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SYFY WIRE The Fast and the Furious

How The First Fast and the Furious Movie Changed From Its Original Script

What are we...some kind of The Fast and the Furious?

By Josh Weiss

The extended Toretto family and the city of Los Angeles go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Like Batman and Robin. Like sexy hot rods and canisters of nitrous oxide. You can't really have one without the other at this point.

But when development first began on The Fast and the Furious more than two decades ago, the original draft of the screenplay by Gary Scott Thompson had the fast-paced action set against the backdrop of New York City. It made a ton of sense, of course. After all, Kenneth Li's "Racer X" article, upon which the whole franchise is based, took a deep dive into Manhattan's underground racing scene.

RELATED: Fast X's Alan Ritchson Told Vin Diesel He Hadn't Been Watching Fast Saga: "I'm an Idiot"

It wasn't until Erik Bergquist and David Ayer were brought on board to rewrite the script, however, that the Fast & Furious world as we now know it began to take shape. "David was really able to lend credibility and a voice of these young people in this world," longtime Fast Saga producer Neal H. Moritz told Entertainment Weekly for a 2021 oral history of the original film.

How David Ayer's The Fast and The Furious Rewrite Helped Launch the Fast Saga  

"It was set in New York and basically all white people. I said to the studio, 'I'm not going to do this unless I can set it in the L.A. I grew up in,'" Ayer explained. "For me, the whole diversity piece was absolutely paramount to creating this world, and this was at a time when nobody did that. I was the only white guy in my neighborhood, so that's what I know. And California has always been ground zero of car culture. You go down to the hood and dudes are still dropping $20,000 on quarter-mile races."

Recently appearing on Jon Bernthal's Real Ones podcast (via Entertainment Weekly), Ayer expounded on his research process, which revealed just how far street racers would go to soup up their vehicles.

"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 f— yeah, I'm gonna put that in the movie,'" he recalled.

The Fast and the Furious

Paul Walker had signed on to play Brian O'Conner before a script was in place, but his eventual co-star, a then-unknown Vin Diesel, needed a little more convincing (the studio initially wanted Timothy Olyphant for Dom). "They hired David and asked me to go page by page with my notes, and I thought that was really cool," Diesel recalled to EW. "I felt validated and heard."

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"I sat down with Vin and really created that character with him," Ayer continued. "Yeah, there were characters in the script but it needed life, it needed to become real, it needed to become dimensional. He had a few really specific ideas about the character, and those little touchstones he handed me became something I could flesh out. It's an honor to help an actor create and achieve a vision."

Since Dom ran a Cuban bodega with his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), Diesel went the extra quarter-mile by making the journey down to Cuba to truly get inside the head of his character. "The irony is I felt like I had gotten what the character wanted to be in the first script, but there were things conflicting with his truth. I had an idea of who he was. It was just an honor and a code he had."

Fast X is now available to purchase on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital. All formats include a slew of bonus features — including a gag reel, director's commentary, two music videos, and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Relive a small portion of the Fast Saga on Peacock with Furious 7 (2015). Fast X officially joins the streaming service Friday, September 15