The Fast and Furious franchise isn’t exactly famous for hard-hitting realism and layered character development, but the speed at which Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw was welcomed into Dom Toretto’s ‘family’ with such open arms after murdering one of the team in cold blood and spending the entirety of the seventh movie trying to kill the rest of them angered plenty of fans, leading to the #JusticeForHan campaign online.
With the franchise’s first spinoff Hobbs & Shaw now in theaters, and Statham’s character now part of a wise-cracking buddy duo alongside Dwayne Johnson, co-writer Drew Pearce revealed in a recent interview that he wanted to address the controversy head-on in the script but instead decided to focus more on developing Shaw’s character by fleshing out his backstory.
“I mean, it’s a thing I brought up a lot. But there were a couple of ways that we nearly addressed it and then chose not to. I think the baby step to doing that was finding this backstory for Shaw that went some distance to explaining his transition, from the first time we meet him in the franchise, to him being one of our heroes. And I think that was really interesting working with Statham really closely on that, which I did because he had questions about who Shaw was, you know? And so we sat down and we kind of worked him out. And with that, I think, came a real focusing of Shaw’s voice, which is partly Statham’s voice, but it’s also trying to work out where he comes from.”
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Pearce went on to explain the challenges in finding the right balance in Hobbs & Shaw between the two main characters, especially given the similarities of both of them being bald-headed, musclebound badasses with a special forces background:
“I wanted him to have a hard military background, but he feels like he’s that guy, you know? Again, in buddy cop style, you want two people with very different physical and philosophical approaches to life who learn just a tiny bit from each other and get better for it. You’re leaving money on the table character-wise if you don’t lean into that a little bit in a buddy movie.”
Some Fast and Furious fans might still be angry that Shaw went from cold-blooded killer to quip-happy rescuer of babies in almost no time at all, but there’s no denying that Jason Statham has been an excellent addition to the gang and Hobbs & Shaw will likely be successful enough to spawn an entirely new franchise outside of the main series.