The writer-producer-director mentioned that when he received the first draft of the screenplay for the 2001 film, it depicted a storyline based in New York with a cast primarily consisting of Italian youths.
During a recent episode of Jon Bernthal’s Real Ones podcast, David Ayer, the writer-producer-director, discussed his involvement in the 2001 film ‘The Fast and the Furious,’ which marked the beginning of the enduring franchise. Ayer revealed his lack of tangible gains from this hugely successful Hollywood franchise, despite it being adapted from a 1998 Vibe magazine article. He expressed his frustration, stating, “It’s the biggest franchise in Hollywood, and I have no stake in it whatsoever. I have no tangible returns from it, none, all due to the intricacies of the entertainment industry.”
Although Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist contributed initial drafts of the script, Ayer emphasized that he was the individual responsible for infusing diversity and authentic street racing culture into the screenplay.
“When I received that script, it was originally based in New York and focused on Italian characters,” he recollected. “I insisted that I would only take on the project if I could relocate it to Los Angeles and depict the people and culture I was familiar with. So, I began introducing characters of color, incorporating elements of street culture, and delving into the world of street racing, which was relatively unknown at the time.”
Ayer went on to explain, “I even went to a shop in the Valley and met with the pioneers of fuel curve hacking for injectors. They had just cracked the code, and I thought, ‘This is perfect; I’m putting this in the movie.'”
The franchise, which now boasts over ten films with more in development, has grossed an astounding $7 billion globally. Despite this success, Ayer feels that the prevailing narrative regarding his contribution is that “I didn’t do anything.”
“It’s like people manipulate, manipulate, and mold narratives to serve their own interests,” he remarked. “And because I’ve always been an outsider because I don’t attend parties or gatherings because I’m not a part of that social scene, those who are have had the ability to shape and control narratives. That’s part of the issue. I was never part of that social circle, so I was always seen as the enigmatic, creative figure, an outlier.”
Ayer’s tensions in the industry aren’t limited to Hollywood executives connected to the Fast & Furious franchise; he’s also been candid about his grievances regarding 2016’s Suicide Squad. This is why he prioritizes creative freedom in the projects he takes on nowadays.
“Screw all the intermediaries, you know? I understand the situation. The responsibility falls on me; I need to rescue myself,” Ayer expressed. “I could sit here complaining about all the challenges I’ve faced throughout my career, the criticisms and setbacks. But the truth is, I need to take charge of my own rescue and establish an environment where my creativity can thrive. That’s my focus now, and that’s exactly what I’m working on.”