It took a decade for the Fast & Furious franchise to figure out what it wanted to be, and it’s a minor miracle it even survived long enough to evolve into the blockbuster behemoth we all know and love to day, with the recent ninth installment taking it past Fox’s X-Men to become the fifth highest-grossing film series in history.
The Fast and the Furious was a mid budget street-level racing thriller heavily indebted to Point Break, before sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious dropped almost the entire cast with the exception of Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner. Tokyo Drift was largely unconnected and took the property in another different direction, before the original quartet reunited for the fourth movie, which set the ball rolling towards Justin Lin’s landmark Fast Five.
Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce has become one of the most important cogs in The Fast Saga‘s well-oiled machine, and F9 saw him bumped up to third billing in the credits behind stalwarts Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, so he’s clearly a hugely valued member of the ensemble.
However, in a new interview, Tyrese revealed that there was a great deal of hesitation to bring him back for Fast Five, but Walker was there to fight his corner and lobby the studio, producers and even Diesel for his inclusion.
“Paul knew that there was a bit of an obstacle that we had to get through in order for us to all band together for Fast Five. I mean, I get emotional when I think about this guy; for damn near three movies, he kept begging and pleading and trying to talk to the studio and directors and Vin, ‘Yo, we got to get Tyrese back’. I finally came back for Five, and it was a fight, man. I think there was some type of spoken but yet unspoken tension in and around Roman Pearce, and where do I fit in? And I think after hanging out with a Vin a few times before we did Five, he realized quickly that I’m more of an asset, and there’s way more upside to what I’m bringing to the franchise over it ever even remotely being considered competition or anything that anybody should be worried about.”
F9 saw Tyrese’s character make a subtle shift from comic relief to the guy who points out the ridiculousness of the scenarios the crew keep finding themselves in, and he’s one step away from talking directly to the camera. It’s hard to imagine Fast & Furious without him at this stage, and following Walker’s passing in 2013 he’s now the longest-tenured member of the gang outside of O.G.’s Diesel and Rodriguez.