One of this year’s most anticipated summer movies is Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, a spin-off of the popular movie franchise that sees Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their respective roles as agent Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. The old foes team up in the film, which hits theaters Aug. 2, to take down “supernatural” villain Brixton (Idris Elba).
Director David Leitch, co-owner of 87eleven Action Design, one of Hollywood’s top stunt action consulting firms, had a unique opportunity to put his own spin on the near-20-year-old movie series. He recently sat down with Muscle & Fitness to discuss what that was like, the actors’ training for the film, and his cinematic inspirations.
M&F: Did you have any input on the way the actors trained for the movie, or did you have a specific vision in mind for how these characters should be physically built?
DL: We do train actors generally but when you have Dwayne who trains more—better than anyone—and Jason, who is a total athlete and has trained with our team at 87eleven on and off for a decade, that work is done for you. You just get to have fun with these guys who have made fitness a priority.
What was it like hopping onto this mega-franchise after so many installments? Do you feel like you were you able to leave your own mark on it?
Well, this is a spin-off, which allows you to make your mark but with characters people have already gotten to know. It was a fun challenge, and I am honored to have been a part of it.
What was it like directing The Rock? Is he loose on set; does he improvise at all?
The Rock is amazing. Present, easy-going, and quick to laugh. He does improvise, and it’s always about trying to make the scene and the character better for the audience.
Were there specific films that inspired your vision of Hobbs & Shaw?
Absolutely—Lethal Weapon, specifically, and old ’80s and ’90s buddy cop movies that we don’t see much anymore.
In terms of action scenes, what’s the balance between practical stunts and CGI set pieces?
Our [visual effects] executive at Universal told us he was shocked at how many practical stunts we captured. At one point he said it felt like the old days, but truly, this movie has a lot of [special effects] in it. We definitely suspend the laws of physics and gravity, just like the fast movies, but in our own way.
You got a chance to play in some gigantic franchises during your career. Is there any challenge out there you’d love to take on next?
Ah…so many things I’d like to do…and so little time. Ha. No really, there are a lot of franchises I’d like to reboot/spin-off like I did with this or Deadpool 2, but I’m also very excited about doing something more original, as well.