David Ayer said he has “nothing to show” for writing 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, the film that kicked off the long-running franchise.
In a recent episode of Jon Bernthal’s Real Ones podcast, the writer-producer-director opened up about the film, which was released more than two decades ago and initially adapted from a 1998 Vibe magazine article.
“Biggest franchise in Hollywood, and I don’t have any of it,” Ayer explained. “I got nothing to show for it, nothing, because of the way the business works.”
While Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist wrote drafts of the script, Ayer said he was the one who came in and added diversity and street racing culture to the screenplay.
“When I got that script, that shit was set in New York, it was all Italian kids, right?” he recalled. “I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m not gonna take it unless I can set it in L.A. and make it look like the people I know in L.A., right?’ So then I started, like, writing in people of color, and writing in the street stuff, and writing in the culture, and no one knew shit about street racing at the time.”
Ayer continued, “I went to a shop in the Valley and met with like the first guys that were doing the hacking of the fuel curves for the injectors and stuff like that, and they had just figured it out and they were showing it, and I’m like, ‘Oh fuck yeah, I’m gonna put that in the movie.’”
The franchise, which currently consists of more than 10 films with more in the works, has grossed more than $7 billion at the worldwide box office. But the filmmaker feels that “the narrative” surrounding his involvement is “I didn’t do shit.”
“It’s like people hijack narratives, control narratives, create narratives to empower themselves, right?” he added. “And because I was always an outsider and because, like, I don’t go to the fucking parties. I don’t go to the meals, I don’t do any of that stuff. The people that did were able to control and manage narratives because they’re socialized in that part of the problem. I was never socialized in that part of the problem so I was always like the dark, creative dude, beware.”
Hollywood executives involved with the Fast & Furious franchise aren’t the only people in the industry that Ayer has had tension with. He also has been open about his issues with 2016’s Suicide Squad, which is why having creative freedom is a priority in the projects he takes on now.
“Fuck all the middlemen, right? I get it. It’s up to me, I gotta self-rescue, right?” Ayer said. “I can fucking whine about getting shot at and all the rounds I’ve taken over my career. I’ve gotta self-rescue and I’ve gotta create an ecology where it’s safe for me to be creative, and that’s it. And that’s what I’m doing now.”