When The Fast and the Furious was released in 2001, no one could anticipate the worldwide phenomenon it would eventually become, spawning six sequels (plus two short films), grossing over $2.38 billion, and making international stars out of Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster.
Of course, with that many films and, at one point, 13 characters in just one film, there’s a lot of backstory and mythology surrounding the Fast & Furious franchise.
So ahead of the debut of Furious 7, take a look back at all the fun facts surrounding the making of the movie, including who originally wanted out of the first film, the actor who asked for a role in the franchise after it became a big hit, and the Easter egg that connects the worlds of Fast & Furious and Herbie.
1. The film series was inspired by a 1998 May Vibe article on street racing, “Racer X,” which chronicled the story of Rafael “Racer X” Estevez and illegal street-racing in New York.
2. The plot of The Fast and the Furious is considered to be an unofficial remake of Pointe Break starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves.
3. The Fast & Furious franchise exists in the same universe as Herbie: Fully Loaded thanks to an Easter egg shot of Dom’s rolled-over Charger in a junkyard scene from the Lindsay Lohan film.
4. Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6 were designed as an internal trilogy.
5. Starting with Fast Five, Universal Studios and longtime screenwriter Chris Morgan transformed the franchise into a heist series rather than films about racing in order to keep making sequels.
6. The sixth and seventh sequels were originally supposed to be written and filmed simultaneously while also addressing Eva Mendes cameo as Monica Fuentes at the end of Fast Five.
7. Diesel’s love for Dungeons & Dragons led to director Justin Lin to incorporate more of a mythology into the series.
8. Han Seoul-Oh’s death in the third film means that Furious 7 is a direct sequel to The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and four through six are prequels. The story order goes:
The Fast and the
Furious – June 22, 2001
2 Fast 2 Furious – June 6, 2003
Fast & Furious – April 3, 2009
Fast Five – April 20, 2011
Fast & Furious 6 – May 24, 2013
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift – June 16, 2006
Furious 7 – April 3, 2015
9. Christian Bale, Eminem, and Mark Wahlberg were all considered before Walker was cast as the franchise’s main protagonist, Brian O’Conner.
10. Rodriguez almost quit the first film because her character, Letty Ortiz, was supposed to cheat on Dom with Brian.
11. It has been rumored that Bijou Phillips, Jessica Biel, Kirsten Dunst, Natalie Portman, and Sarah Michelle Gellar auditioned for the role of Mia, which was reportedly written for Eliza Dushku. The part went to Brewster.
12. Both Brewster and Rodriguez didn’t know how to drive prior to joining the first film. Both actresses had to get their licenses in order to join the cast.
13. Tej Parker, who was introduced in 2 Fast 2 Furious, was supposed to be played by Redman. Ludacris replaced the rapper after scheduling conflicts forced him to pull out.
14. While Han Seoul-Oh (played by Sung Kang) makes his first appearance in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the character actually originated in the Asian American indie-drama, Better Luck Tomorrow.
15. Diesel only agreed to make a cameo at the end of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in exchange for ownership rights of the Chronicles of Riddick franchise.
16. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson approached Universal, asking to be a part of the Fast & Furious franchise. He joined as Luke Hobbs in Fast Five.
17. The Luke Hobbs character was originally written for Tommy Lee Jones or Josh Brolin.
18. Tyrese Gibson (who plays Roman Pearce) filmed Fast Five and Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the same time, forcing him to fly between Atlanta and Puerto Rico to complete both.
19. Rodriguez had no idea her character was still alive until she saw the twist ending during a screening of Fast Five.
20. The characters Letty and Brian don’t actually speak to each other until Fast & Furious 6.
21. Denzel Washington turned down an unspecified, “big part” in Furious 7.
22. Dame Helen Mirren wants to be a “mad driver” in the Fast & Furious franchise.
23. A number of cameos have been made by rappers and singers, including Ja Rule (The Fast and the Furious), Bow Wow (Tokyo Drift), Don Omar and Tego Calderon (Fast & Furious, Fast Five) Rita Ora (Fast & Furious 6), and Iggy Azalea (Furious 7).
24. 2 Fast 2 Furious was directed by John Singleton, the Oscar-nominated director behind Boyz n the Hood and, most recently, an episode of Empire.
25. The Skyline GT-R featured in 2 Fast 2 Furious was actually Walker’s own car.
26. Lin -- director of Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6 -- says that Robert Altman, who has directed a number of ensemble features, inspired the sixth film, which featured 13 characters.
27. Rio de Janeiro’s car chase scenes in Fast Five were actually shot in Puerto Rico.
28. The scene with Dom smashing his car through the nose of a cargo aircraft was originally conceived for Fast & Furious but didn’t make it into the movie until Fast & Furious 6.
29. Vulture estimates that the runway in the film had to be 28.829 miles long in order to accommodate the whole scene. (The longest real-life runway is 7.5 miles long.)
As for the fact that Mirren wants to join the franchise, Diesel has a few ideas of who she could play: