Do you live your life a quarter mile at a time, just like Dom Toretto? Here are some facts about the first movie that Paul Walker and Vin Diesel put on the map…
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Image Credit: Universal Studios
1. THE STORY WAS INSPIRED BY A MAGAZINE ARTICLE.
The May 1998 issue of Vibe magazine featured an article by Ken Li titled “Racer X” that chronicled illegal street racing in Queens, New York. Producers optioned the article for a movie adaptation that became The Fast and the Furious.
2. THE FILM’S TITLE WAS PURCHASED FROM LEGENDARY B-MOVIE DIRECTOR ROGER CORMAN.
Throughout filming, the movie had the working title Redline—which in racing refers to the maximum rate of speed a car can go—before the filmmakers settled on calling it The Fast & The Furious. There was only one problem: That title was owned by B-movie director Roger Corman, who produced a racing movie of the same name in 1955. Instead of having the filmmakers pay for the rights to the name, Corman traded the movie title for some stock footage owned by Universal Studios.
3. THE MOVIE HAS GARNERED SOME FAMILIAR AND UNFAMILIAR COMPARISONS.
The filmmakers of The Fast and the Furious pitched the movie as West Side Story with cars instead of singing, and also incorporated themes and situations found in movies like the surfing action classic Point Break and the undercover crime drama Donnie Brasco.
Director Rob Cohen modeled the film’s third act chases through the Los Angeles hills on similar San Francisco-set scenes in the 1968 car-chase classic Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen. Cohen loved the movie so much that he cast actor Paul Walker because he thought he resembled Bullitt’s lead actor.
FUN FACT: Eagle-eyed fans of this movie and Point Break will notice that Dom and Brian visit a restaurant called Neptune’s Net about midway through the movie. The real-life restaurant, located along Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway, is the same restaurant where Lori Petty’s character, Tyler, works in Point Break.
4. THEY USED REAL STREET RACERS FOR MOST OF THE RACE SCENES.
Cohen (who visited real illegal street races in preparation for directing the movie and who can also be seen in a small cameo as the pizza delivery guy trying to get through the crowd of cars during the first racing scene) enlisted the help of 200 souped-up cars driven by actual illegal street racers for the initial racing scenes.
5. THE REAL ACTORS PUT THE PEDAL TO THE METAL … KIND OF.
In order to have the real actors behind the wheel of cars going upwards of 80 to 100 miles per hour, a special rig was built by second unit director and stunt coordinator Mic Rodgers that the filmmakers dubbed the “Mic Rig.” It consisted of a high-powered truck with a long chassis in the back on which the bodies of the custom cars in the movie could be interchanged. A stunt driver drove the high-speed truck while the actors were behind the wheel of the dummy car in back, which made it look like they were really driving at dangerous speeds.
END CREDIT SEQUENCE: Dom can be seen evading the cops and driving through Baja, Mexico. This footage and the 1970 Chevelle SS he drives will be seen again eight years later in the fourth installment of the franchise, Fast & Furious.