Director F. Gary Gray doesn't do the same film twice. After the critical and commercial success of his N.W.A. biopic, "Straight Outta Compton," he signed on to direct the anticipated eighth installment of the "Fast & Furious" franchise.
But jumping into the "Fast" franchise is no easy task. Last year's "Furious 7" was the box office hit that no one saw coming. With it's high-octane stakes, and a heartfelt goodbye to franchise star Paul Walker, "Furious 7" transcended into something more than popcorn entertainment: it became a pop culture phenomenon. Now, Gray has been tasked with revving up the momentum in "Furious 8" -- and he's bringing his signature style to the franchise.
"Universal brought me on to use my own lens, and that's what I'm here for," Gray told MTV News while promoting the upcoming Blu-ray release of "Straight Outta Compton."
When asked if he felt any pressure to top the death-defying stunts and raw emotion of its predecessor, Gray said, "I don't feel the pressure because I have my own point of view. We have a great team of artists involved, and I love the movies. I love the story I'm about to tell. I'm having a ton of fun -- I feel like a kid again. You'll see the manifestation of that on the screen. I'm just really excited about it."
In recent installments of the franchise, Dom and his crew have taken on bigger, badder adventures. Starting with the 2011 caper "Fast Five," which introduced Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to the franchise, the "Fast & Furious" films have increasingly defied logic and expectations, turning the series into a full-blow action franchise. It sounds like Gray and franchise star Vin Diesel might want to bring "Furious 8" back to the franchise’s street racing roots.
However, that doesn't mean Gray isn't excited to direct a few heart-pounding stunts of his own. Given Diesel's desire to bring "Furious 8" to New York City, the boroughs seem like the perfect setting for a jaw-dropping street race. Might we see Dom do something as ludicrous as drive up the Empire State Building in his beloved Dodge Charger? "Maybe," Gray said (with a hearty laugh).
Outside of challenging himself as a director, Gray's driving motivation for "Furious 8" has been the longtime fans of the franchise, the people who ride or die for Dom Toretto and his 1327 crew.
"I hope the fans love it in the way that we're loving it right now because the process has been phenomenal," he said. "Every 'Fast' has a different color, and I don't think the fans will be disappointed."
"Furious 8" hits theaters April 14, 2017. "Straight Outta Compton" is out on Blu-ray and DVD on January 19, 2016.