F. Gary Gray closed out 2015 beneath the glow of two very important accomplishments. In addition to guiding Straight Outta Compton to nearly unanimous critical and commercial success, Gray is now presumably the sole reason Vin Diesel will not be sliding into the director's chair for the forthcoming Fast and Furious 8. In a new interview with Collider, Gray cautiously opens up about his intentions for the Furious franchise and the inevitable influence of Star Wars.
"When you look at someone like J.J. Abrams who gives you the spectacle and great action set pieces but also gives you character and plotting and narrative, I think it’s my job—and my intention—to do both," Gray insists. "You amp up everything, you work on the performances, you work on the story, you work on the action; it’s not just one thing." Though Gray doesn't get into specifics about possibly being the guy who booted Diesel from a director's slot, he does reveal that their relationship is "all love" and that they're both happy with the new direction.
"We were both really excited to get back together and do it again," Gray said, referencing their previous collaboration A Man Apart. "We talked about all of the Fast movies up to this point, and where could we go. I think he was really happy with the vision I have for the franchise and I was really happy about where he sees not only his character going but the franchise itself, because he’s a producer as well."
Understandably, Gray remains largely vague in terms of Furious 8 plot details, though what he does manage to say is certainly promising enough. "I’m probably not at liberty to go too far into detail," Gray admits. "All I have to say is I’m extremely excited about the direction we’re going in, and we’re really pushing to make sure the audience feels like it’s not more of the same. They feel like it’s fresh, they feel like the characters they’ve come to know and love are there, but this is gonna be different."
Given the fact that the Furious 8 crew has reportedly been trying very (very) hard to secure some shooting time in Cuba ahead of production kick-off later this year, Universal's purported plan to expand the Furious cinematic universe into a decidedly Star Wars-esque franchise behemoth seems pretty realistic.