The Fast and Furious franchise is one of the most popular and successful film franchises of all time. It’s pretty spectacular when you think about it, considering that it was originally meant to be a simple one-off action film. But it’s spawned a following that is hard to fathom, and a combined box office gross of $5 billion, making it the sixth highest-grossing franchise of all time. It’s also spawned spin-offs (like the upcoming Hobbs & Shaw), and has launched the careers of many actors into superstardom.
With such a popular franchise at hand, it’s easy to imagine the countless rumors and urban legends that follow such success. Every continuing film franchise has them: rumormongers who try to guess every little thing that’s coming up, even before those films have been released. That’s why leaked storylines and scripts and scenes are such a huge deal, and why producers work so hard to keep things tightly under wraps, because no one likes to be spoiled.
But not everything you hear from the rumor mills is true. There are just as many false urban legends as there are amazing true ones—more, perhaps. And it’s not always easy to bottle up a myth once it’s been let out of Pandora’s Box. There are little known facts that fly under the radar all the time, however, and some of these things might impress or surprise even the most ardent fan.
Here we will run off a list of 10 urban legends from Fast and Furious that are true, and 10 that definitely are not.
20 True: The First Film Got Its Name From A Different Film
Let’s start off with a bang: in 1955, producer Roger Corman released a film starring Oscar-nominated actor John Ireland (the director of the film), and Oscar-winning actress Dorothy Malone. It was about a truck driver’s run from the law after being falsely accused of a crime. The two actors fall in love while driving around in a sporty Jaguar. The film also happened to be called The Fast and the Furious. The story goes that a producer of the 2001 film of the same name saw the film in a magazine ad, which is what sparked his imagined dream of the blockbuster franchise.
19 False: All Of The Major Stunts Were Fake
One thing that sticks out in the Fast and Furious movies, for audiences, is the disbelief when seeing some of the stunts. It leaves you wondering, “That couldn’t have been real, could it have?” and scratching your head, thinking the producers have gone too far. But, in fact, some of the craziest stunts in the entire franchise were actually authentic! The memorable car drop in Furious 7? That was real, according to stunt coordinators. It was achieved by composing two separate stunts, first involving dropping the cars from a plane, and then lifting a few cars above the ground before they slid down. The Camaro-to-yacht jump in 2 Fast 2 Furious and the tanker robbery in Fast & Furious also contained degrees of realism.
18 True: Dwayne Johnson Wasn’t Always Envisioned In The Films
This might seem hard to believe now that The Rock is such an integral part of the franchise, even going so far as to get his own spin-off film with Jason Statham, but this is true. Dwayne Johnson, who plays Luke Hobbs, first starting in Fast Five, was not originally wanted for the role. Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones was the person the producers envisioned. In a Facebook video, Vin Diesel revealed that the decision to swap Jones for Johnson came from one fan’s wish, who said, “There was a girl named Jen Kelly who said, ‘I would love to see [you and Johnson] work together.’” So, Diesel made it happen, and the rest is history!
17 False: The Actors Are One Big Happy Family
It’s true that everyone who has starred in a Fast and Furious film considers themselves part of the “Fast and Furious family.” And it’s a big family. But that doesn’t mean it’s always been a HAPPY family! Perhaps Diesel regrets signing Johnson on, because the two haven’t always gotten along. While filming Fate of the Furious, Dwayne took to social media to call out some of his male co-stars, including a shot at Diesel. Tyrese Gibson also expressed his dislike with Johnson’s spin-off film in a social media rant. The feuds have cooled down recently, but who knows how long that will last?
16 True: Legendary Cameo Appearance In Tokyo Drift
People in the racing community know the legend of Keiichi Tsuchiya, the 63-year-old professional race car driver known as the Drift King, but most people watching Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift wouldn’t know him from Steve. Of course, the actors in the film aren’t really race car drivers (though some of them did their own stunts), but they did manage to feature Tsuchiya, although not behind the wheel of a car. In Tokyo Drift, Tsuchiya actually played a fisherman, of all things, and made fun of Sean Boswell while he was trying to improve his drifting skills! How’s that for soul-crushing, when a fisherman who’s actually a real drifter calls your drifting skills “Meh.”
15 False: They Put An Audio System In Dom’s Mazda RX-7
The movies do now always reflect how things play out in real life. Pretty much 90% of the crazy stunts in the Fast and Furious would never happen, but that’s a story for a different day. The filmmakers did do a great job of modding the cars, though, using real wraps and aftermarket auto parts, such as Vin Diesel’s Mazda RX-7 and its Veilside body kit. And if you remember the awesome sound system blasting tunes from the car, you might be disappointed to hear that it’s fake. According to the technical advisor for the first three films, Craig Lieberman, shots of Diesel’s sound system were from a different car entirely.
14 True: Michelle Rodriguez Didn’t Know Either
In lots of films and television shows, depending on who the actor or actress is, they might not get the inside scoop on a big moment (such as their character biting the dust) until that big moment is actually being filmed. Even though Letty, played by Michelle Rodriguez, seemingly bought the farm early in the series, the producers knew a moneymaker when they saw one and found a way to bring her back for future installments. But the crazy part was revealed in a post-credits scene, when Rodriguez confirmed that she had no idea her character was back from the grave until she saw the scene herself! She must have been stoked to find she was back in one of the biggest moneymaking franchises of all time!
13 False: The Producers Have Any Car At Their Disposal
No matter how much money your film franchise makes, or how popular it is, there are simply some carmakers that couldn’t care less. Yes, there are many car companies that would do anything to be endorsed by films such as Fast and the Furious, because it leads to huge sales. But take this story for example: In Furious 7, the 2014 Lykan HyperSport, a $3.4-million supercar, was featured, making it the most expensive car ever shown in the films. But that wasn’t the producers’ original choice. They were hoping to get a Ferrari LaFerrari, but as Dennis McCarthy said on Top Gear, “You have to have owned a number of Ferraris before, and get approved by Ferrari to buy one.”
12 True: The Film Crew Bought Parts On Ebay
This sort of goes in line with the “false” entry above—you would assume that when you have millions of dollars at your disposal, you could get any aftermarket part you wanted for your franchise’s car mods. But that’s not the case, because those millions have to be divvied up into buying sets, actors, scripts, endorsements, and many other things. Being that the cars required lots of mods and extra work, the producers were always on the market for car parts, and they had to make decisions based on a budget. That meant they had to turn to cheaper aftermarket parts, such as $50 mufflers that Craig Lieberman said they bought for the Civics in the original film.
11 False: All The Supras Were Turbocharged
The most infamous Toyota Supra engine is the 2JZ, an inline-six, air-cooled, twin-turbocharged block that was manufactured from 1991 to 2002. It put the Supras on the modding map, so to speak. And one would assume that all the Toyota Supras in the F&F franchise, such as Brian’s 1994 Supra Turbo, were special because of their turbocharged engines. But even though Brian’s was turbocharged, doesn’t mean they all were. According to Craig Lieberman, they had four cars that looked like the Supra, but only one of them was turbocharged. It was also yellow when they first rented it out, not the iconic orange that we’ve come to know and love.
10 True: Some Cars Hardly Worked
Remember when we were talking about budgets, and the producers not getting every car they wanted? Well, this is on the extreme end of that list—the fact that some of the cars featured in the films zooming along weren’t even on in real life. The 240SX and RX-7, for instance, had their engines completely turned off for certain shots, but had sounds effects added to make them sound monstrous. In the lineup that the 240SX and RX-7 pulled up to, according to Lieberman, there was a whole crew pushing the cars from behind, hidden out of view. It’s not very glamorous, sure, but that’s the kind of work that goes into making the films and keeping the illusion alive.
9 False: Vin Diesel Bit The Dust After A Failed Stunt Attempt
This one might sound silly, but you would be surprised how many celebrity rumors make the rounds that people believe (look up Paul McCartney Clone, for instance). One of the popular gossips that rumor mills pumped out from the F&F franchise regarded the films’ lead star, Vin Diesel. PolitiFacts reports a rumor that Diesel met a tragic end after failing to perform a stunt on set. This was clearly false, mainly for the fact that stunt doubles did almost every one of Diesel’s stunts in the Fast and Furious films. That’s what they’re there for. Rumors plague actors all the time, though, and this is just one Diesel will have to LIVE with . . . heh.
8 True: Some Cars End Up In Museums, Some Don’t
Not every car featured in the Fast and Furious franchise is treated equally. First off, they don’t all have the same amount of importance or screen time. A car like Brian’s 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse, for instance, which everyone recognizes, made it into the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. But all of the Civics from the first film fell on the opposite extreme, according to a technical advisor who worked on the film. The production team treated these cars as if they were “disposable,” which they truly became after filming, because they’ve been spotted in junkyards collecting dust and rotting away. That being the case, the crew wasn’t afraid to push them hard or drive them into the dirt, though.
7 False: All The Cars Are Real
Fast and Furious, especially the first few movies, is famous because of its awesome stunts and amazing cars. Most of the cars on screen were actually there, but not all of them. CGI is responsible for creating some of the cars, and other times, adding special things to bare-bones cars that were built just to get from A to B. All of the cars in the franchise were stripped of their original engines and replaced with Dodge or Chevy V8s, Top Gear reports. Other cars didn’t even exist but were fabricated purely from CGI, in order to pull off a crazy stunt or to act as an “extra” of sorts.
6 True: Cars Get Re-Modified All The Time
There’s only so many Honda Civics that the production team wants to buy. This is just an example, but what I mean to say is that cars in the Fast & Furious franchise are often reused. When fans see cars they love on screen, they imagine that car in the exact same style, with the exact same paint job, forever. In reality, the work that goes into transforming these cars is much more drastic. Letty’s Nissan 240SX, for example, went through some major changes before it was film-ready. It got a new paint job and body kit, and then after filming, it was repainted again for a new owner (and others were repainted for use in the next film in the franchise).
5 False: The Film Crew Treated The Cars Well
This should come as no surprise, based on how many cars we see get destroyed in the films. Of course, not all the cars that were demolished in the Fast & Furious franchise were actually demolished. That’s all part of the beauty of filmmaking. But to think that these cars were treated properly or primly is naïve. The Civics during the heist, for example, were not treated well at all when they were used in the first film (probably because the crew thought it would be the one and only film). Afterward, the Civics ended up stowed away in a California warehouse, covered in dirt.
4 True: Vin Diesel Had A Tight Fit
This should come as no surprise, seeing as that Vin Diesel is a pretty big guy. Shaq has had to modify nearly every car he’s ever owned so he could fit inside them, for instance, though he’s definitely in a league all his own. But Craig Lieberman told Fast and Furious Facts that Diesel actually had trouble fitting inside his RX-7 at first. It had to do with the roll cage, and once they took it out, he had no problems. But that just goes to show that even though actors make it look easy and convincing, that’s not always the case. Don’t let it suspend your disbelief, however!
3 False: Lucas Black Was Going To Replace Paul Walker
This could technically still happen, sadly, but this news first made the rounds leading up to The Fate of the Furious. With Paul Walker’s sudden and tragic passing, the Fast and Furious family, and fans of the franchise were shocked. They were struck a blow on a personal level and it put the whole franchise’s future in doubt. The filmmakers explored numerous ideas on what they could do, including replacing Walker with Lucas Black, who first appeared in Tokyo Drift. This never happened, and it’s probably for the best because that might’ve tarnished Walker’s epic legacy, had anything gone wrong.
2 True: Carmakers Loan Out Cars To The Franchise
Budgeting is an important aspect of any film. A wise band once said, “You can’t always get what you want” (that was the Rolling Stones). The filmmakers weren’t completely on their own when it came to making the cars in the films, though, and carmakers often lent a helping hand. It was a win-win, because the carmaker got an awesome endorsement, and the franchise got an awesome car. Who wouldn’t want their model to appear in a blockbuster movie seen around the world? Mitsubishi, for example, loaned out many 202 Evolution VIIs. The cars didn’t have taillights, so those had to be added before Tej and Brian could drive them in 2 Fast 2 Furious, but nothing’s every easy, right?
1 False: Cars Had Actual Nitrous Systems Inside Them
Practically every car in every film in the franchise had a sweet shot of blue nitrous tanks loaded up inside them. That was one of the main things that made them go extra fast, after all. The nitrous oxide systems were a recurring device in the films, and really brought the idea to the forefront of mainstream racing. It’s referenced by Brian O’Conner, Letty, Dom, and others. But the truth is more mundane. According to Craig Lieberman, in the first three films at least, no real NOS tanks were ever used in the actual cars. It’s a blow to the fans, probably, but also much safer and unnecessary, if you think about it.
References: Fastandfuriousfacts.com, topgear.com, politifact.com, mentalfloss.com