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F9: Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Jordana Brewster, and more explain why Fast & Furious women 'raise the bar'

By Caitlin Busch
SYFY Shines a Spotlight on the Strong Women of the Fast and Furious Franchise

As the Fast Saga has expanded from a movie about drag racing in the streets of Los Angeles to a globetrotting series of near-superheroic proportions, the characters have grown with it. Specifically, with the number of women taking control on the big screen.

“Our franchise has always done a pretty good job of representing strong, independent women,” Jordana Brewster, who’s played one of the series’ core characters, Mia Torretto, since 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, told SYFY at a recent press event for F9, premiering June 25. “I feel like Letty [Michelle Rodriguez] and Mia were both strong-headed, independent women who had lives independent of their brother or boyfriends.” 

Over the past 20 years, Brewster and Rodriguez have been joined by a who’s who of strong Hollywood women, including Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Gal Gadot, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ronda Rousey, and Eva Mendes. Though Brewster admits Mia “took a little bit of a turn toward domesticity toward the middle” of the franchise due to other projects Brewster was working on outside the Fast Saga, Mia’s back in F9 with a vengeance, tearing up the streets and pulling logic-defying stunts once again.

Joining Brewster this time around is Anna Sawai as Elle, a new character whose story becomes intertwined with that of the Torretto “family.” Brewster praises Sawai as being the latest woman to join the ranks and go “head to head against the guys.” 

“It really sheds light on the female voice in action movies,” Rodriguez shared with SYFY when we got a chance to go behind the scenes with F9’s cast and creators. (Watch the above video to hear more about what F9’s female cast members had to say.)

“Fast females take ownership of it,” Theron, who plays high-tech terrorist and franchise villain Cipher, added. “They raise the bar.”

Between Cipher and Emmanuel’s Ramsey, the Fast Saga is no stranger to tech-genius women taking ownership of a situation.

“I love Ramsey because she is so brilliant,” Emmanuel told SYFY at the press event. “She’s a genius [and] she knows it; she’s confident, but she can also be silly and fun and laugh at herself. She’s really proved herself as a valuable member of this team, just purely on her own abilities. I’ve always been attracted to playing women who are really brilliant at something. It’s something that when I look at my life and the women in my life, I realize that’s reflected in my life as well. I’m drawn to people, especially women, who I’m inspired by.”

With all these strong female characters taking charge, there’s been plenty of talk about hopes for a women-centric spin-off film to give these well-loved characters the Hobbs & Shaw treatment. When we brought the possibility up with Brewster, she was all ears: “We have so many strong, amazing women in this universe that we could probably kick some ass and it’d be really fun.”

Most of all, Brewster's excited to have Mia front and center again. Mia and the other women, she says, have benefited from the franchise’s evolution to include more women kicking ass and taking names. It’s an evolution, Brewster says, that “hasn’t been contrived... I think for a lot of films, oftentimes I can tell when a role has been written for a dude but then they just give it to the girl because they’re like, ‘Well, this is gonna do better. For optics, this is gonna be a better look for us.’ And it’s really obvious and irritating. But I think with our franchise we’ve always done a really good job.

“With the exception of the booty dancing scenes around the cars,” she adds, laughing. “Which we’ve pared down, thank God.”

F9 premieres only in theaters on June 25.

SYFY and Universal Pictures are properties of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.