In a recent interview on Jon Bernthal's Real Ones podcast, the Suicide Squad and End of Watch director lamented that he has "nothing to show" for writing The Fast and the Furious, the first film of the blockbuster series.
"Biggest franchise in Hollywood, and I don't have any of it," Ayer said. "I got nothing to show for it, nothing, because of the way the business works."
Released in 2001, The Fast and the Furious was based on a Vibe magazine article titled "Racer X." Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist wrote previous drafts of the script, but Ayer says he's the one who grounded the material in realism and diversity.
"When I got that script, that s--- was set in New York, it was all Italian kids, right?" he told Bernthal. "I'm like, 'Bro, I'm not gonna take it unless I can set it in L.A. and make it look like the people I know in L.A., right?' So then I started, like, writing in people of color, and writing in the street stuff, and writing in the culture, and no one knew s--- about street racing at the time."
Mike Marsland/WireImage; Everett Collection David Ayer; Vin Diesel in 'The Fast and the Furious'
Ayer continued: "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.'"
In 2021, for the 20th anniversary of the film, producer Neal H. Moritz told EW that Ayer "was really able to lend credibility and a voice of these young people in this world."
The Fast & Furious franchise has gone on to gross more than $7 billion worldwide, with more movies in the works, but Ayer feels that "the narrative is I didn't do s---, right?"
He said on Real Ones, "It's like people hijack narratives, control narratives, create narratives to empower themselves, right? And because I was always an outsider and because, like, I don't go to the f---ing parties. I don't go to the meals, I don't do any of that stuff. The people that did were able to control and manage narratives because they're socialized in that part of the problem. I was never socialized in that part of the problem so I was always like the dark, creative dude, beware."
A representative for Universal Pictures, the studio behind the Fast & Furious movies, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ayer said the tension he's experienced with Hollywood executives — which also extended to his struggle to control 2016's Suicide Squad — led him to prioritize creative freedom in his projects.
"F--- all the middlemen, right? I get it. It's up to me, I gotta self-rescue, right?" Ayer said on Real Ones. "I can f---ing whine about getting shot at and all the rounds I've taken over my career — I've gotta self-rescue, and I've gotta create an ecology where it's safe for me to be creative, and that's it. And that's what I'm doing now."
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