/Film Interview: James Wan Talks 'Furious 7' Expectations, Scope And The Rock Bottom

James Wan is a big time director, but that wasn't by design. Wan directed six movies before taking the wheel for this weekend's Furious 7 and while many of them were huge hits, none of them compared to this. Furious 7 is a big budget blockbuster with six films preceding it. It's also in a genre – action – that he's never worked in. Films like Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring all connected with audiences, but they were set in small locations with moderate to small budgets. Furious 7 takes place all over the globe with some of the most insane stunts you've ever seen. It also had to cope with the terribly tragic death of one of its stars, Paul Walker. Which is all to say, James Wan really had to step it up.

We'll leave the Walker discussion for after opening weekend but, with the film now in theaters, here's the rest of our interview with James Wan. He talks about the challenge of Furious 7 acting as a sequel to two Fast and Furious movies simultaneously, changing his focus from horror to action, the size and difficulty of those massive action scenes, the fact The Rock does his signature WWE move in the film and the pressures of The Conjuring 2. Read our James Wan Furious 7 interview below.

James Wan Lucas Black Furious 7

/Film: I want to start by saying I'm one of the weird people whose favorite film in the franchise is Tokyo Drift.

James Wan: But you're one of the cooler people. And I love the fact that you're okay with that.

I say that because one of the reasons I was so excited for this movie is you were finally gonna wrap up that storyline. And then when Lucas Black was announced in casting, I literally jumped up in excitement.

Did you like the way we brought him into this film?

Lucas Black Fast Furious

I did and that's my question. Talk about a little bit of matching those films and how you decided how much or little you wanted to use that tangent.

So obviously we had aspirations to kind of use more between Vin and Lucas there, but how long ago was Tokyo Drift?

It was like 2006, something like that.

So that's close to 10 years ago, right? And so people have grown in 10 years. You look different in a decade. And so for that, just from a continuity standpoint, I couldn't really do too much with that. And so I could use footage from Tokyo Drift, but then after that, now I could use just enough that you kind of roll right into this story without harping on Tokyo Drift, which is a tricky one, because that's the one that the least amount of people have seen.

After Tokyo Drift, every Fast and Furious film has to up the ante. 

Right.

Furious 7 flying car

And I think the way you guys did it was make the action scenes longer. How do decide the ways to expand from the previous film and am I right in saying that as epic and magnificent as the stunts are, these scenes are much more in depth and longer than the other ones? 

Well I don't know. Geez, I guess that's just by the nature that we shot so much. 'Cause the shoot was so long. I didn't necessarily go into this trying to top what they had previously done. It was more a case of, for me, I'm such a big action film junkie that I wanted to see stuff that I had not seen before. Right? Now whether that's throwing cars out of the back of a plane or cars going off road in the mountains, watching a giant armored bus teetering on the edge of a cliff.

Even to like smaller action sequences too. Like, you know, where Paul's character is fighting Tony Jaa and they're fighting on a door that's going down the stairs? You're on a sleigh ride. I mean, geez, if that sequence doesn't say this is a fun roller coaster ride of a movie, I don't know what does, right?

Totally yeah. I loved that.

So just a lot of things like that that I wanted to do that we haven't quite seen before.

Okay. Now you mentioned the length of the shoot. How long did each one of those scenes take roughly?

Vin Diesel Fast and Furious 7

Oh it depends. I think the mountain assault sequence, that's probably the longest one. And that's with stuff cut out as well. And I think the ending is pretty epic as well. The problem is when you start out big, then it needs to get bigger and bigger.

So ballpark how long did the mountain scene take to shoot?

To shoot? Oh, collectively it's between two units. There are like two units running concurrently, right? So you have your stunt and action and then you have your actors and then obviously you have like visual effects as well doing what they need to do to kind of make it all work and gel it all together. So probably the mountain assault sequence was the most involved. I mean, every, all the action scenes were very involved. But if I had to put them in order, that one's on top.

James Wan Furious 7 Interview

/Film: The horror movies you made are usually super serious 'cause in horror you went for suspense instead of the goof This movie obviously has a tone that's completely different. You could do anything. You can ride down the stairs on a sleigh. What was it like getting your head around the fact that now you can drop in cheeseball fun lines and you can make cars fly? Where in Insidious and Saw, it was like you have to dial it down a notch.

James Wan: I joke and I say, I need to go back to make a supernatural horror film just to so that I can make a movie that's grounded again.

[Laughs]

Listen, you know, like coming into a movie that is a number 7, it has a lot of baggage already there. It has a lot of things that are already setup. The world was very established. And so instead of coming and trying to kind of go "Oh man, you know, what can we do here?" Even in the initial treatment the cars falling out of the back of a plane was in place. So it wasn't something that I came up with. My job was come into this and go "How can I make this as fun as possible?" I'm coming in to play in a playground that belongs to the producers to the actors and to the studio. My main prerogative was "How do I make this fun? How do I show other people that if they only thought of me for one genre, they're gonna think twice now." And so I saw that as an opportunity that was very exciting. And I just went for it. I go "Screw this, I'm just gonna have fun with it."

Along those lines one of my favorite shots is you have The Rock actually doing the Rock Bottom.

[Laughs] The Rock Bottom.

Furious 7 Rock

Was that your idea? The Stunt Coordinator? His? How did that come up? That he's gonna do his signature finishing move from wrestling?

Well that's actually something that Dwayne wanted to do. Yeah, he wanted to bring that just for his wrestling fans. And so I love that he wanted to bring that signature move. And so I go "Okay, you do your signature move. I'm gonna do my signature camera move with it, all right?" And so that was when I spun the camera with his amazing move and just to amplify this really cool thing that he's doing in the film.

It's great. Now, watching the end of Fast and Furious 6, we think Luke Evans' character's dead. But he's in the first shot of this movie. He's also in the theme park ride. I know you can't say anything specifically but is that something fans should speculate about?

Well the great thing about the Fast and Furious world is everything is up for speculation. Yes, anything is a possibility.

Fast and Furious 7

There you go. And so like you said, you went from horror movies and you wanted to mess with tones and genres. What did you learn from making this movie that you're going to take moving onto your next projects?

I think making such a huge film and been me thrown into the deep end and being taught to swim. I really learned the process of huge budget filmmaking. That's a big one for me. And I think after having made this movie, I feel like I can do anything. I can make any kind of movies. I can put up with any kind of situation. And I can tackle them. So I think that's the biggest thing that I've learned. I've learned at the end of the day what Paul ultimately showed me is if you're a great guy like he is, after you pass on, your legacy will live on forever and you'll be beloved as a great human being. And that's exactly who he was.

Great. And the last thing, The Conjuring 2. This is a movie that had a release day while you will still making Furious 7. And that date is coming. Is that scary? Are you working on that while you're finishing this?

Conjuring 2 delayed

Well let's just say the initial release for Fast and Furious 7, which was supposed to be summer last year, was even scarier. Cause this is such a huge movie, right? And no, I think I'm not as scared with Conjuring 2, because we have a really great script that I'm very excited about. And that's always the biggest challenge, right? When you're forced into a release date, the script is what usually suffers. And I feel like that is not the case here and I think the further adventures of Ed and Lorraine Warren is very cool.

Furious 7 is now in theaters. Check back Monday for the Paul Walker section of our interview.

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