Crazy as it sounds, the Fast & Furious series is 15 years old.
The Fast And The Furious sped into cinemas in summer 2001 on a surge of nitrous oxide and grew into one cinema’s most popular franchises.
A lot’s changed since that plucky little B-movie back in the day, but Vin Diesel has – aside from one instalment – remained the man who’s shifted the Fast films into top gear and powered them towards billion of box office dollars.
Here are 15 facts on the all-conquering fast car blockbusters…
It all started in a magazine
Branded a Point Break clone when it first arrived in 2001, The Fast And The Furious is actually inspired by a 1998 Vibe magazine article titled Racer X. Original screenwriter Gary Scott Thompson based his script on the piece, which dived into LA’s illegal street racing scene.
There’s an ending to the original you haven’t seen
A deleted scene from the first movie had Brian O’Connor visiting Mia (Jordana Brewster) at the Toretto home after Dom had done a runner. You can watch it above to understand just why it was left on the cutting room floor (yeah, it’s naff).
Brian O’Connor nearly looked very different
Before Paul Walker was cast as FBI agent Brian O’Connor in the first film, the likes of Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Eminem were considered for the part.
Paul Walker used his own cars
When we first meet Brian O’Connor in 2 Fast 2 Furious, the car he’s driving actually belongs to Walker. The actor had a passion for street racing and picked each car for his character personally.
Vin Diesel turned down the sequel
The chrome-domed one was offered a shedload of cash to return for the sequel, but turned it down to make xXx instead. A script was written including Vin, and one without… eventually they gave up trying to convince him and drafted in Tyrese Gibson instead.
Universal made Vin Diesel an offer he couldn’t refuse
After Tokyo Drift received poor test screening notices, Universal convinced Vin Diesel to return to the franchise for a cameo appearance. In return they gave him the rights to the Riddick series.
The franchise’s timeline is mind boggling
And you thought Marvel movies were complicated? The Fast movies don’t play out in chronological order. The outlier is The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, released as the third film in the series but taking place between the events of Fast & Furious 6 and Fast & Furious 7. The correct numbering order to watch the films in is: 1,2,4,5,6,3,7.
There are secret Fast movies you’ve (probably) never seen
Okay, these are short films but still regarded as part of the Fast series canon. Turbo-Charged Prelude, starring Paul Walker and Minka Kelly, was released in 2003 to fill in the gap between the first two films, while the Vin Diesel-directed Los Bandoleros provides backstory for fourth instalment Fast & Furious.
Vin Diesel’s Facebook page is key to franchise casting
With 99 million like on Facebook Vin Diesel is a social media juggernaut. Alongside selfies, Fast trailers and photos, he also uses it to poll fans on who they want to see in future movies. That’s how Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham ended up in the series, while mutual love in the press between Diesel and Helen Mirren resulted in the latter getting a role in Fast & Furious 8.
The runway in Fast & Furious 6 is long
In Fast 6’s show-stopping finale a massive cargo plane heads down a runway as chaos erupts around it. The scene goes on for 13 minutes, and maths brainiacs established that – with the plane averaging 120 mph – the runway would have to be 26 miles long. Logic be damned!
There are cameos galore
Eagle-eyed music fans will have spotted cameo appearances from Rita Ora in Fast & Furious 6 playing a London street race starter girl. Iggy Azalea followed in her footsteps in Furious 7. Prior to that, an end-credits stinger scene features Eva Mendes reprising her role as 2 Fast 2 Furious US customs agent Monica Fuentes.
That tank chase is the real deal
Originally, Fast & Furious 6’s insane tank run was going to be heavily doctored with CGI. Director Justin Lin was having none of that, doing the whole stunt for real with minimal digital enhancements in post-production.
The Furious 7 scene you didn’t see
In a sequence cut from Fast & Furious 7, Michelle Rodriguez’s combats amnesia through a flashback scene that dovetails into her character’s “death” in Fast & Furious. There we get to see future Wonder Woman Gal Gadot save Letty’s life by rushing her to hospital.
The Rock, master improviser
Dwayne Jonson improvised his “you better hide that big-ass forehead” line from Fast 6. Ludacris spitting out his drink was a genuine reaction. We’ve no idea if the equally iconic “daddy’s got to go to work” one-liner from Fast & Furious 7 was similarly off the cuff.
Fast & Furious 7 was completed without Paul Walker
The tragic death of Paul Walker in November 2013 through production of Fast & Furious 7 into doubt. Using a combination of clever CGI and Walker’s brothers Cody and Caleb as doubles the team were able to finish the film and honour the late actor. After that ‘fork in the road’ finale there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.