by Caroline Frost
In between all the familiar faces doing their worst for the sixth outing of the Fast and Furious franchise, you may recognize a couple of new recruits getting behind the wheel…
Welsh actor Luke Evans (“Three Musketeers,” “The Hobbit”) and mixed martial artist turned actress Gina Carano (“Haywire”) are the latest names on the roll call, and they both admit turning up for work with Vin Diesel and company on day one was a little bit intimidating…
“It was quite weird, to be honest, because they’ve known each other for 10 years,” admits Evans, in between takes on the bitterly cold production set, 20 miles outside London.
“As always happens on big movies, they forget to introduce you. I hadn’t had the chance to meet them, and the first scene I shot on this film is almost the end of the film, when they think they’ve caught my character. I’m handcuffed, with a bloody face, and it’s the whole team, and my first introduction is to shake hands with a handcuff.
“I had to insult a lot of them, get dragged down the stairs by Dwayne (Johnson), get punched in the face by Paul (Walker), and then eyeballed by Vin. This is the movies for you, you never get the normal introduction you would in any other job. And I think they’re probably enjoying the fact there’s a new boy, different to them, bringing a new energy, another dynamic.”
Gina had her own anxieties… “I was nervous, like I get with everybody. I’m used to watching these movies, so in the first take I had to remind myself, I’m in this.
“I had to do this look over my shoulder, and all I could think of was Zoolander, I had to get that out of my head. But it’s not easy to be that vulnerable in a whole room of people. This is the second movie I’ve gotten (after taking the lead in ‘Haywire’), so I take it really seriously, but what this business helps you also do is laugh at yourself a little.”
A quick run-down on their characters: Gina plays Reilly, one of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson‘s team. They’re all being very elliptical today about plot but, according to Gina, “she’s got some cool twists and turns throughout the movie, which I think you should be surprised by.”
Meanwhile, Luke is relishing getting his acting chops around villain Owen Shaw, ex-SAS veteran, who’s busy hijacking military technology and selling it for vast sums round the world. He’s, arguably, the first archetypal villain to come up against the Fast and Furious team, but Luke admits to more than a sneaking respect for his baddie…
“He’s British, painfully good-looking… drives very nice cars. He’s not what you’d expect from a British villain. Everyone was saying, ‘Oh, you’re going to have a plummy accent, and a furry cat, a white swivel chair,’ but there’s none of that. He can stand up to these guys and do stuff that they can’t do, with weapons and machinery that they’ve never seen, can get inside the bonnet of a car… ” okay, okay, Luke, we get the message, he’s The Man. Oh no, he’s still going… “he’s very clever, he’s articulate, he has an agenda, he’s very precise in his work, he leaves nothing behind, and what’s great in the film, he’s constantly one step ahead and they cannot understand why.”
For Luke, preparation involved tapping his usual resources of military pals, colleagues and knowledge…
“There are certain things they’d say, or hold stuff, or speak, or not speak… my Marine friend said sometimes they’d arrive late at night on a camp and set up and they wouldn’t speak, they’d just sit there cleaning their weapons, they’d just go to bed and the following morning they’d be gone, and there was no mark of them on the floor, no one woke up when they left, that’s the sort of people we’re talking about, they are the special forces.
“It’s quite a responsibility really, but it’s good, it’s a challenge, it’s what you do, I’ve gone from shooting dragons to shooting people.” (Presumably he is referring to his time in New Zealand for the past year, filming “The Hobbit.”)
For Gina, her biggest responsibility was holding back on her martial arts skills (formerly the world’s third-ranked 66kg fighter), and not actually hurting anybody, which upsets her when she doesn’t know her own strength on set against unsuspecting types…
“It’s bad, because I’m the one who’s supposed to be in control. I don’t want to come over like this Steven Segal figure. One time, I was up against a stunt woman and she said ‘make it real’ and it landed way harder than it was meant to. Everyone in the room was like ‘aaawww’ you feel like a real a***hole, it’s not an ego boost. I take it very seriously, so more people want to work with me.”
Despite her physical skills, Gina is, perhaps understandably in the company of Fast and Furious veterans Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker and the indomitable Vin Diesel, palpably humble about her intern status in her adopted profession. This is despite having a quality spotted early on by an educated eye…
“I’d lost my last fight, and my agent called. I had a black eye, I didn’t want to see anyone, and I didn’t know who Steven Soderbergh was. But he had lunch with me, and just asked if I wanted to be in a movie. So I said, ‘Yes.’
“But just as you get humbled every day you go to the gym, the same way, you get humbled every day you get to the set – two parallel worlds of adrenaline-like circumstances.
“Since then, I’ve taken acting classes. I’ve realized it’s something you train for. Some days I walk away thinking ‘Nooo’ and sometimes I think ‘Ah, I got something there.'”
Five-year movie veteran Luke seems far less worried about his place in the firmament. Instead, he sounds sufficiently oiled to get down and dirty with the best of them, including getting behind the wheel of the cars that are an integral part of the Fast and Furious franchise…
“As much as I’m able to, I love doing stunts, I think that’s part of why I do films like this. We’ve been training for three months. We’re going to Tenerife to do a big stunt next. It’s great, gets the adrenaline going… I mean, you’d never do it otherwise, would you? Jump off a car that’s moving down a motorway, can’t do that in London… “
Fast & Furious 6 will be released on May 24, 2013 and stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky, Gina Carano
For more info on the sixth installment of the series: