The 15th anniversary of “The Fast and the Furious” is upon us, and to celebrate the legacy of a movie that inexplicably spawned seven sequels, the always candid Michelle Rodriguez is here to confuse us.
Rodriguez, who is currently training for “Fast 8” (💰💰💰), spoke with Entertainment Weekly about her early memories on set with the franchise’s late star, Paul Walker, whom we apparently all misunderstood.
When asked how she remembers the first film now, after Walker died tragically in a car crash in 2013, Rodriguez presents an alternate version of the blond and blue-eyed actor, who consistently played the rich or preppy white guy in movies throughout the ’90s and early aughts.
What he embodied in one persona is almost impossible to find out there. He had a swag to him. He wasn’t just another Caucasian male. He had some something that united him to the streets, that made him a little bit edgier than everybody else. He may have looked like a Barbie Doll, or a Ken Doll, and that’s one aspect of him. He had something in his eyes that showed the pain of understanding what it is to be on the other side of the tracks.
That’s something that’s very important to carry in this franchise, the credibility of the characters. You really believe that these are the people who live on the other side of the tracks. And it’s because a lot of us really did come from the other side of the tracks. [laughs] Paul’s not your goody-two-shoes. He never was. He’s kind of like the lead singer of Sublime without the drugs. It’s all in the eyes. You can try to cast a movie like this 10 times over, but it’s really about that specific type of credibility. When you look at Tyrese Gibson, you think Crenshaw. When you look at Michelle Rodriguez, you think of Jersey City. When you look at Vin Diesel, you think of New York. And when you look at Paul, you think of Crenshaw! The only white boy in Crenshaw! He was a Valley boy, but more of the bad boy in the Valley.
After Walker’s death, Rodriguez revealed that she went into a bit of a tailspin, struggling to cope with the profound loss of a dear friend.
“I actually went on a bit of a binge,” the 36-year-old told Entertainment Weekly. “I went crazy a little bit — I went pretty crazy. A lot of the stuff I did last year I would never do had I been in my right mind,” she added.
But Rodriguez eventually found her footing, relying on fellow co-stars like Vin Diesel for support as she coped with the tragedy.
“I just woke up with a profound respect for living,” she said. “I stood tall one day and I said, ‘You know what, Michelle? Stop fucking hiding. Go manifest.’ And all of a sudden, I picked myself up and started hustling.”
For more from Rodriguez, head over to Entertainment Weekly for the full interview.