The greatest Fast And The Furious stunt secrets revealed

Words: James Luxford
Images: Castrol EDGE/Universal Pictures

Legendary stunt driver Debbie Evans reveals how the franchise’s greatest auto tricks were done

The Fate Of The Furious is coming to our screens, hot off the billion-dollar success that was Furious 7. What’s the secret to the ever-evolving car stunts and action sequences that have kept fans coming back for 15 years?

Veteran stunt performer Debbie Evans, who’s worked on six of the eight films as a driver, takes us under the hood.

The first film’s daring truck heist was done for real

Debbie Evans

Debbie Evans has worked on more than 200 film and TV shows, including the legendary Steve McQueen-produced motorcycle film, On Any Sunday. She was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2003

© Castrol Edge

The first film begins with a nail-biting truck hijack. The stunt was done the old-fashioned way: for real, with no help from computers. “My all-time favourite stunt,” says Evans. “I got shot at, went back, then danced around with the truck – and because the truck was swerving, I dove underneath it, then pulled up alongside. It hits me, then I flip the car off the side of the road. That was all done practically, there was no CGI or any of that. I’m really proud of that work. It was a difficult thing to do, but I pulled it off and it looked really great.”

The evolution of the series is inspired by joysticks, not gear sticks

The original film was rooted in car culture, but the sequels have developed the series into an all-action franchise with every type of vehicle you can imagine. “I think what the franchise has done, it’s kind of evolved with the audience,” says Evans. “The audience is now more of a ‘computer game audience’, they’ve grown up having things that are beyond reality. It’s funny, because a lot of times we’ll go into the theatre to see it for the first time and the sequences that we thought were the dumbest things, the most unrealistic things, the crowd cheers at! We’re looking at each other and going, ‘really?’, so these things that they’re dreaming up that are unrealistic, somehow it’s flying. I don’t get it, but it seems to work!”

“The sequences that we thought were the most unrealistic things, the crowd cheers at – I don’t get it!”
Debbie Evans

If you’re shooting with The Rock, make sure you reinforce your car

Special preparations were needed for one shot in Fast & Furious 6. “I was in Dwayne Johnson’s car when he jumped off of the overpass onto the top of a flip car,” she says. “I had to put an apple box next to me, then put tie-downs around the seats so that I’d have something to lean against when he jumped. He was in the driver’s seat and I was driving while he was in the driver’s seat. He’s so huge he took up the seat and more!”

The Fate Of The Furious takes the cars off road – literally

The latest film includes several things Vin Diesel and co haven’t come across before, including driving on ice. “They keep thinking new things up for us, way outside the box,” says Evans. “We had the Iceland portion, which was all the amazing stuff on the ice, which was great and a lot of fun to do.” While the movie makers pride themselves on keeping it as real as possible, not every location is what it seems. “We shot Cleveland ‘as’ New York… because New York has limitations on the speed limit,” she says. “We always have to find somewhere else to do the majority of the work and then get the iconic locations like Times Square.”

As you may have guessed, these films are a driver’s dream

Even for a performer with over 200 credits to her name like Evans, the Fast And The Furious films give you a chance to tick some items off the Bucket List. “On 7, I got to drive the Dodge Challenger down Pikes Peak,” she says, referring to the famous mountain in Colorado. “It’s always been a dream of mine to race Pikes Peak, and I had to pinch myself, because I was there every day, going up and down the mountain, learning all the turns. It was just so much fun.” 

When it came to the best driver in the acting cast, there was no competition

When asked who the best driver in the acting cast was, Evans replies almost instantly. “Paul Walker,” she says. “He was a motor enthusiast, a real enthusiast. He put the time in, he raced, he was definitely a motor enthusiast. Great guy, too.”

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03/2017 The Red Bulletin

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