Tyrese Gibson is a formidable triple threat. The 32-year-old actor-rapper-author worked as a model and MTV VJ before he started putting out albums in 1998; from there he transitioned easily into films, where his chiseled features carved up the scenery in movies like "2 Fast 2 Furious," "Four Brothers," "Flight of the Phoenix," "Waist Deep," "Annapolis" and, more recently, "Death Race" and "Legion." He also starred in all three "Transformers" movies as USAF Sgt. Robert Epps.
Gibson returned as Roman Pearce for this year's "Fast Five," the hit fourth sequel to "The Fast and the Furious" that arrives on DVD and Blu-ray October 4. We got the fast-moving multi-hyphenate to take five and give us the 411 on his return to the franchise, what he speeds around in off-screen, and what he can tell us about his new book and first album since 2006.
"2 Fast 2 Furious" was back in 2003. After almost eight years, did you ever think you'd be playing Roman Pearce again in "Fast Five"?
No, but I really wanted to!
Did you and Paul Walker become tight off-screen after "2 Fast 2 Furious"?
Absolutely. We became friends before we shot, while we were shooting and after. I love Paul. He fought to bring me back to the franchise. Other people didn't want me back for whatever their reasons are, but Paul fought to get me back.
You are speeding around in a lot of stolen cop cars in "Fast Five." How much of that footage is actually you driving?
For safety reasons they don't allow us to do too much driving at all. It's kind of a bummer -- I'm one hell of a driver. It's understandable, though. They put us in these cars with a green screen behind us, and other times we are able to drive but not too much.
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel's characters call you back for their big heist in "Fast Five" because they say Roman can "bulls**t his way out of anything" and that he is a "fast talker." Would anyone ever say that about you in real life?
Yeah, I've been known to get myself out of some s**t. For real.
What is that sweet ride you are driving at the end of the movie that Roman says there are only four of in the world?
Oh man, it's so hard to pronounce the name of that car, but it's a Koenigsegg CCX-R. I know it cost about $3 million and I drove that one at every take. They have me in front of a green screen with these cheap cars for most of the movie, and then they have me driving the most expensive one around for real.
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"Fast Five" is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray on October 4. Did you return for any bonus features?
There's an extra called "Tyrese TV." It's a behind-the-scenes look at making "Fast Five" through my eyes. They had a camera crew on-set with me while I was shooting, and then I interviewed all of my costars.
What's faster and more furious: the cars in "Fast and Furious," or Michael Bay on the set of any of the "Transformers" movies?
The movies don't really compare. Michael Bay is very focused, driven and knows exactly what he wants. Everyone has to step up to the plate in order to keep up. He comes on the set and he's ready to go. He's very demanding of himself and others.
In real life, what do you drive, and do you drive it fast and furious?
I got a Maserati, a Bentley GT coupe, a Range Rover and an Excursion. I drive fast, absolutely. I've got police charm. When I get pulled over, I smile a lot and give them good energy and they let me go. [laughs]
You grew up in Watts. Is it true you were discovered on a bus?
The first gig I did was on a Coca-Cola commercial singing on the bus, so that was the start of my career. From a 30-second commercial to 17 years of some form of show business. It's only by God's design that that happens, sir.
Has anyone mentioned anything to you about another "Fast and Furious," movie and would you want to play Roman again?
I would love to do it again. At no point did it really ever feel like work. It's all over the Internet that we are supposed to be shooting in April. The writers are writing and, I don't know, we'll have to see what happens.
You've put out four albums with a new one on the way in November. Where is your heart nowadays -- with singing or acting?
This year alone I had "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "Fast Five," with something like $1.7 billion in box-office receipts. My book is a "New York Times" bestseller called "How to Get Out of Your Own Way." Then I've got my new album "Open Invitation" arriving on November 1. Come this Christmas, my family and I have to celebrate because we have a lot to be thankful for. "Open Invitation" is my best album and I did it independent this time, which is different for me. It was really done out of a labor of love to make people happy, and I feel really good about everything that has happened this year.