Fast X director Louis Leterrier first received the call to direct the movie at 11pm on April 28, 2022. Forty-eight hours prior, veteran Fast & Furious franchise filmmaker Justin Lin had abruptly resigned as the director of Fast X, days into production on the full-throttle family saga’s 10th mainline installment. A replacement director was needed and, naturally, they were needed fast.
After staying up all night to read, and reread, the script for Fast X, he was asked a simple question: would you be interested? "I said no," Leterrier recalls to Total Film magazine in the new issue, which features the movie on the cover. "I couldn’t fathom doing this. It’s just impossible. It’s just massive. Doing any movie, any TV show, anything without prep is crazy, let alone doing the biggest movie in the biggest action franchise of all time."
But Leterrier, the 49-year-old French filmmaker who helped launch Jason Statham’s action career with The Transporter, helmed early MCU entry The Incredible Hulk and did some unspeakable things to Mark Strong inside an elephant’s vagina in Grimsby, soon realized that the opportunity to take the wheel of the "biggest action franchise of all time" was simply too good to pass up. "So I accepted. I took a plane and landed. All this in the span of four days. It was crazy."
Back on set, things were just as fraught. "It definitely wasn’t an easy time," says star and producer Vin Diesel, speaking to Total Film . Third-party reports at the time cited a disagreement between Lin and Diesel as one of the driving factors behind the director’s decision to depart. "There still was traces of the pandemic, and all that pressure that was put on the production. Nothing but love for Justin, and nothing but gratitude for the work that he did to get us to that first week of filming… but sometimes you’ve got to find a way to get it done."
When he arrived, Leterrier opted to put pedal to the metal and keep his pitstop to a minimum. This meant operating from Lin’s existing plan, partly out of practical necessity, and partly to "honor Justin’s vision" for the film, with Lin remaining attached to the project as a screenwriter (alongside Dan Mazeau) and producer.
"At first, I was like, 'OK, what did Justin do? Can I see storyboards? Can I see shot lists?' I took it all in," says Leterrier. "And then you find your bearings, and it becomes yours. I had a short runway, but I had the best crew in the world – Justin’s crew. We were in sync from the get-go. The analogy is: when I do French shows, I’m used to driving a little Renault; and here it’s a Dodge Charger where everything is perfectly tuned. And it’s like, 'Oh my God, I’ve never felt that power.' It’s exciting."
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Fast X opens in cinemas on May 19. This is just a snippet of our huge cover feature on Fast X, including interviews with Jason Momoa and Brie Larson as well. For much more, grab a copy of the new issue of Total Film magazine when it hits shelves (and digital newsstands) this Thursday, March 30. Check out the covers below:
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