Drew Pearce On Writing ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ And How He Supports Justice For Han

Senior Entertainment Writer
08.01.19

Universal

Drew Pearce seems to be having the time of his life on the Hobbs & Shaw press tour. And, you know what, it make a lot of sense. Last year he was out promoting Hotel Artemis, which he wrote and directed. Now, he gets to have some fun with just a bit less pressure.

Ahead, Pearce takes us through what it’s like to write a Fast & Furious movie and why, in this rare case, going bigger is usually better. And Pearce is the proud owner of a “Justice for Han” tattoo, referencing fan-favorite character Han Seoul-Oh, who was killed by Shaw, yet now we root for Shaw? Pearce says there were many discussions on how to address that in this movie, but, as he explains, it was decided it would be better to ease into all that.

Everything good?

It’s a funny thing! You know, talking to people about this movie, because the last movie I was promoting I spent two intense years of my life directing, writing, producing. And even though the work on this one was hard, it kind of feels like just a pleasure to be a part of this and to be speaking about it.

You’re talking about Hotel Artemis?

I think when you’ve shouldered the responsibility of dragging an entire movie up a hill on your back, you know, as the full writer, director, producer… I mean, every day is still tough, but there is a certain joy to it as well. There’s a relief. I mean, it’s not a relief that Dave [Leitch] gets to feel, because he gets to pull this one up the hill on his back…

Well, to be fair, compared to Hotel Artemis, I think this analogy of pulling it up the hill, this is a Fast & Furious movie, so it’s already on top of the hill, and the job maybe is to make sure it doesn’t fall back down the hill?

To stretch this analogy as far as the rubber band will go…

Yes, let’s do that…

It’s more a case of can you steer the thing down the hill without veering off into all the ravines around it. I think that’s probably entirely true. But my God, that’s a skill in and of itself because it’s moving very fast, and there’s a lot counting on it.

So I’ve been doing this shtick almost, but I’m also being serious…

No, I get it.

It’s like, you know, you’ve got your Hobbs right there. That’s a movie. You could have done a movie with just Hobbs. You’ve got Hobbs. You’re set. And you add Shaw? You basically get Shaw for free. You could charge double for this movie.

I bet you don’t, but I see what you’re saying.

People would show up just for Hobbs. People would show up just for Shaw. You’re putting those two together.

And then you add Idris…

And you then you add Idris! He’s not even in the title.

But quite rightly, he’s all over the campaign as is Vanessa. And, you know, and when people see the movie, there are a couple of secret supersizes that occur in the movie that again kind of just like double down all over again.

It’s funny that the rift between Vin Diesel and The Rock wound up benefiting you.

Yeah. And I wasn’t there. I was just on for this one. But I mean, a bit like you say, if this sounds like I’m going to go into shtick, but it’s new shtick I haven’t mentioned before. I’m road testing this shtick.

Okay, I’m ready.

Because I only just thought of it. But then maybe is that la familia thing, which is because family has always been at the scene, at the heart of the franchise. I know this sounds incredibly macro, but maybe it is kind of like emulating family relationships? People have arguments. I don’t know if they did, but you know, people in families have arguments. They split out. They go do their own thing. They go live in a different country, and then the family comes back together again. It’s bizarre, the way that these movies mutate.

When did you know who would be in the cast? Kurt Russell isn’t in it, but another famous actor takes that character duty. When did you know this?

The pieces are always moving. Literally the first day I was on the movie was the first day that we all started talking about Idris, and that happened quite quickly. And, you know, the name Brixton is inspired by casting Idris rather than, oh, we have a character called Brixton. That name, by the way, which is actually weirdly a little nod to Hotel Artemis, because all of the people in Artemis are named after place names. And I was like, you know, I’m just going to keep this running.

Yeah, why not?

Brixton sounded pretty good as a bad guy.

I bet there’s a town called Hobbs somewhere.

There probably is.

I looked it up. Hobbs, New Mexico. How about that?

There we go. And some of the other casting, which I will not name, that is surprise casting. And in a movie like this where the world is heightened, I don’t think a little stunt casting is harmful. I don’t think it punctures the reality in a way that rips you out of it.

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