One of the highest grossing film franchises of all time, the Fast and Furious series relies heavily on its cast, but that isn’t always a good thing.
Starting out with a film that was a street racing version of Point Break, when the Fast and Furious franchise began it performed well, but didn’t take the film world by storm. However, once Fast Five was released the series became a total sensation. Transitioning from car movies to all-around action-packed blockbusters, the series has done stellar business at the box office.
As one of highest grossing film franchises of all time, the release of each Fast and Furious film is highly anticipated. It’s huge success is in large part due to the pulse-pounding action these films feature, but fans have also become really attached to the characters at the core of the series. In fact, the franchise focuses on the familial bond shared by the core characters to such a degree that the cast is uniquely responsible for the appeal of the series as a whole. With that in mind, it is time to look at the cast decisions behind the Fast and Furious movies.
When it came to selecting entries, actors who have only appeared in a single film in the series’ eight films (and counting) certainly were in the running, but those who have stuck around longer were given preferential placement. The actor also in question needs to have either been a welcome addition to the series as a whole or had a negative effect on it for one reason or another.
Here are 8 Casting Decisions That Hurt The Fast And Furious Movies (And 12 That Saved Them).
Saved: Chris “Ludacris” Bridges – Tej
In most cases when musical artists try to transition to acting, the results go from bad to worse. For that reason, when Ludacris agreed to appear in 2 Fast 2 Furious it seemed likely that he would embarrass himself and make that film worse. Instead, during his brief screen time, he managed to be likable enough that he was asked to reprise the role several sequels later.
From there, his character Tej Parker quickly became one of the most entertaining parts of the series mostly due to his surprisingly good comedic timing. Also proving to be good at spouting vaguely technical sounding jargon, he comes across as a believable hacker in a goofy action series like this.
Hurt: Ronda Rousey – Kara
Ronda Rousey medaled in judo at the Olympics, became the first ever UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, and is nw turning heads in the WWE. However, she is a human being who is perfectly capable of underperforming and at least so far, her acting career has been somewhat underwhelming.
Featured in movies like The Expendables 3, Mile 22, and most notably for this list Furious 7, she slays the action scenes but her dialogue comes off wooden.
While there is no doubt that her greatest strength on the big screen is her ability to intimidate, she could have made a lot more out of the opportunity to appear in this blockbuster franchise.
Rousey did shine in a more comedic role playing herself in the Entourage movie, so maybe she should move in a funnier direction.
Saved: Jason Statham – Deckard Shaw
Starting out his career in movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as well as Snatch, Jason Statham’s earliest performances mostly relied on how charming he is. However, once he starred in The Transporter, Statham became an action star and he has never looked back since.
Cast as Deckard Shaw, Furious 7’s main villain, he managed to be even more threatening than his onscreen brother– more on him later. However, his most impressive accomplishment in the franchise is that fans now see him as a hero of sorts even though his character viciously took out one of the series’ most lovable characters. It’s an impressive feat that most actors could never pull off. Staham’s ability to bring on the charm once again inspired most viewers to forgive his character.
Hurt: Shad “Bow Wow” Moss – Twinkie
Bow Wow became a popular rapper when he was only 11 years of age. Continuing to focus on his music for several years after that, from there he would transition into an acting career that arguably reached its zenith with the release of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
As Twinkie, friend to the main character, he did a serviceable enough job in the role, but in a series known for its charming supporting characters, serviceable isn’t really enough.
After all, many Fast and Furious actors were initially cast in minor roles only to be so lovable that they have become a mainstay of the series. Bow Wow fell way short of that level.
Saved: Gal Gadot – Gisele
Currently one of the biggest movie stars in the world, Gal Gadot is best known for playing Wonder Woman in the DCEU. However, years ago she made her film debut when she was cast as Gisele Yashar in Fast & Furious.
Captivating right from the start, she is one of the few outsiders that were recruited to join the core group of characters by Dom, despite lacking an extensive history with him. Chosen because she “isn’t afraid to throw down,” by the end of her first film in the series she’d become involved with Han Seoul-Oh. They turned out to be an incredible couple who are total equals. Due to their chemistry and Gadot’s quality performance, when she left the series it was one of the franchise’s saddest moments.
Hurt: Elsa Pataky – Elena
An extremely accomplished actor, model, and film producer, there is no doubt that Elsa Pataky is a talented person. Best known for her role in the Fast and Furious films, her first appearance in the series came as part of Fast Five. Cast as Elena Neves, a Rio police officer working with Hobb’s team to take down the franchises’ team of outlaws, her character still ended up becoming romantically entangled with Dom.
Featured in every film in the series since her debut, she likely will not be returning again since her character met her untimely demise in The Fate of the Furious.
Obviously meant to be the most emotional moment in that movie, unfortunately, the character wasn’t impactful enough to make her departure as meaningful as producers wanted.
Saved: Tyrese Gibson – Roman
2 Fast 2 Furious introduced two of the series’ best characters. Unlike Ludacris’ also stellar Tej Parker, Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce was one of that movie’s main characters, seemingly to fill the void left by Vin Diesel’s absence.
Fortunately, he was brought back for Fast Five and ever since then has become one of the series’ most consistently hilarious characters. Portrayed with perfect timing by Gibson, he manages to come off as a credible member of the core group in one moment and a lovable goofball the next. If that isn’t an indication of why Tyrese is a great addition to this series, then nothing is.
Hurt: Lucas Black – Sean Boswell
Still to this day considered to be one of the worst movies in this popular franchise, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift deserves to be held in higher esteem by fans of the series. With that in mind, it begs an obvious question: what led to its inferior reputation? At the end of the day, there are two main answers, the more obvious of which is the fact that it didn’t star a character that fans were attached to at the time.
The film’s lead character, Lucas Black’s Sean Boswell is about as entertaining as watching a hot dog bun go stale.
Attempting to adopt the gruff exterior of the franchise’s other lead characters, Lucas Black lacked the charisma to pull that off and instead seemed largely emotionless.
Saved: Paul Walker – Brian O’Conner
Probably the character who goes through the biggest change in the Fast and Furious franchise, Brian O’Conner starts out as an F.B.I. agent sent to infiltrate the world of street racing. However, after getting to know Dom, Mia, and Letty, he is inspired to embrace their way of life and works to keep them free.
Tragically no longer available to reprise his role in future Fast and Furious films, movie fans around the world were saddened when Paul Walker passed away prematurely. That led to the ultimate testament to how beloved his character was and why Walker was great in the role: wen Brian drove away for the final time, many audience members broke down in tears.
Hurt: Charlie Theron – Cipher
Charlize Theron is one of the best actors of her generation, if not of all time. Reading that may leave you befuddled as to why we believe that her casting in The Fate of the Furious hurt the franchise overall.
Funnily enough, she was far too talented to play the role she took on in the Fate of the Furious.
Cast as Cipher, the move’s cookie cutter villain, the character is so over the top evil that we half expected her to start twisting a mustache while cackling with fiendish delight. Deserving of so much better than that, it was distracting to see someone of her caliber in a role that was beneath her.
Saved: Luke Evans – Owen Shaw
One of those actors that viewers instantly recognize even if they don’t know him by name, Luke Evans has proven himself to be a very capable performer. After all, he has pulled off playing a long list of heroes and villains alike, including the downright evil Owen Shaw in Furious 7.
Unlike other villains from this series, he didn’t do awful things solely to acquire more power. Instead, he seemed to relish having control over his various underlings and using that to dismantle the lives of his enemies. The kind of character that would seem goofy in the hands of most actors, Evans managed to make the character entertaining and a huge threat to the series’ heroes.
Hurt: Kurt Russell – Mr. Nobody
Just like Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell is such a talented guy that most fans of the Fast and Furious franchise were overjoyed when they find out he’d agreed to be a part of it. Sadly, he and Theron have another thing in common: playing characters in this series that do not take advantage of their skills.
Russell played Mr. Nobody, and never has a character fit their name better.
In fact, if Russell had played a cartoonishly evil character that would be a huge improvement since Mr. Nobody has received very little screen time and has been pretty useless overall. With him only showing up occasionally to provide exposition, casting Kurt Russell as this character was pretty egregious.
Saved: Sung Kang – Han
By far the most unique character in the Fast and Furious franchise, there is something about Sung Kang’s performance as Han Seoul-Oh that instantly made him awesome. Not prone to jokes or speechifying like most of his co-stars, instead Han chose his words carefully and was more likely to open his mouth to eat something than actually speak.
It’s a description that may not sound riveting, but any time Han appeared on screen, he stole the scene from everyone else and he may be the best Fast and Furious character of all. In fact, he was so awesome in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift that producers messed with the franchise’s timeline so he could be brought back.
Hurt: Scott Eastwood – Little Nobody
Evidently not content to have only one character who is an obvious exposition machine, for some reason The Fate of the Furious introduced an underling for the already underwhelming Mr. Nobody.
The son of a Hollywood legend, Scott Eastwood plays a character that was given the downright silly name Little Nobody.
About as useless as his mentor, Eastwood’s version of pretty much the same character lacks the charm of his superior and his resemblance to his father is a bit of a distraction. Sharing many scenes with Kurt Russell, Eastwood’s inclusion in the movie led to a far less charismatic performer delivering the same lines as a master stood by and watched.
Saved: Michelle Rodriguez
A sad fact of Hollywood is that there is an overabundance of male action stars and an alarming lack of female ones. One of the few female actors to able to break down that wall, Michelle Rodriguez has stood out in movies like Resident Evil, S.W.A.T., Avatar, Machete, and several others.
With all of that in mind, it is fortunate for everyone involved behind the scenes of this franchise and its millions of fans that she was cast in one of its pivotal roles. On top of that, we can’t think of a single actor that could bring as much gravitas to playing the role of Letty, and when she appears with Vin Diesel, their chemistry lights up the screen.
Saved: Helen Mirren – Magdalene Shaw
Helen Mirren had an uncredited cameo in The Fate of the Furious as Magdalene Shaw. The mother of Luke Evans and Jason Statham’s Shaw brothers, it took a formidable actor to believably play the person that brought up those two tough characters.
Though only seen in a very brief scene so far, Mirren proved in that short moment that she could pull off the role effortlessly.
That said, our excitement about her inclusion in this series is largely based on our hopes that she will be given more to do in subsequent movies. If that never happens, it will be disappointing enough to make casting Mirren a mistake.
Saved: Nathalie Emmanuel – Ramsey
Introduced to many fans due to her work in the insanely popular show Game of Thrones, Nathalie Emmanuel’s character in that series spends many scenes standing silently in the background. However, she has received a select few moments in the spotlight and has made the most of them.
Cast as Ramsey in Furious 7, her character is an accomplished hacker who designed the “God’s Eye” device that brings together the world’s cameras to find anyone on the planet. Clearly a highly intelligent character, she took a backseat in The Fate and the Furious, but in the hands of Emmanuel, the character has enough potential that we look forward to seeing her do her thing.
Saved: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Hobbs
On the short list of the biggest movie stars in the world, when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appears in a movie people typically line up to see it. For that reason, it makes all the sense in the world that his involvement in Fast Five played a key role in that film’s overwhelming success and this franchise becoming a sensation.
If that weren’t enough of an indication of how important the Rock has become to the series, he also is set to star in the franchise’s first spin-off with Jason Statham, 2019’s Hobbs & Shaw. For all of those reasons, The Rock has become so important for the series, though he only joined five films into things.
Hurt: Jordanna Brewster – Mia Toretto
One of the stars of the original film in this series, Jordanna Brewster has appeared in five of the Fast and Furious films to date. In most cases we wouldn’t describe a character based on the relationships in their life but in the case of Mia Toretto, that really is all we can do. After all, it would be a huge challenge to describe Mia without bringing up her character’s brother Dom or longtime lover Brian.
It’s a problem that partly stems from how her character was written, but on top of that, Jordanna Brewster’s portrayal didn’t stand out.
Considering Mia appeared in 5 separate films, Brewster had lots of opportunities to bring make her character shine, but it just didn’t happen.
Saved: Vin Diesel – Dom Toretto
Unlike almost any other character in a mainstream action movie, Dominic Toretto can throw down with the best of them but at his core, he is a highly emotional person. Always going on and on about the importance of the family you choose, he is fiercely loyal to anyone that manages to earn his trust.
In order to pull off the character, Vin Diesel has to be a total monster in one moment and a sensitive soul in the next.
Able to achieve that feat every time, it also helps a lot that his deep and gravelly voice makes every speech he gives all the more compelling. Diesel is also instrumental to the film’s success on multiple levels– he’s a producer on the series and has a hand in casting.
Who’s your favorite actor in the Fast and Furious series? Let us know in the comments!