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F9 star Sung Kang explains just how hard it was to keep Han's return to 'Fast & Furious' a secret

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Jun 21, 2021, 3:44 PM EDT

More than a year ago, back when we still thought F9 was going to be the film to ignite the summer movie season of 2020, fans everywhere felt their jaws drop when the first trailer revealed that a character we all thought was dead was alive, well, and ready to drive once again. In a franchise full of surprises, the ninth installment's reveal that it would feature the return of Han Lue (Sung Kang) to the Fast fold ranks among the biggest, and it took some extraordinary secrecy to pull off. 

Speaking to Digital Spy, Sung Kang — who was last part of the Fast team proper in 2013's Fast & Furious 6 — explained life on the set of F9 given that everyone at Universal Pictures was determined to keep his return a secret up until the January 2020 trailer drop. Unfortunately, it meant some special moments with castmates had to be missed, because he couldn't risk being photographed on the set by anyone. 

"[Writer/director] Justin [Lin] and Universal, everybody was really on top of hiding me on set. There's a lot of cast photos early on. If you look at the Fast 9 photos from set, there's all these birthday parties and stuff, I'm never invited," Kang said. "I would see the birthday cakes from afar, but it's part of the fun. It's really cool to be part of that kind of narrative."

Though F9 was ultimately bumped by the COVID-19 pandemic from its original May 22, 2020 release date, Han's return to the franchise remains a key point of hype for fans, particularly since we still have absolutely no idea how it's possible. Han was seemingly killed all the way back in Tokyo Drift, but the fourth, fifth and sixth installments were ultimately set up as prequels so we could see his relationship with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the Toretto crew in more detail. The opening of Furious 7 in 2015 ultimately took place roughly simultaneously with the end of Tokyo Drift in the series timeline, and revealed that Han's death was actually the work of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a character who has since become an ally to the Fast heroes, sparking the "Justice for Han" fandom movement that was given a nod in the F9 trailer. It's a complicated situation made more complicated by Han's return, but there's no way anyone is getting the secret of how it goes down out of Kang, even if they share a bed with him. 

"I actually haven't even told my wife," he said. 

He added, "I think if it wasn't Justin, I would be very concerned and apprehensive. But Justin and I, we developed the character together. He understands that character as much as I do."

The secret behind Han's return will be revealed when F9 speeds into theaters this Friday.

(Universal Pictures and SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal.)