Last week, Collider was invited to sit down with Paul Walker for a lengthy interview, to discuss his remarkable work in the dramatic thriller Hours, about a father (played by Walker) who struggles to keep his infant daughter alive in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. While we will run the portion of the interview where he talked about that film and his experience making it, closer to its December 13th theatrical release, we did want to share what he had to say about Fast & Furious 7.
Due out in the summer of 2014, Fast & Furious 7 has a new director in James Wan (The Conjuring), which not only made Walker nervous, but made him question whether to actually return for another film, at all. During this exclusive interview with Collider, he talked about what sold him on James Wan, as a director, what he was like to work with on set, how what he’s doing with the film has a definite look that’s all his own, and how the entire cast embraced him. He also talked about how the studio is hoping for a Fast & Furious 8, 9 and 10, but that there will definitely at least be an eighth film. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
PAUL WALKER: It’s crazy! We’ll see what happens with this next one.
How has it felt, having a different director with James Wan?
WALKER: I was so scared, going in without Justin [Lin]. I ran into J.J. Abrams at South by Southwest, and he was like, “Hey, what’s up man?” I did Joy Ride. He wrote Joy Ride with Clay Tarver, and I did that movie in 1998, before J.J. was J.J. I think Felicity came right after that, or something. He’s a cool guy. It doesn’t seem like he’s changed that much, which I was stoked to see. I said, “They want us to go do another Fast & Furious, but my man, Justin, isn’t coming back. I don’t know if I want to do it.” He said, “Fuck, don’t do it then.” That was coming from a director. I thought that was cool. I really was like, “I don’t know.” And Justin passed on a crazy amount of money. I was like, “Wow, Justin, good for you, man. This takes a lot of your life. You’ve been doing it for a long time. Go do something else.” Directors are married to a project for so much longer than actors are. We’ll go do three in the time it takes for a director to finish one.
I was still deciding, and Peter Safran, a producer on Hours, did The Conjuring with James. So, when James was anointed as the new guy, Peter called me up and said, “Dude, you’re gonna love him. That guy’s amazing!” Coming from Peter, that meant something. I really respect him. I was like, “That’s good.” And then, it turned into a conversation with James over the phone, and I was like, “This guy is so sweet. He’s so nice.” My intuition is on point with people. I can read people. Even through the phone, you can read sincerity. You can’t bullshit me. I’ve been around too many sharks, for too long. I was like, “He’s a really good guy.” I called up Peter and was like, “You weren’t kidding. This guy is awesome!” And then, I was like, “Sweet people get eaten up.” I started thinking like that.
So, I was having these conversations with him, and I think it was the third conversation when I said, “Do you realize what you’re getting into with this thing? This movie means far too much to too many people.” It’s not just that, on the day, but think of how many stars there are, how many producers, how much this represents to the studio, and the fan pressure. So, when I said, “Do you realize what you’re getting into?,” he was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!” And then, about two weeks into it, he was like, “The real answer is no, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. I really believed I was gonna have more freedom and get to do more stuff on this than I did on the smaller movies, but it’s just the opposite.”
Maybe this is just horrible bad, but I think I’ve had enough successes to where the journey is more important to me now. There’s no guarantee, no matter what. We get one run in life. I don’t want to work with douchebags. I wanna work with good people. I don’t want to work with screaming, yelling directors who’ve got daddy issues. I just don’t want to deal with those guys. James is really excited on set. He’s just a cool guy. There wasn’t nearly enough time for prep. We got it going way too fast, like we always do. There are times where he was barely able to keep up with it because it was moving so quick, but you’d never know it because he won’t reveal it. He’s a little ninja. He’s a little assassin warrior. Justin was the same way. He has the heart of a lion. I’m really, really impressed with James, as a person. The shots and what he comes up with, there’s a certain fluidity. He definitely has a look. He’s a shooter. He has good movement. I like his angle and composition, and the way he looks at things. He’s a talented guy. We’ll see what happens. He deserves a victory, I’ll tell you that.
WALKER: He hasn’t done as much of it. It takes everybody a little bit to find their stride, but he figures it out really quick. I couldn’t do what he’s doing right now. I’ve been around it a long time, and I couldn’t do it. I police personalities and make sure things are harmonies. That’s what I do. I just want there to be good energy, all the time, and I think that works well with a director like James. With this one, I think it’s cool ‘cause everyone was a little fearful with Justin leaving and bringing in a new guy, but the entire cast embraced him and was cool with him. They wouldn’t feel as compelled to do that, if he didn’t exude what he does. It’s not so much being good guys, as much as it is wanting to be a good guy because he’s a good guy. It’s pretty cool. I like seeing that.
Have you had any conversations with Vin Diesel about how many more films you want to do and how long this franchise can realistically go on?
WALKER: Well, the studio supposedly wants 8, 9 and 10. I’ll be 50. Even if 7 were to [tank], there’s at least an 8. That’s a guarantee. The thing that’s pretty crazy is that neither Vin nor I were going back to do the third one. They were going to do a direct-to-video 4. They were going to dispose it and be done with it. But then, Vin was like, “No, I’ll come in for a cameo,” because it wasn’t testing well. He wanted to set up the fourth one and the studio went for it, and we got a second life. It was supposed to be done already.