Interview: Michelle Rodriguez of 'Fast & Furious 6'
A returning fan favorite gets back in the mix in 'Fast 6'
With a death scene in "Fast and Furious 4" seemingly reversed by the tag in "Fast 5," Michelle Rodriguez's Letty -- the hard-driving lost love of Vin Diesel's Dom Toretto -- is somehow back in "Fast & Furious 6," with a touch of amnesia and more than a touch of charm. Rodriguez's laid-back toughness makes her a natural for these films, but sitting on a balcony in London she's animated and good-spirited -- making sure the crew has non-carbonated water, since the fizzy stuff doesn't hydrate as well, as she notes -- and more than willing to talk about Letty's unexpected shot at coming back from what seemed like the grave.
MSN Movies: When they said to you, "We have a way to bring you back that won't insult anyone's intelligence or ruin the franchise..." were you excited to go, "Hey, I can get back in here"?
Michelle Rodriguez: (Laughs) I was extraordinarily excited.
I mean were you like looking at them going, "But no, wait a second. You shot me. You can't get me back that easily"?
(Laughs) Well in 4, that was the whole point you know?
And that's probably why Vin didn't tell me about it, and I had to find out about my possible reprise in the role of Letty. The surprise came to me when in (I was) Paris and I bought a ticket to go see Vin Diesel go head to head with the Rock in "Fast & Furious 5," and then I see the tag ending. I'm like, "Dude, you didn't call me." I holler at him. I'm like, "What is going on?"
You didn't know until you saw the movie?
Well, he told me in 4...
And that's why we made so many windows for the possibility later. But I just didn't know that it would come to fruition.
Let me ask you this -- in this series you get to drive some great cars and do some great street racing, but what you do you drive in your regular life?
Is it fair to say that nobody wants an action series about people driving hybrids? "The Responsible and Recyclable? "
It's fair to say until you look at the new Spyder that Porsche is coming out with in 2014. And then you're like, "It's a hybrid."
Quieter, more dangerous.
It's the best of both worlds baby.
Let me ask you this. If you could just turn these films into your own auto lot and just pick any vehicle from them and go, "That one," which vehicle would...
Right. That's your dream vehicle?
Not my green vehicle.
No, your dream vehicle.
That's my dream vehicle.
Well, my dream vehicle is the Porsche hybrid that's going to come out next year.
It's $800,000 dollars. I don't have that kind of cash, unless you guys want to pay for it. (Laughs) But yeah, that's my dream car.
Right. And the Aventador probably gets the same gas mileage as the space shuttle?
Yeah, probably, yeah.
Yes, but it's so beautiful to drive. I took it out on the track here in London, and it is a beautiful vehicle.
A special little trip?
Yeah. I want a bigger straightaway.
Let me ask you this. What's the most egregious injury you've had doing these films? I mean Mr. Walker's blown out his knee, Mr. Diesel's had some cuts and bruises, but you, have you taken a hit for the team making these movies?
No. All I did was ... my dumb ass decided to take the pads out of the jacket because I didn't think it looked good, it made me look too muscular, and I ended up slamming my ... Gina slammed me against the car one too many times and I got a bruise from here to here. That's my own doofus-ness. I should have left the pad in.
That's certainly honorably earned, though.
Yeah man, I loved it. It was like my battle wound. "Look what I got doing 'Fast 6.'"
Right. It's not like you have a paper cut.
No, no. it was pretty big.
Do you have a regiment for these films? Or did you just go, "However I show up I'm going to look like a street racer should"?
Absolutely not. I got Tracy Anderson while I was out here. I went and was trained by her people out here in London just to keep in shape. Just because, you know, if I'm going up against Gina Carano in a feature I wanted to be credible, and I wanted to look good, and I also want to be in tune for a long two day shoot where I'm going to have to give it my all in every second I'm on that screen so...
When they said to you "You'll be fighting somebody who fights for real professionally," is that a little gulp moment where you just have to tighten up your resolve and do it?
No. Immediately what I think is (to the) writer, how credible is it, and (to the) stunt coordinator, and director, how can we make this look real.
That's my first priority. I don’t care if I'm getting beat up; I don’t care if I'm not getting beat up. Whatever's going to happen in the scene has to look real. And that's my big thing because I'm a critic.
I need to sit there and I need to look at it and be sold in order for me to be happy.
In an age where computers can make anything look real-ish, isn't it great to be part of a series where it's all about real cars, actual driving, and doing as much of your own fighting as you can?
Yeah, that is really, you know I've got to say I really respect how much sprinkling Justin does with the CGI. I mean the most CGI we see is the green screen that the actors do on their close-ups when they're driving and the wire work that's done, you know, because we can't do it on the highway.
But you know, I mean I just really love the sprinkling process because I really am a big fan of real stunts and the stunt guys. They put in a lot of work, and they do such a good job that I want to go to the Taurus Awards and watch them accept the cool award. With CGI films you don't see a lot of that.
It's the difference between creating something completely and just editing a little bit right?
No, it's awesome.
How amazing was the shoot in London? I know Glasgow was used was for some of the racing sequences, but how great was it to shoot in one of the biggest, most bustling cites of the world to do this crazy driving...
During the Olympics.
During the Olympics, right.
I mean come on, how do you top that?
You could raise the difficulty bar a little higher.
It was so epic.
I mean I wasn't too fond of the traffic because you literally would sit there for two hours just trying to get down the block. It reminded me of Moscow.
But I just really, I just love this damn city. It's just so cultured and like full of all sorts of different people from around the world. And Piccadilly Circle, to be able to shoot there, you know, and have it blocked off during the Olympics. And you're in London, which is a pretty snobby city to begin with.
So to get that kind of ticket and that kind of freedom says that they respect the franchise, and that was just kind of cool.
Mr. Lin said that they've only shut down Piccadilly two other times for movies, and I knew one of them was "An American Werewolf in London."
And he said another was one of the Harry Potter films. That's some pretty good company to be up in right?
That is some pretty damn good company, you know. Respect to London for that.
Has doing these films made you a better driver in your day-to-day life, or has it made you a slightly more dangerous driver in your day-to-day life?
I'd say better driver 'cause now I know when I want to have fun behind the wheel of a car and I want to take a vehicle, any vehicle, to the extreme I can go to a track and do it. And like, you know, before I never would've thought before dong the franchise, I never would've thought to go, "Alright, I'm bored. Let me go to Vegas. And let me hit a car racing school over there in Vegas. Or you know what? I'm here in London. I'm bored. Let me go to a track." Like I never would've thought that otherwise you know?
To find a good, safe place to hit 100 miles per hour and scream.
You have to because people suck, and cops suck. And unless you're doing a Gumball across Europe where you got 20 or 30 other people who could get caught behind you and get the speeding ticket...
(Laughs) You know what I mean? You're pretty much screwed trying it in the real streets.
Speaking of "The Gumball Rally," one final question. I've been asking everyone this. If we got all of you like off the lot, V8, Dodge Challengers, and had everybody hit the gas at the same time, cold start, who would win that race?
You know why I say that?
I'm very curious.
Because I'm the biggest fan of luxury cars, and everybody else likes that tuner or muscle s**t. (Laughs).
So you would just...
I'd be in the Aventador, and I'd be like on second gear, see ya! (Laughs) Second gear, 160. (Laughs)
What's interesting is that every person I've asked this question has said they would be the winner.
That's so funny.
So I think they might have a plot for "Fast 8" now.
We are so cocky. But nobody's thinking about what car they're driving.
The Aventador for you..
Yeah, yeah. Well, if that Porsche hybrid is out by the time we bring this to fruition it might be different. I might be using that hybrid.
For more on ""Fast and Furious 6," watch our video interview with the cast.
On the one hand, it is nice that the writer is truthful about their questions. On the other hand, I think I saw a few too many "Right". How about mixing it up a bit, or treating the interview a little more like a conversation?
Otherwise, good interview.