Interview : Paul Walker for “2 FAST 2 FURIOUS”

Either Paul Walker jumping out of his skin with excitement about being back in Australia or he’s just a naturally happy, easily-excitable guy. Here eighteen months ago to promote the first “Fast and the Furious”, the jovial Walker’s managed to snag a second trip over – now, to promote the sequel “2 Fast 2 Furious”. CLINT MORRIS catches up with the amiable lad and self-confessed car-buff to talk about “2 Fast 2 Furious”, Vin Diesel’s no-show, and trying on the “Superman” suit (yep, he did!).
What kind of Car do you drive, man?
A Porsche, a Mitsubishi, a Couple of Monster Trucks, a 67 Malibu, Chevy Valet and I recently got a 1 Ton 350 Ford Diesel Truck – it’s Very nice [Laughs]. I just noticed that, for whatever reason, Diesel is like one dollar dearer here in Australia. In the states, Diesel is about twenty cents cheaper per gallon, so it’s much more cost effective to use Diesel.

That makes sense. Do you do lots of off-camera stunts in your cars?
Oh yeah – All the time [Laughs]. I’m a big race guy. I spend a lot of my time at the track, mainly in Willow Springs, which is a race track about a mile out of Los Angeles.

I guess it didn’t take much to entice you to do a sequel to “Fast and the Furious” then?
Well, it was one of those things…. I’d already done it, Vin wasn’t coming back, blah, blah, blah, but the fans kept on coming up to me and asking me when we were going to make the sequel. They really had a desire to see another one. I mean… how often do you have that luxury – unless you’re saying “Star Wars”? – where the fans are demanding another one?

I hear there were two scripts floating about. One with Vin’s character in it, and one without his character in it. Is that true?
No. It was just one script and they managed to revise it.

More Internet rumours I assume then? Darn internet kids! [Laughs]
Haha! I mean, a lot of people said basically that Vin and I just didn’t get along, and that’s the reason he isn’t in this one – that’s not true.

No. I’ve had a few people coming in to interview me and I’m like ‘where do you get this from?’. They’re looking for anything [these journalists]. Initially I felt pissed off that Vin didn’t want to come back – that’s true – and I did tell the press that, which my publicist didn’t really like [laughs], but now I actually understand [why he didn’t return]. Vin doesn’t want to do two-handers, he wants to go and be ‘Vin’, do things like “xXx”.

Have you talked to Vin since completing “2 Fast 2 Furious”?
Yeah, I’m actually trying to get him to come in and see it. I’ll try dragging him in! But I don’t know if he wants to. I can’t help but think at the back of his mind he’s hoping it doesn’t do too well [laughs].

Considering his effort for the year is “A Man Apart”?
Yeah. He actually did that some time before. He actually did that right after we finished “The Fast and the Furious”, the first one, and they didn’t know what to do with it, and a result of his success [in movies like “XXX”] they decided to bring it out now.

Has that ever happened to any of your films?
Yeah. “Roadkill”. I did that before “Fast and the Furious”, yet it came out afterwards.

That was a great movie by the way! I love that!
I know. It’s one of my favourites.

So you don’t mind doing two-handers [in terms of films]?
No, especially when it comes to a big action movie. I’m not a ‘Cool’ guy. Everyone thinks I am because I get to drive fast cars and make out with beautiful women, but I’m not, so it’s nice to know you’ve got someone else there to help the carry the burden.

So did you do any stunt-driving in the sequel?
They let me do some. But, to be honest with you, I think I did more on the first one than I did on the second one. Prior to doing this one I had several discussions with [Director] John Singelton, who assured me I’d get to do quite a bit of the driving. But, I was about three weeks into making the movie and I still hadn’t done any. I was pissed. Once again, I was pissed. Ha Ha. I said ‘what the hell man? You told me I was going to get to do some of the stunts’. He said, ‘Yeah but I wasn’t taking into consideration that you’re worth much more money now and the studio won’t have you driving’. But when people turned their heads, I’d hop behind the wheel – I still got to do quite a bit. To be honest I was more qualified than some of the stunt drivers in there. The only one I couldn’t up was my double; he’s a good friend of mine who I race with all the time.

How was it working with John Singelton? – it’s quite a different kind of movie for him, having done things like “Boyz N’The Hood” and “Higher Learning”
He handled it well. It was really just me feeling him out. He’s a brother. I’m as white as white gets, so we were kind of feeling each other out. I got along with him really well. He’d be working for like twelve hours straight a day and he’d still be really excited – trying to get the next scene shot and enthusiastic to do something different with everything. I mean, he’s gone in a totally different direction with this – it’s more of a Popcorn fast-paced action movie that’s just about the ‘Wow’ factor – but I think he enjoyed himself and had a good time.

How do you think the sequel compares to the original?
This one has a sense of humour – that’s the real difference. There’s lots of laughing in this one,..Tyrese is funny. The first one was just really serious. Also the production value is much greater. The first one we did for like forty million – just under – and this time around we went almost double that. The cars are nicer – more expensive, we blow more of them up, and the driving sequences are more spectacular. The first was one was really just a ¼ mile – somehow we managed to stretch a ten second race into like two minutes thirty seconds. This time, it’s more road course.

Your next film is “Timeline” – how is that?
It’s going to be a good one. The cast is awesome. I’m really excited – I have high hopes for it. It’s a step in the direction that I hope doing these “Fast and the Furious” movies will allow me to go. I’ve reached a certain level where I’ve got a bit of recognition now. Don’t get me wrong, I owe everything to “Fast and the Furious” – so I don’t want to be misquoted or anything – and I’m very grateful to be a part of it but I don’t want to be doing PG-13 movies forever, you know?. But Richard Donner directed, and I grew up on his movies – “Ladyhawke”, “The Goonies” [laughs], all the “Lethal Weapon” movies – and when I heard he was going to do a Michael Crichton novel I was immediately interested. I went down and sat with him and we got on really well. I worked with Frances O’Connor a lot, almost all of my dialogue is with her. She’s great. It’s great to work with people that are better than you, because it makes you better. From the pieces of the movie I’ve seen I’m really pleased.

Is that coming out in the Summer or the Fall?
They’re saying Fall – November. There are a lot of big movies coming out in the Summer, and I’m afraid ours just doesn’t have any ”Computer Generated Images” in it – so we were held off til then. [Laughs]

What happened to the movie you were going to make, “Heart of a Soldier”?
You knew about that? Wow..It just kind of fell apart. It was one of those things – we only had a small window to film at West Point and the script wasn’t really up to scratch. Robert Nelson did a good job on it but he just didn’t have the input he needed from me or anyone else, so no one ended up Seeing Eye to eye. There were just too many loose ends – casting, getting things together – so we just decided to let it rest.

Have you reached the stage in your career where you have input into scripts?
Yeah, but the thing of it is, when you’re working it’s hard to be involved. The lesson I’ve learnt with this “Heart of a Soldier” thing is that you’ve got to space things out. I don’t want to be one of those actors anymore that just does their weeks work and collects their pay – I want to be more pro-active, more involved with projects, from the first step. I want to make sure we select the subject matter I’m interested in, select a writer who is passionate about writing it, and move on to casting. With that in mind, I don’t plan on doing anything for the remainder of the year.

I read in the trades about a project you were circling about ”Drug Traffiking” Still a go?
Yeah. We’re developing that. We’ve actually got a couple of projects we’re developing. One is a Coast Guard story, basically centring on a Coast Guard. I’ve been interested in the Coast Guard since I was a kid, because my grandparents owned a house on the bay near Oregon, and we would watch the Coast Guard coming and going. Their neighbour was actually a captain of the Coast Guard too. So I’ve always had a fascination with it – all the details and what they do. I saw “The Perfect Storm” when that came out – a few years back – and my favourite scene in the movie was when the Coast Guard came in to do the rescues. So a kick-ass “Coast Guard” movie would be cool, but we’re going to do it more in the vein of “Apocalypse Now”. It’s going to take place in the Philippines. The Coast Guard is the only form of military from the United States that’s allowed on their water. But also, I want to do another project with [Director] John Dahl – who did “Roadkill” – we may do something later on this year together.

Rusty Nail Returns: Roadkill 2?
[Laughs] Oh yeah, he’s still alive man. They set it up for a sequel actually. No not that, but we might do something this year – and a portion of it next year. I really like that guy – he’s really cool and very smart.

And you were a contender for “Superman” at one stage, yes?
Yeah. I just didn’t want to do it. I don’t know why – I could have made a ‘cagillion’! You probably think I’m totally insane.

I suppose the thing is – as the other contenders have expressed – you do Superman and then you will always – forever – be known as “Superman”?
Yeah I’d die Superman. You’re right. I’d be eighty years old and no longer be able to get a hard on, and the headline would read “Man of Steel is Impotent”. [Laughs]

Did you try the suit on?
Yeah I did that. And I met with [Director] Brett [Ratner]. I liked Brett a lot actually, which made it a hard decision. But he [Brett] decided he didn’t want anymore to do with it either eventually. And there were budgetary problems too – they needed $225 Million.

Did you read the script for “Superman”?
Yeah it’s really good. It’s awesome!

Funny, I’d heard it wasn’t that great?
No, you’d be surprised. It’s one of those things you read and go ‘wow’ –JJ Abrams, who did “Joyride”, wrote it, and he’s really good. “Joyride” was an awesome script too. But when I heard they were making “Superman”, I was like ‘who’s going to be want to be Superman”? And then I read the script! And it was really good! They’ve kept it pretty much under wraps. People that tell you they didn’t really like it probably haven’t seen it. It’s so hush. Hush.

So how does it feel having to carry an $80 million dollar movie like “2 fast 2 Furious” though?
I think I should be more nervous than I am. But reason I’m not is that I think there’s a desire – people want to see it – so we should be ok.

Cole Hauser is great as the villain in it, isn’t he?
Cole’s awesome. He is the best thing in the movie – Cole’s the best. I want to do a western really bad and we’ve [Cole and I] been talking about it.

He looks like the kind of guy who could really fuck you up – yeah?
Oh yeah. But he’s a really nice guy. But he’s intense, no question about it.

You started out in small supporting parts, and now you’re headlining movies. Does it feel like a natural progression for you?
This is all very unnatural for me. It’s ridiculous. I never imagined I’d be doing this and I’m enjoying it, and it’s scary. It’s beginning to feel a little more comfortable. I’m in Australia for the second time in like eighteen months, how cool is that? And it’s all because of ‘what I do’. The interviews suck – sitting around getting interviewed all day – but I’m in Australia for Christ sake! And I get to go to like nine or ten more counties before this is all over. I get to pack my bags and live in another city for five or six months. And then, when that’s over – I get to do something different again. It’s unreal. And you get paid a gang load to do it. It’s fun.

What is it about the “Fast and the Furious” film that caused it to be so popular?
People attribute it to a number of different things. Honestly, I think it’s being at the right place at the right time. That’s all it was. Whether it was good, whether it was crap or whatever – it was still going to make money. Timing was just perfect. The studio just didn’t realize how perfect it was. Rob [Cohen, the director] did a pretty good job too though. And also people liked that blacks, whites, Hispanics – everyone – was represented. That’s huge in the states. Especially in LA, you can’t get anymore Urban than that. And the DVD, I mean it was like the biggest DVD seller of all time for a while there. Bottom Line: It was the right thing to do at the right time; I think that pretty much sums it up [Laughs]

Any talk of a “Fast and Furious 3” yet?
No – not yet – but I wouldn’t be surprised though. I had to do this one – they had the option on me, but I’m a free man now though. I’d still consider it, but I wouldn’t want to do it big like this one, I’d want to strip it down and do it really raw and bare. That’s what I would’ve liked to have seen this time around – but it didn’t work out that way. Still, it turned out well. I’ve got a pool of guys back home I’m trying to get into a screening for it – and if they don’t like it, I’m running! [Laughs]

What are the best films you’ve done, in your opinion?
I don’t like any of my movies. If I’m in it, I’ve ruined it. It’s hard to be objective, If I’m in it I just want to sit their and pick myself apart. I do like something about most of the movies I do, “Joyride”, I liked John’s shots, and Steve Zahn’s awesome, I loved doing stuff with him, and I laughed my ass off, and “Fast and the Furious” I liked because the fans liked it and felt like they were being represented. But to be honest, there isn’t a single film of mine that I think is great.

You’ve done a few films with [producer] Neil Moritz now – he wanted you to do “S.W.A.T.” yeah?
Yeah he wanted me to do S.W.A.T and a couple of others. We’re really good friends now. We kind of came up together –he hadn’t been doing it that long and now he’s one of the biggest producers in Hollywood. He’s always offering me the most money too [Laughs] – so he’s definitely a good ally to have. He’s made a lot of careers – like Reese Witherspoon. He put her in “Cruel Intentions” and “Sweet Home Alabama” – and now he’s doing a sequel to “Sweet Home Alabama”. Did you know that movie made more money than “Fast and the Furious”?

Not bad! Would you ever consider making a movie in Australia?
Yes. Get this out there for me would you? Anyone that has some cool projects they want to do in Australia and want me to come and do it, contact me!


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