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Justin Lin Talks F9 And The Fast Franchise's Unpredictable Future - Exclusive Interview

On September 15, to celebrate the "F9" director's cut, Universal Pictures hosted the F9 Fest on the Universal Backlot. Press members, influencers, and lucky fans attended the day-long event, which featured — among other things — interviews with the cast and crew, a preview of a "Fast" franchise museum, and a Family barbecue. Not a bad way to promote the new cut, which features a deeper exploration of the Toretto sibling rivalry, a more explosive climax, and (perhaps most importantly) a new scene featuring Cardi B.

Looper was not able to attend the event, but we did have a chance to Zoom in and speak with "F9" director Justin Lin. We talked about how big the "Fast" universe has gotten, the importance of diversity in storytelling, and where the franchise literally goes now that the crew has been to space. He also compared working with two WWE legends turned actors.

A growing universe and diversity in storytelling

Let's start with how big the "Fast" universe has gotten. We've got "F9." You got a two part movie coming up. You got "Spy Racers." You got all these spinoffs and it's starting to feel very like the shared universes that are so popular in Hollywood right now. Are you looking to other shared universes, like say the MCU, for inspiration?

I have to say, I think as a filmmaker, I've been exposed to and had conversations. I didn't grow up as a comic book kid. I never could connect on those levels, and I think that ours is very unique in that we're not IP based and a lot of our characters, as we're developing new chapters, we're acknowledging their growth and evolution. I do think that there's an appetite for narratives and stories, and I can tell you every time we do one of these movies, every time we wrap, I feel like, "Wow, There's three other movies' worth in there." Because whether it's talking to Sung or even Tyrese or Jordana or Michelle, most of our conversations deal with things that you actually don't see onscreen, just because the pure size of our cast. It's so big now that I think you only get glimpses of time and space when they get together.

Yeah. I think that ... I don't know. I'm trying to answer your question, but I do think that, being in my chair, I feel like there's always these really interesting stories and my job is to, hopefully, not only tell it in our films but find the appropriate medium to be able to somehow share these stories with the fans.

Let's talk a little bit about the diversity here. The "Fast" series is known for its diversity. And the last few years have seen especially Asian stories come to the forefront. We got "Shang-Chi" this year. We had "Minari," and a lot of that can be traced back to a little movie, "Better Luck Tomorrow." "Better Luck Tomorrow" kind of led to Han, which led to this in many ways. How do you feel being part of all of that?

Look, I think as a film fan, I always think that diversity in stories, we all benefit as a world, right? To be able to share these points of view and journeys that we're not privy to in real life. I think we all benefit from that. Personally, I think when I started, it was definitely a very different world, and to be able to be part of it and to see talent and great filmmakers get the opportunity. It's always great. Not just Asian American, but just seeing great films and great stories being told.

Where to go after space and the Rock vs John Cena

This movie sees the crew go to space for a little bit. And when you go to space, I mean, "where else is there to go?" is usually a figurative question. Here, it is a literal question. Where else is there to go once you've been to space?

Yeah. That's a great question. I feel like it's not something that I sit there and try to figure out in the literal sense. It felt like, as we were exploring and wanting to present this film, a lot of these ideas that'd been floating around, I think for us internally, just kind of came through. I think we wanted to try something that we'd never done before. But I hope that as we grow, it's not a literal discourse. It's something that as we grow, hopefully, especially I think coming to this final chapter, that's not what I wake up asking. I'm trying to, hopefully, honor these conversations I've been having for the last 10 years and that I never thought would come to life. That is my exploration these days.

Let's talk about the Rock and Cena. You've directed the Rock and now you've directed Cena. How do the two compare?

I love them both. Great human beings. I think with Dwayne, I really enjoy it because he played football, and so I love sports and I think the way we approached it was very much like that and that's something that I enjoy. John is just a great human being, and because he came on and he's obviously a Toretto so he took that very seriously, and we spent a lot of time talking about who Jacob was. There was a lot of catch-up because he was going to show up in "F9," but he's lived in this universe the whole time, and the care and the to detail that he brought, I just had such a great time working with them and I can't wait to continue to work with him, whether it's in this franchise or other opportunities.

"F9 The Director's Cut" is yours to own exclusively on the home entertainment release. Now on Digital, available on Blu-ray and 4K UHD. Remember to share your experience with #F9Fest and #F9TheDirectorsCut and @TheFastSaga / @UniAllAccess on Twitter.