- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
After playing the character onscreen for 20 years dating back to the first The Fast and the Furious movie, the actor knew she had more to offer, so she lobbied director Justin Lin to up her action this time, texting the filmmaker about the action-chops she was picking up as a guest star on the Lin-produced TV show Magnum P.I. and through doing her own training.
Lin rewarded Brewster with a complicated fight sequence in Tokyo, among other big action moments in F9, which sees Mia and her brother Dom (Vin Diesel) track down estranged sibling Jacob (John Cena).
“I’ve heard throughout my career that if you want something done, show you can do it. That’s something that is very difficult for me to do. To advocate for myself,” Brewster tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It paid off.”
Those improved action chops will likely come in handy down the road, as Lin has two more Fast films he’s directing to wrap up the main series. There are also rumblings of a female-focused spinoff in the works. Though nothing has been announced officially on that front, Brewster wonders if going back to the basics could be a way forward.
“There is … the opportunity to downsize it and go back to our roots with 1, where there is a little less green screen and we don’t have to visit as many cool locations, so maybe it’s less of a risk for the studio and we can just make something awesome and run with it,” says Brewster.
In addition to the roster of women who have been in Fast — including Eva Mendes, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron and Nathalie Emmanuel — Brewster notes she and star Michelle Rodriguez have tossed around another name: Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
The only problem? The James Bond franchise already hired her as a writer on No Time to Die.
“Michelle and I were talking about her right before she started writing for Bond. We were like, ‘She would be so awesome.’ And then we were like, ‘Damnit! They snagged her,'” recalls Brewster. “I feel like Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s British, ironic humor would add a lot.”
In a conversation with THR, Brewster also reflects on putting small character moments into the film, such as wearing bracelets in honor of her late co-star Paul Walker and their two onscreen children.
You lobbied Justin for more stunts in this one and even texted him some of the stuff you were working on. At this point in your career have you found that’s what it takes to get results?
I’ve heard throughout my career that if you want something done, show you can do it. That’s something that is very difficult for me to do. To advocate for myself and be like, “I can do it! I’m funny. Look at this.” And “Oh, I can be an action star.” With Justin it’s much easier. I think this is my fifth film with him. We started on Annapolis so we’ve got this shorthand. Funnily enough, I was guest-starring on his show Magnum and I was like, “Wait a second, I’m toting a gun on this. I’m participating in the action. I might as well start texting this dude and show him that Mia can also kick some ass in the next Fast. It paid off. I’m really glad I did it.
How do you know when you’ve given Justin the take he wants on a Fast movie?
Justin will not stop until he gets it. He is such a perfectionist. I think he has the whole film in his head, in his mind’s eye. Even something as simple as a line reading, sometimes I’ll be like, “Justin, just give me the line reading. Tell me exactly what you want,” and he’s like, “Let’s just try again.” And he will just keep trying until he gets exactly what he wants. That’s how I know.
Which big scene were you more nervous about? The fight scene with Michelle Rodriguez or taking down an armored car with Sung Kang?
Definitely the action scene with Michelle in Tokyo, because that one involved a lot more training. I would train with our stunt team in London and we built a makeshift set with cardboard boxes, because the set wasn’t ready yet, despite the fact that we really wanted to get into the set to know exactly what we were dealing with. Whereas the armored truck sequence was we were surrounded by green screen. A lot of times with these action sequences, they are ten pages long. And it’s very difficult to envision them. Justin is really the only one who knows what’s going on. Half the time I don’t know what the hell I’m doing and I just see that it all comes together beautifully on the screen, whereas with the Tokyo scene I really had a handle on it and I knew that if I failed it was on me.
When you have something like that Tokyo scene, what do you have to do in the weeks before to prepare?
It depends on what kind of a fighter you are. With Michelle, it comes so naturally to her and she is a faster memorizer. So she doesn’t require as much preparation as I do. She, I think, learned the choreography in two days. She was a pro at it. Whereas I was the dork that was going to Leavesden every day for two weeks learning bit by bit and then recording it and then doing it at home. Having lobbied for it for months, I didn’t want to fail Justin and I couldn’t get to set and suck. So I really had to perform. There was all this pressure on me. But I also remember it’s really fun to bond with a stunt team. They are giving you advice on epsom salt baths and they’ve got those Theraguns after for when your muscles get sore. It’s really a badge of honor when you can perform on that level. It’s really gratifying.
You spoke earlier about working on line readings. How helpful is it for you to come up with a backstory for certain lines, like noting the kids are safe with Brian?
I’ll work with this amazing coach called Nancy Banks and I’ll work for months before so that when I get on set I can forget about all that stuff. There are also little sweet things that I did that don’t necessarily show in the film. I had three bracelets. I worked with Sanja (Milkovic Hays), our costume designer. I said, “I really want to wear something that says Brian, something that says Jack. Our daughter, I named her Olivia — I think Justin approved that. But I do think it’s really important to have continuity for the character and oftentimes, the fact that I can watch eight other movies, it’s a treasure trove of research. It comes up in 9 we have a brother and now we have context with our dad, so that in and of itself has done a lot of work for me, so I’ll definitely use that in the future.
Vin has been talking for some time about a female-fronted spinoff. How much do you allow yourself to hope and dream about projects like that, even if they aren’t greenlit? There are certainly a lot of cool people who could be in it.
We could have Eva Mendes in it. Helen Mirren could be in it. Charlize Theron could be in it. There are so many ways we could go. The great news is we all love each other. I love working with Nathalie. I love working with Michelle. I think it would be really fun. There is also the opportunity to downsize it and go back to our roots with 1, where there is a little less green screen and we don’t have to visit as many cool locations, so maybe it’s less of a risk for the studio and we can just make something awesome and run with it. I think it’d be a lot of fun.
Justin has said Betty White is his dream casting for future Fast movies. Who comes to mind for you?
I would see Phoebe Waller-Bridge to join. It’s funny, because Michelle and I were talking about her right before she started writing for Bond. We were like, “She would be so awesome.” And then we were like, “Damnit! They snagged her.” I think she would be great, because Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) bring so much humor. Which I think you need. There’s so much intensity within the film and so many times you watch these six-minute action sequences and you are just like dying. And then Roman and Tej will lighten it up. I feel like Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s British, ironic humor would add a lot.
You and Vin both had kids working on this movie. what was it like having your son? Does he want to follow in your footsteps?
Yes, he does. He has excellent comedic timing. He’s seven. He’s extremely charming and he also has this quality that I had when I was much younger, which is he has so much charm and I feel like he’s going to come to the premiere as well. So it’s really nice that he gets to see. “Mom, you are working again? You are getting up at six?” It’s really important he gets to see the flip side two and how much work it takes.
Despite having been on a lot of big projects by 2011, on Fast Five you were star-struck and even intimidated working with someone like Dwayne Johnson. Does your son have that? Or is he not star-struck?
My son does get star-struck. He was super psyched about seeing John Cena, but then that sense of reverence fades quickly. He was completely obsessed with sung Kang and every time he would visit set, he was like, “I want to go talk to Sung!” They would have these hour-long conversations about cars and we all went to dinner once. I remember I would start talking to Sung and he was like, “I’m talking to sung.” It was like, “dude!” we are going to see how it goes at the premiere. He’s just going to talk to everyone like they are his buddy. It will be very sweet.
What comes to mind when you think of meeting Vin on the first Fast?
I remember the table read. I remember he was coming off of Saving Private Ryan and Paul was coming off of Rob Cohen’s movie The Skulls and Michelle was coming off of Girl Fight. I remember feeling like a fish out of water and just being like, “Oh my Gosh.” Then I also loved Vin’s approach. A lot of people don’t recognize this or just see this part of Vin. There was this Cuban restaurant called Versailles in L.A. He said, “We’re going to go there and talk about our characters and our history.” It was so cool to me that he wanted to flesh that out and really think about that. He really is so meticulous and has so much love for this franchise. It began all the way back then. He wasn’t one of these actors who is like, “I’m going to collect my paycheck and be done with this.” He really put so much heart and thought into the role.
F9 is in theaters now.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day