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.
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.
In the last one, they put a rocket on a car and shot it into a submarine. So I don’t think that’s going to break the reality of this movie.
Exactly. If the physics don’t break the reality, then the stunt casting definitely won’t.
The Rock jumps out of a skyscraper in this movie and is fine when he hits the ground. So, yeah, I don’t think that’s going to be the thing that does that.
Because he’s on a harness! There is a harness!
He keeps letting go, though. He goes into free-fall like three times.
He does. And I would love to bring in the professionals I used as consultants for that sequence, some from Cornell, some from Harvard, and we brainstormed the exact scientific velocity which he would reach.
I can’t tell if you’re being serious.
That’s good. I am now, for the fun of it, not going to tell you whether that’s true.
I’m going with that is not true because I feel if it were true you’d be very adamant about it.
Historically, if you look at anything I’ve said about anything else, I am absolutely a strict motherfucker for physics, and on this one I’m going to say I’m not giving you the names of the professors that I used. But, honestly, weirdly it’s a tonal call, right? And that’s part of reading the movie as you go is did we push that too far? Is that too cartoonish? Is that too silly? But then there’s the ratio, right, which is, is that too silly, but it’s such a fucking good moment that it doesn’t matter?
And every movie uses a different, you know, tone ratio. And maybe that’s one of the reasons that the Hobbs and Shaw was quite freeing as a summer job for me because that ratio is absolutely in the favor of entertainment over true science, for example. You know, it’s all about balance, one of my favorite sequences, which is the glass elevator and the Dwayne defying gravity sequence…
The one you talked to all the scientists about. Yes.
That’s right, exactly, and all the architects who definitely build single glass elevators on the outside of skyscrapers.
Right. They’re my favorite elevators to take every time.
There are literally thousands of them all over the London skyline.
Right, and there’s always this long line because people don’t want to go inside for an elevator. They want to use the small outside elevator that fits one person at a time.
Yes, that’s exactly right. You clearly have studied architecture yourself.
The Rock gets to suplex a bad guy.
I didn’t do the suplex. No, no, no. I would love to take credit for that.
Just do it. Just take credit. Who’s going to stop you? There’s no one here to stop you.
You know what? I’m a man who believes in the ability of the team effort and the credit where credit’s due. And so I cannot claim credit for that beautiful move.
Did you ever think about addressing the fact that Shaw killed Han Seoul-Oh?
Obviously. I mean, I’ve got a “Justice for Han” tattoo.
Is that a tough thing to address because Shaw is being redefined as this guy we root for?
I mean, it’s a thing I brought up a lot. But there were a couple of ways that we nearly addressed it and then chose not to. I think the baby step to doing that was finding this backstory for Shaw that went some distance to explaining his transition, from the first time we meet him in the franchise, to him being one of our heroes. And I think that was really interesting working with Statham really closely on that, which I did because he had questions about who Shaw was. You know? And so we sat down and we kind of worked him out. And with that, I think, came a real focusing of Shaw’s voice, which is partly Statham’s voice, but it’s also trying to work out where he comes from.
I wanted him to have a hard military background, but he feels like he’s that guy, you know? Again, in buddy cop style, you want two people with very different physical and philosophical approaches to life who learn just a tiny bit from each other and get better for it. You’re leaving money on the table character-wise if you don’t lean into that little bit in a buddy movie.
Well, that is all I have. I’m happy you’re enjoying this. You sound very happy.
Honestly, there is a movie coming out this Friday that I feel genuinely is going to make a lot of people really happy, and I know that can sometimes be the scoundrels back door, why you make a movie, and it shouldn’t be the reason you make every movie. But I do think I’m excited that a lot of people will smile more this weekend because of the hard work that went into making Hobbs & Shaw and what it is and who they are. And you know, there’s a fucking value to that in the world at this time, I believe.
And like I said, people would show up for Hobbs. They’re also getting Shaw.
Absolutely. I would have showed up for Shaw as well.
I wish they would put that on the poster. You’re paying for Hobbs. You’re getting your Shaw for free. We should be charging you double, but we’re not.
I think in the nature of the movie, you’d have to then do another poster that says you’re paying for Shaw, and you’re getting Hobbs for free.
Right. I have a feeling Jason Statham’s management team probably wouldn’t be thrilled with the “you get the Shaw for free.”
I think it’s just philosophically, there’s a mirror imaging that occurs in this movie, and I think you would definitely want those two posters up in your office.
You get your Shaw. You’re paying for Shaw, but you get Hobbs for free, too. Yes, you’re for sure going to do it both ways.
‘Hobbs & Shaw’ opens this weekend in theaters nationwide. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.