In a recent roundtable interview, the director and cast of Fast 9 discussed creating the penultimate chapter of the Fast series. They discussed the elements that tie the franchise's past and future together, with the return of old faces and the recruitment of an important new cast member.
Bringing back things from the series 'past, Justin Lin talked about his return to the series, having left the franchise behind after directing 2013's Fast & Furious 6. "When I left, I thought,' Okay, this is the time for me. I have nothing more to contribute, '" Lin recalled.
"And I remember I would be filming a scene or in a cutting room, and Vin Diesel called me," he continued. And we talked about Dom and the Fast family. And I think a lot of the conversation was spent going back over the years, talking about the characters and the world. And when the right idea and the right themes landed, it felt very organic. it was not far. "
Justin Lin isn't the only returning member of Team Fast, Fast 9 will also see Sung Kang reprise his role as Han Lue. It is believed that he died during the events of Tokyo Drift, but Fast 9 will bring him back to the family. For Vin Diesel, this was an important part of the story.
"This installment is about fatherhood in many ways. And fatherhood, to really understand its meaning, you have to examine sisterhood," Diesel said. That comes in the introduction of Jakob Toretto, Dom's real brother, played by John Cena. But, Diesel explains, this allows the film to examine the bloodless brotherly bond between Dom and Han.
Regarding his return, he celebrated that Universal allowed him and the team creative freedom to go beyond the established ground of the series. "I think a lot of times with the aftermath, it's like 'let's do the same thing again.' That's not the case here," he said. "We always challenge each other to evolve and push. And so, it felt like I was far away, but it also felt very poetic to be back, trying to pack everything, at least the saga."
"If you go back to Tokyo Drift, there was no brotherhood between Dom and Brian," he explained. "Brian was a cop, obviously Dom was an outlaw. There was a brotherhood between Han and Dom. They were outlaws in Mexico. They were brothers. So in creating all this mythology, Jakob's presence was wonderfully balanced with Han's return, the return of a brother. There are relevance and power that lives in this mythology that only Sung Kang Han could bring to our mythology. "
This return of a character from the series' past is linked to the future of the franchise, with the new character Jakob. Finding the right person to play Toretto's brother was something of a stumbling block for Diesel and Lin.
"Once we got closer to production, Justin and I talked about how heartbreaking it would be to have to choose a new Toretto," he recalled. "There are so many different directions you can go to."
But an encounter with John Cena caused Diesel to have an emotional reaction that made him realize that Cena was perfect for the role of Jakob Toretto. "I remember John Cena walking into this sanctuary of Dom that he had, where he was going to meditate and train and start getting into that Dom state of mind," Diesel revealed. "Call this crazy, but I remember feeling like Paul Walker sent it. And I remember talking to Justin that night and saying, 'My gut and my heart feel like this is it.'