For you specifically, Fast Five allowed you to get more involved in the action and the stunts finally. Did that feel really long overdue?
It was, yeah! Especially in the fourth one, I was just the chick at home, holding down the fort. It was like, “Come on!” And before we started making this one, Justin was like, “You’re gonna get to do so much more action in this one,” and I was like, “Bring it on! I can’t wait.” I was so happy that I was able to do that. It’s so gratifying, it’s so much fun. And then to be able to see that on screen was so amazing. I loved it.
It’s always difficult, though, the first time you do a stunt. Like, the first time you jump, or the first time you’re getting used to a rhythm. But then it gets really fun, and you’re like a kid in a candy store—“Let me do it again! I want to do it again!” [Laughs.] When we were shooting in Puerto Rico, though, I did rip my hand open, and I had to get stitches and I went to the hospital, but that was about it as bas as it got, which isn’t that bad. And now I have a nice scar on my hand, which I’m very proud of.
How’d you rip it?
Well, my hand got stuck in the metal roof, and then I was just dangling from my hand. We super-glued it initially.
Wait, you super-glued your hand? Aren’t they supposed to have top-notch medical units on big Hollywood sets?
[Laughs.] You’d think so, right? Well, I call it “super glue,” but it was actually something a bit more professional, though it was basically super glue. It was kind of like we just used Elmer’s glue. [Laughs.] There’s kind of this rule where after three hours it’s not worth getting stitches anymore, but we kind of broke that rule.
Aside from hand-ripping, what keeps the character fresh for you after all of these movies?
Just like any other human being, she keeps growing. She keeps evolving, which is awesome. She went from being a girl in her brother’s shadow, not completely knowing what’s going on, to being betrayed and having to forgive Brian [Paul Walker], and now she’s kicking ass on her own and she’s with the boys on the run, and she has a lot to protect. So to be able to play all of those things, and go on that evolution, is really fun.
You’ve been playing the character since 2001, so you can definitely take ownership of her at this point. Are you able to provide input to the screenwriters and help direct her storyline, or do you just leave it up to the writers?
Justin is really good about meeting with each of the actors before we start shooting, and he talks about where each character is going. It’s definitely a collaboration with Justin, which is amazing, and this was my third movie with him, so it’s really easy and wonderful to work with him at this point. He’ll ask me, “So, where you do you think Mia is at now?” And we’ll email back and forth. And also, working with the writer [Chris Morgan] was great. He was on set a lot, so that was awesome.
With Justin Lin’s direction, you can see such an evolution from when he directed The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), particularly in Fast Five’s extremely ambitious action scenes. The vault sequence on the highway at the end, for example, is a knockout. How’s it been to see Justin Lin evolve into this legitimate blockbuster filmmaker?
Well, working with him on Annapolis, I was a huge fan of his movie Better Luck Tomorrow, and one of the things I loved about Better Luck Tomorrow was that there was so much frenetic energy and cool camerawork in that—he brought a lot of that into this movie. Of course it feels like a big-budget Hollywood movie, but, on the other hand, you feel like you’re with the characters. In the foot chase scene in Brazil, he used a lot of handheld cameras, and I think he stays close to that independent world in that way. It shows in the action scenes.
With that vault sequence, and a lot of the action stuff in general, they have this thing now where they can show you what you’re character is going to do; it’s this little animated version of your character. [Laughs.] They can show you what you’re doing in the car. It’s like, “Oh, great, I’m going to copy that.” That makes things a lot easier—they didn’t have that 11 years ago when we made the first one.
When you see that animated version of yourself crashing, do you have second thoughts? “Wait a second, there’s no way in hell I’m doing that!”
No, not at all! I’m like, “Man, that’s going to look amazing!” [Laughs.] It gets me really excited about it.
Were you able to get directly involved with any of the DVD/Blu-ray bonus features?
There were always cameras shooting us, getting behind the scenes, and showing us what’s going on in Video Village, which is where you get to see the takes played back and where Justin hangs out with the producers, watching what they’re shooting. So I can’t wait to see it—I haven’t seen any of the extras yet myself.
Hopefully we’ll get to see some of the animated Jordana Brewster.
[Laughs.] I know! She has bangs, actually—she looks very different from me. It’s hysterical.
Seeing the Fast & Furious movies with a packed crowd does them so much justice—the fans shout and cheer during every scene, and it’s this real communal vibe. Have you ever seen one of the movies in a packed theater like that?
Oh, yeah—I love doing that. I’ll call my parents and friends and ask, “OK, so what theaters have you seen it in?” I’ll get crowd reports from my friends. [Laughs.] “OK, how crowded was it? What were people saying?” That’s part of the fun of opening weekend, and the excitement of it.
The producers and everyone involved with these movies totally understand their audience, perhaps better than any other franchise out there, and they always deliver exactly what the audience wants and expects. Why do you think the franchise has been so good at that?
I think the action is awesome, and it keeps building on itself. And I think it’s the characters, the sense of family and the sense of code that they have amongst each other—people really like that, as well.
In terms of the next one, what would you like to see happen for Mia? In Fast Five, we learn that she’s pregnant, so there are various different directions they could go with her now.
Well, I’d love to see her continue to get involved in the action, especially now that she has the baby—I think the stakes are higher, and she has more to protect. She should get even more ferocious about protecting her family.
How many more of these movies can you see yourself making? Is there an expiration date for you?
It’s really hard to get tired of doing something so that’s so fun, so I can’t imagine that I’ll get tired of making these movies any time soon. If we get to Fast Ten, I’ll be all for it!
Interview by Matt Barone (@MBarone)