Kurt Russell Needed Some Convincing To Join The Fast And The Furious Franchise

In James Wan's 2015 mega-blockbuster "Furious 7," a car located on the 80th floor of one of the Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi speeds out of the window, crashing through the glass, and into the open air. The car then smashes in through the window of the second Etihad Tower, and skids safely to a halt on the 75th floor. It's an act of cartoonish daredeviltry that is emblematic of the Furious series at large. Looking at "Furious 7," and its two follow-ups, it's curious to ponder that the series started as a mid-budget "Point Break" knockoff about street racers who steal DVD players. 

As the series progressed from its humble origins — and became larger and larger in both budget and scale — a recurring ensemble began to form. After a while, the character in the "Furious" series became a sort of superhero team. Indeed, a scene in "F9" saw Tej (Chris Bridges) pondering that he and his compatriots might actually be legitimately immortal. It makes logical sense, given the extreme scrapes the heroes have escaped. That film also featured a scene where a car is launched into space. Additionally, the "Furious" movies have attracted a higher and higher caliber of talent, and such notable actors as Helen Mirren, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Ryan Reynolds, Cardi B, and Idris Elba have all appeared. Brie Larson and Jason Momoa are scheduled to appear in the upcoming "Fast X." 

In "Furious 7," Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team are recruited by a mysterious and super-covert government spook whose assignments are so secretive, he doesn't even have a name. The crew refers to him as Mr. Nobody, and he's played by Kurt Russell. Russell, 65 at the time, initially did not have his heart set ablaze by the role. 

Mr. Nobody

Russell has an acting career that reaches all the way back to his childhood. In an early role, Russell can be seen kicking Elvis Presley in the shin. He had already participated in many, many high-profile studio films, and was content to work as his whim suited him. According to a profile 2016 profile in GQ, the idea of playing a hard-edged government agent in one of the world's largest action franchises didn't seem the least bit appealing to Russell. The actor said "I was just loving life, you know. Sometimes I think I just want to do that." Russell owns his own vineyard and sells his own brand of wine, GoGi Wine

The character description he was given for Mr. Nobody certainly isn't something to get thrilled about: "a lieutenant arriving with his Special Ops team." It wasn't until he received a recommendation from an unnamed friend of Russell's — who was also his former agent — that the actor reluctantly reconsidered. He said: 

"He said, 'I just think it would be good for you.' [...] And that was one of those times when I said, 'Maybe you need to hear that—maybe you need to listen instead of just saying: I don't think so'."

According to GQ, Russell hastened to add that "I don't think so" moments do not happen often. Once he accepted the role, he began giving his input to the filmmakers, trying to expand Mr. Nobody into more than a glorified deliverer of missions and exposition. There was a gruffness to the character, but also an intriguing mystery to his backstory. Russell would welcome comparisons to "Men in Black." 

Enjoy some wine

Russell also accepted the Nobody role under the stipulation that he be allowed to leave the series. Unlike a lot of actors involved in mega-franchises, Russell seemingly did not sign a multi-film contract. When it came time to make "The Fate of the Furious," Russell did, however, have to agree prior to the completion of a script. Russell typically doesn't like to do that, and called it "jumping without knowing the temperature of the water." Prior to that, the actor took comfort in knowing that his character might be offed at any moment. He said:

"They didn't know if they wanted to kill the character in the first one, and I said, 'Well, let's work on it with the assumption that he is going to be killed — then you can decide if you want him to continue on, and I can decide if I want to continue doing it.'"

Russell's Mr. Nobody also appeared in Justin Lin's "F9," although his role was very minor. By all advanced word, Russell will not be appearing in the upcoming "Fast X," due in theaters on May 19, 2023. His absence from online credits listings doesn't necessarily preclude a cameo, but it's more likely that he simply won't appear. Incidentally, "Furious 7," which made over $1.5 billion worldwide, is handily Russell's most financially successful movie. More importantly, however, he was allowed to approach the film as his own pace, and play the character the way he wanted. It seems that he won all around. One can now imagine Russell sitting back and enjoying a class of GoGi Wine.