‘Fast Five’ Flashback: Diesel Out, Tyrese In For ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’

With the release of “Fast Five” only four days away, we turn now to the first fruits of the runaway success of “The Fast and the Furious” franchise – the sequel, “2 Fast 2 Furious”.

After the success of “The Fast and the Furious” in 2001, producers were quick to put the pedal to the medal on a follow-up. Although several members of the original cast walked away from a sequel, the producers pulled together a potent blend of original stars and talented newcomers to the franchise to turn this franchise’s sprint into a marathon.

The “Furious” Rundown
In “2 Fast 2 Furious,” Walker’s character of Brian O’Conner is on the run from the law after giving Vin Diesel’s character a pass. O’Conner travels cross-country to the high-life of Miami Beach to make a new life on the illegal street racing scene. Despite a talented new crew, the rogue ex-cop finds himself in need of back-up – and he finds it in a former-friend turned demolition derby driver Roman Pearce, played by Tyrese Gibson. Working with the FBI to get a clean record in exchange for uncovering a money laundering outfit, O’Conner and Pearce beat out the bad guys and pocket some of the stolen cash along the way.

With A Vin Diesel Shortage, “2 Fast 2 Furious” Finds A Fuel Alternative in Tyrese
Vin Diesel became the centerpiece for “The Fast and the Furious” in its original incarnation, but as soon as the idea for a sequel came up everyone was unsure if Diesel would sign on for a second trip. To cover all the options, Universal Studios commissioned two scripts for a sequel – one featuring Diesel’s character Dominic Torretto and one with him entirely absent. After Diesel turned down the movie in favor of working on “xXx,” the studio turned to another fast-rising star in the form of Tyrese Gibson. Although born out of the unavailability of Diesel, the casting of Gibson allowed Universal to expand the franchise’s universe and bring another memorable character into the fold.

A Miami State Of Mind
Although the first film was set in California, for the second installment of “The Fast and the Furious” franchise they turned to the sunny streets of Miami, Florida. As it turns out, Miami was mucho busy that time of the year – at one point, this film was sharing space with “Bad Boys II” shooting on a state park on nearby Key Biscayne.

Walker Shows His Real-Life Racing Skills
Although part of an ensemble cast, a lot of the weight for this follow-up rests on returning star Paul Walker – and it seems much like his “Fast Five” co-star the Rock, he brought it. Although Walker had an extensive interest in street racing even before the first film, it wasn’t until “2 Fast 2 Furious” that he was able to show off. The car he starts off with at the beginning of the movie? Paul’s. The powersliding stunt at the end of the first race? Paul himself. If that wasn’t enough, he also reportedly handpicked each and every single racing car seen in the movie.

Singleton Fills In The Vacant Director’s Chair, And Brings A New Edge To The Franchise
Although long-time independent filmmaker John Singleton had already experimented in mainstream film with the 2000 relaunch of “Shaft,” his guiding force on “2 Fast 2 Furious” in 2003 brought a new dimension to the camaraderie and action seen on screen. As a veteran of ensemble film shoots, Singleton encouraged his actors to stray from the script and improvise their lines with the moment. As such, Walker’s relationship with Gibson’s on-screen character is far more playful than his dynamic with Diesel in the previous film, and numerous humorous one-liners and real-life reaction shots that were ad-libbed made it into the final cut.

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