come back out to the theaters to have a full-on theater experience and if I could one day lay my hat on the table and say, ‘I did that,’ then I would be very proud. I’m not just talking about just the movies I’m in, but every movie that’s coming out this summer into the fall and into the Oscar season.
With your role as Roman in the film, he eats quite a bit, and you are definitely known as being passionate about food off set. How does that character resonate with you?
I was very grateful to John Singleton, rest in peace, decided to have my character be funny, and to be eating, and doing all the things that I do. At the time, I didn’t know that we would ever do a Fast & Furious with the entire cast coming back together. When we did part two, we never knew that there would be a part three, let alone fast forward ahead to get to Fast 9. So it’s that feeling of a limousine ride when you go to prom. You know you’re going to be in that limo for like, eight, maybe ten hours if you’re lucky? But at a certain point, the limousine got to go away.
I feel like we’ve been in this limousine ride with butterflies in our stomachs for 20 years. It’s just a blessing to know that we’re still working on a movie that people are still this excited about. It says everything about the confidence that we have in our fan base and our following that’s been rocking with us for 20 years.
Fast & Furious has brought you all over the world. So, tying in the foodie aspect again, what’s been your favorite location that you shot at based on the food alone?
London’s food is amazing. We’ve shot at so many places. I’m trying to think. I love Miami, you know, Dominican, Cuban, Latin food. I love it. I also love Puerto Rican home-cooked custom meals that happen out there. I’m a big lover of Latin food. I’m a bit of a foodie. I pretty much eat anything anywhere – whatever country or state or city I’m in.
Speaking of which, I have to bring up your Red Lobster $7,000 spend over the span of two years. Tyrese, really?
The crazy thing is this: It’s almost like when someone gives you something that big [speaking of the gift card Red Lobster sent him when they discovered his love for the chain], then you kind of scale back. I haven’t even spent through that card that the CEO of Red Lobster gave me. I still have, the card for Red Lobster, swipe it and go. It’s still in my wallet.
You also have a hibachi grill in your backyard, right? What compelled you to get that?
The teppanyaki experience – without mentioning the company – is an experience that I feel like pretty much everyone loves. I don’t care if you’re doing a taco Tuesday or if you’re making breakfast on a teppanyaki grill, it’s all done. A lot of my friends are celebrities and public figures, especially being in L.A., we can’t go anywhere without being photographed and having TMZ and folks of that world showing up.
So, simply put, I put a teppanyaki grill and built a restaurant in my backyard. I’ve probably fed about 7,000 people in the last ten years and it’s like the favorite thing to do. Once you get done with all of your public stuff, everyone comes to my house. So even for me, when we do the premiere of Fast 9 in L.A., it’s going to be red carpet and work, work, work, then we’re all going to my house after – the whole cast director, [and] executives from the studio. The party is going to be at my house, and it happens every year.
Even when I heard about it, I didn’t realize it was a full-on restaurant.
It’s a brick-and-mortar situation. There are folks that work at that restaurant, throwing shrimp in the air, fire — the whole situation. It’s been really fun just being able to have my friends over and feel like they could actually have a restaurant experience without being photographed and filmed the whole time because it just gets uncomfortable with going to public places, especially in L.A.
I work for the travel section and, in addition to acting, you also have Voltron Travel. Can you tell me about the company?
Well, with VoltronTravel.com, I’m very proud. There’s Travelocity and all of the competitors, but I just love that when you book flights on my site, we are actually helping to put Black and Brown people through college. It’s really cool to say I have a company, and you want to make all this money, but it always comes down to how do other people benefit from your success – and that’s what I’m about at this point.
I appreciate you even mentioning, Voltron Travel. I definitely would encourage everyone to make the switch and know that every time you book, a flight, hotel, or car rental, we’re helping to put Black and Brown people through college, from the inner city.