The 10th instalment of the enduring Fast and the Furious franchise has released to cinemas worldwide.
An adrenaline filled vehicle exploding action film with heart and a star studded cast.
Thanks to Universal Pictures we have been given the opportunity to have an interview with Charlize Theron who plays the dark and secretive Cipher.
STG: Were you looking forward to returning to the Fast & Furious universe?
Charlize: I am always touched when I am invited to return. Then I go through the process of figuring out what they are going to do with my character and the kind of trouble we will get into this time. There’s just something really nice about being part of a franchise like this that has accomplished so much, with all the characters that have wandered through its world and these stories. And to do it as we reach the end feels very special. Also, I have so much fun playing Cipher!
STG: Is it easy for you to slip back into the character of Cipher?
Charlize: Yeah, there’s an authenticity about Cipher that I definitely connect with when I read the scripts and the dialogue, even though there’s always room for discovery with her too. That’s why I get excited when they ask me to come back, as I feel there’s so much about the character that is still an enigma. So, it lends itself nicely for me as an actor to go and explore and dig a little deeper; but she is who she is, and I like keeping her in that vein.
STG: She is an antagonist that doesn’t switch sides.
Charlize: Yes, because I may want to go to Dom’s barbeque and drink Coronas with them, but I don’t want Cipher to do it. At the same time, I feel it is very important for me to figure out how to keep her surprising the audience and keep the characters around her surprised by her too in a way that doesn’t seem like it’s been done before. I believe people don’t really change, but just maybe go about things in a different way – which is what makes these characters so fun to play with. I am very lucky to have had the support of the producers and everybody else when I signed on so that when I said I couldn’t be at the barbeque, they were like, “That’s okay, we can live with that.”
STG: So, does Cipher still have the upper hand?
Charlize: I would say so, yes. And here we are trying to explore that, but in a different way. One of her great strengths is that she is always a few moves ahead of everybody. And whether that’s just a God-given gift or something she has kind of honed into over the years – or maybe a little bit of both – is what I lean on a lot, because a character like her can become very contrived quickly by knowing too much. Finding discovery for her is important, as she is smart and can get ahead. But you have to see her work at it as an audience to enjoy it; otherwise, she just looks like a know-it-all, and that’s boring. In this movie we get to see a little bit more of how tenacious she is. Still, even Cipher can be surprised. So, how does she recover from that when we have never really seen her in those circumstances?
STG: Both Cipher and the new villain Dante Reyes have their issues with the Toretto family.
Charlize: Yes, although I feel like Dante is holding much more of an emotional trauma against them. I think that’s what’s driving him, whereas Cipher is rapacious and self-serving. She’s just not a good team player, but better at single sports.
STG: Jason Momoa shines as Dante.
Charlize: Our first scene in the film together is the first thing that we shot, so we didn’t really meet each other until we actually showed up on set. And he was absolutely lovely! Everybody’s nervous the first day, and I always tend to think I’m going to get fired or make a mistake, but Jason was so confident. I mean, he came into the room with this lace-detailed open shirt that was flowing, and he had these crazy lines to get through that he just leaned into. I was so impressed because I’m more like a vintage car that can start off a little cold, until you press down on the gas pedal and shake off the nerves. Jason is not that kind of actor. He comes in guns blazing!
STG: Jason said he was so grateful for what you gave him on set.
Charlize: That’s really sweet. Well, he’s lovely, and I am a massive fan of his. I love that he is so humble and down-to-earth. Jason doesn’t walk into a room with any pretense – he’s just very sincere. It’s rare to come across someone like that.
STG: Cipher is involved in quite a bit of action. How did you prepare those scenes?
Charlize: I like to prep action scenes, and here I was lucky to train for about 7 weeks before the shoot with a great stunt team that helped me work through it all. You are always trying to kind of figure out the physicality that’s going to be unique to the character, and it was good to not have to start from scratch.
STG: Tell us about the spin flip?
Charlize: It was one of those moves I kind of knew I could do; so, I trained it. Later, when I arrived on set, I showed some video of me doing it, and finally they gave me the green light. Then I thought, “I better not mess it up!” It was a huge drive for me to do it properly.
STG: Do you enjoy working with the stunt team?
Charlize: I absolutely love working with stunt people. And I think it’s your job as an actor to guide them as much as it’s their job to guide you. It’s a dance, so you have to be able to communicate what you can do. Sometimes it’s almost safer to just do it once and be done with it than to try 15 times.
STG: Cipher has a spectacular fight sequence with Letty.
Charlize: When I read it, that was a scene I could not wait to see as a moviegoer. It’s so epic! And Letty is such a badass. What Michelle Rodriguez does – like the way she sells action – is very believable. She is just so physical with her body, her eyes, and her heart. It was very exciting for me to shoot that sequence with her.
STG: What is Michelle Rodriguez like as a fighting partner?
Charlize: She’s amazing! There were moments where she’d come at me, and I got scared. It doesn’t mean that you’re not being safe; but she sells it so well, which is great. So, we talked a little bit about that and about wanting to figure out how to get what we needed in the scene. That stuff is always fun, and Michelle was pretty clear about it. She would say, “I’m scrappy. Letty is scrappy.” And I was like, “I love it!” She’s incredible, and up for anything.
STG: But how do you recover from shooting a sequence like that?
Charlize: There’s no trick, although I wish there was. I mean, it is what it is. I think a lot of the work starts with the prep; so, you must be good to your body for an amount of time before you do this stuff, and then you have to kind of continue being good. It’s just a lot of body work, and it gets harder the older you are too. Sometimes I think of how I would’ve loved to have entered this world in my 20s. Now I look at fight sequences like, “Oh, this is going to be a rough couple of weeks…” But you expect that to be part of the journey, and then you walk around bruised – which is also a little bit of a badge of honor. I dig it, and I feel so lucky to get to do it.
STG: What can you say of director Louis Leterrier, who joins the franchise in Fast X?
Charlize: He’s so lovely, and I loved working with him. Louis is a problem solver, and he likes to think on his feet. He has great energy about trying things while having a clear idea of where he wants to go – which I really like. So, he doesn’t waste anybody’s time because he knows what he wants, gets it, and then still leaves enough room for you to play. I enjoy working with directors that like getting down to business.
STG: And now, are you excited to see how the fans embrace this film?
Charlize: Yes, I’m excited for people to see what this team has come up with and how you will foam in the mouth for the next movie.
Fast X is now in cinemas and released by Universal Pictures.