While filmmaker David Ayer is probably best known for directing films like “Fury,” “End of Watch” and “Suicide Squad,” he broke out in 2001 by writing “Training Day” and co-writing “The Fast and the Furious.”
The former won Denzel Washington the Best Actor Oscar. The latter Paul Walker/Vin Diesel actioner spawned an 11-movies-and-counting franchise that has earned a combined $7.2 billion at the global box office.
Ayer recently told Jon Bernthal’s “Real Ones” podcast that he has “nothing to show” for writing the top-tier blockbuster franchise.
“Biggest franchise in Hollywood, and I don’t have any of it,” Ayer declared. “I got nothing to show for it, nothing, because of the way the business works.”
“The Fast and the Furious” was based on a Vibe Magazine article called “Racer X.” Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Berquist wrote prior drafts, and the former got sole “characters by” credit for the sequels. However, Ayer says he’s the guy who gave the material its of-the-moment realism and novel-for-its-time diversity.
Producer Neal H. Mortitz told Entertainment Weekly, for the original film’s 20th anniversary, that Ayer “was really able to lend credibility and a voice of these young people in this world.”
“When I got that script, that s–t was set in New York, it was all Italian kids, right?” Ayer stated. “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–t about street racing at the time.”
Twenty-two years later, Ayer feels that “the narrative is I didn’t do s–t, 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–king 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.”
Ayer further noted that the conflicts he experienced in Hollywood — his “Suicide Squad” was infamously recut by the studio aiming for a tone closer to “Deadpool” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” — led him to prioritize his own “creative freedom.”
“F–k 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–king 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.”
His lower-budget crime melodrama “The Tax Collector” opened during the COVID summer of 2020, while his upcoming Jason Statham actioner “The Beekeeper” is slated for theatrical release from MGM on Jan. 12, 2024.
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