Heavy.com was on-set in London for the filming of Fast & Furious 6, and this week we're bringing you exclusive articles and photos to get you amped for the Memorial Day launch of the most epic installment in the high-adrenaline Fast & Furious franchise. Get more of your Fast 6 fix here.
What makes a true action movie thrilling isn't always the good guy. Sure, the protagonist is always necessary to a film, but the villain is equally essential, often even taking a franchise to new heights. That seems to be the case for Fast & Furious 6 and its new lead antagonist Owen Shaw, portrayed by Luke Evans.
Evans wants to make it very clear that his rogue ex-military Shaw isn't going to be what people expect of a British villain.
"...Everybody’s like, oh, is he gonna have a plummy accent and a white furry cat and a swivel chair? No, he’s none of that. He can do everything that you want from a villain in this day and age. He can stand up to these guys, and he does stuff that they can’t do. He has weapons and machinery that they've never seen."
Just how formidable a threat is Shaw? Aside from his dashing good looks and suave demeanor, he's handy and crafty with lots of fight training. He and his team are dangerous, Evans says, but they lack the camaraderie of Dom and Brian's crew.
“He’s very successful. Very very clever. As you can imagine SAS, they have a huge amount of fight training. They know a lot of different forms of fighting. He can change his accent. He can change his look. And he has a team of people around him who sort of respect him, but they don’t have the same sort of dynamic or respect for each other as the team that you all know from the franchise, which makes them very separate and very different."
Shaw's team earns their keep by hijacking military technology and selling it on the black market, but this decidedly Bond-like turn doesn't make the character any less villainous. What makes him such a thorn in the good guys' side?
"He’s very hands-on, which makes him more of a threat. He can’t just be clever, he’s got to be able to fight. And we’ve created this character who can do the stuff that they can’t do, physically, so they match up … because he’s not as big as some of the boys — my fighting has been tailored to look as realistic, so he could take on these people doing the sort of things he does in the film."
With the inclusion of a more conventional villain, it adds a dynamic that's been missing from the rest of the series. It makes the whole package feel more vital, as if it's evolving with the times.
"I’m also very aware that this is the first time they've had sort of an archetypal villain that they’re fighting. That’s never happened in the [franchise] before. They have one agenda, to catch this guy. Which they've never really done. It’s usually about money, or it’s about setting themselves up until the next story starts. This one is very different. So, in that respect you feel like the franchise is organically moving and changing as a format and a formula as well."
Even though some of the feats Shaw and his crew perform seemingly require superhuman knowledge or ability, Evans insists that everything they do is on the human scale, and that anyone could do it with the proper training.
“I really like [Shaw]. I like him a lot, actually. He’s very very clever. He’s articulate. He knows what he wants. He has an agenda. He’s very very precise in his work. He leaves nothing behind. And what’s great in the film is he’s constantly one step ahead of the team and they can’t understand why. Only he knows why."
On the differences between this role and the one he'd just finished occupying for a year (Bard in The Hobbit), Evans said, "I’ve gone from shooting dragons to shooting people." He's not as accustomed to playing the bad guy, but he's made the leap well, and as it turns out he enjoys it. "I have to say it’s really enjoyable. ...To jump to this has been amazing, actually. I've really enjoyed it. I’m not gonna lie. It’s great."
The Fast & Furious franchise has been running for close to a decade, so Evans definitely felt the pressures of being the new guy: "They've known each other for 10 years, so they've already done their introductions... They’ve been really lovely. They know what they’re doing, they know their jobs and roles. Must be quite nice to be able to play a character for such a long period because part of them is in this role, which is nice. I think they probably enjoy the fact there’s a new boy that’s come along and is doing something completely different from them and bringing another energy and another dynamic to it.
He goes on to describe his first moments working with them, and although he was treated well, the scene itself didn't appear too savory.
"In the first scene I shot on this film, it’s basically almost the end of the film and they've caught my character, or they think they've caught my character, so I’m handcuffed, and I've got a bloody face, and I get no introduction, never met any of these people, and it’s the whole team, all of them, and my first introduction is sort of like — I've got handcuffs on — lovely meeting you, nice to meet you."
While their relations were friendly off-camera, the same can't be said for Evans' scenes with the rest of the crew.
“...I had to insult a lot of them, and get dragged down the stairs by Dwayne, and then punched in the face by Paul, and eyeballed by Vin and telling him I’m gonna break him. ...And this is the movies for you. You never get the sort of normal introduction you would if you were doing any other sort of job. So that was quite weird."
While Evans feels the pressure of entering a successful franchise on its sixth installment, but he takes comfort knowing that director Justin Lin, who's helmed every one since the third, is in control.
"Justin is a great director. He’s incredible at creating action sequences, and he thinks in such expansive scale in his head. But he’s also very good at — this film I feel has a very strong narrative. The script has been developed really well, so the characters have been built very strongly. And he’s not just allowing me to do my thing, he’s really picking up on little nuances on certain scenes I have with the principal characters … it’s very important to him that that matters as much as the big stunt sequences — flipping police cars and hijacking convoys on desert roads and stuff."
Something that's sure to set this installment apart from the others is the increase in hand-to-hand combat. Evans made the fights sound pretty brutal, but it only makes the anticipation around the film grow larger.
"There’s like seven fights going on at one point in the film. ...And I have no idea how Justin is even able to process how he’s gonna shoot this because we’re basically in the backgrounds of each other’s fights, so it’s gonna be mental. ...I've learned three of the fights now, and they’re full on. It’s the hardest thing I've ever done, the most physical thing I've ever done. ...I cracked a tooth yesterday, so I've got a fake tooth now."