'Hobbs & Shaw' director on how those top secret, A-list cameos tie into the 'Fast & Furious' franchise (spoilers!)

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Fast & Furious fans will show up to the franchise’s first spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw, already primed to see Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs kicking ass and trading insults with Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw. But the movie also introduces two new faces into the F&F cinematic universe… and they’re ones you’ll recognize right away. Ryan Reynolds appears early on in the film — as well as in a pair of scenes that come in the middle and after the closing credits — as a CIA agent named Locke, and Kevin Hart pops up midway through the action as Dinkley, a federal Air Marshal eager to join Team Hobbs and Shaw as they take on super-villain Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) in pursuit of a killer virus.

Both surprise appearances earned big laughs and cheers at the screening Yahoo Entertainment attended, and director David Leitch says that that was precisely the reaction he hoped for. “Those two cameos were born out of the want to take the franchise in a tonally more fun way,” he tells us. “The heart and soul of Fast & Furious is family… but I wanted to add that next dimension, which is the fun of it all.” (Watch our video interview above.)

Having directed Reynolds in last year’s hit Deadpool sequel, Leitch has a direct line to Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth, and he took advantage of it when he realized that the role of Locke — whose primary function is setting the plot in motion — needed something a bit extra. “I called Ryan and said, ‘Would you be interested in playing this character who gives us a bunch of exposition and sets our guys on their mission?’” Letich recalls. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, I would love to do that.’” (It’s worth noting that Locke has a London-adjacent CIA colleague, Agent Loeb, played by Catastrophe star, Rob Delaney, whose cameo was met with a smaller, but equally enthusiastic, cheering section at our screening.)

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham trade insults and punches in Hobbs & Shaw. (Photo: Frank Masi / © Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection)

According to Leitch, Reynolds showed up on set armed with his own jokes, which included multiple digs at the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones. “There are some that ended up on the cutting room floor,” the director teases. “He came up with a list of gold, and you just gotta decide what gold you want to keep.”

Johnson also called in a favor for a friend, making it clear early and often that he wanted to find a part for his Jumanji co-star (and Instagram buddy) Hart. Having already decided that Hobbs & Shaw was going to be his homage to ‘80s action buddy movies like Lethal Weapon and its many sequels, Leitch knew that the perfect role for Kevin Hart would be as the next Joe Pesci. “[Dinkley] was a character in the script who gets things for them, like the Leo Getz character,” he explains, referring to the fast-talking facilitator that Pesci played in Lethal Weapon 2, 3 and 4.

“It was a nice nugget for Kevin to come in and present his comedic brand to the world, and let audiences know that in the future we’re going to be having fun with this universe. We take ourselves seriously to a point, but fan enjoyment is first in this franchise.” And you’d better believe that Leitch is already thinking of a spinoff to the spinoff. “Wouldn’t that be amazing? Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’s Dinkley & Locke,” he jokes. “It would be three titles.”

Besides Reynolds and Hart (and Delaney), Hobbs & Shaw adds Hobbs’s extended Samoan family as well as another Shaw sibling Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) to the Fast & Furious mythology. But the film also incorporates numerous references to existing franchise canon. Here are some of the biggest connections between this spinoff and the main series of movies.

Helen Mirren returns as Mama Shaw… but she still doesn’t get to drive

Helen Mirren returns as the Shaw family matriarch in Hobbs & Shaw. (Photo: Universal/YouTube)

Oscar-winner Helen Mirren surprised — and delighted — the world when she revealed to Yahoo Entertainment in 2015 that her “grand ambition” was to play the villain in a Fast & Furious movie. That wish came true in 2018, when she landed the role of Shaw family matriarch, Magdalene, in The Fate of the Furious. In that movie, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) visits her in order to arrange a long con that makes her sons (and his family’s former enemies) Deckard and Owen (Luke Evans) into temporary allies against Charlize Theron’s Cipher.

When we meet her again in Hobbs & Shaw, Magdalene’s criminal activities have earned her a stint in the slammer, and she seems happy to remain behind bars even though Deckard offers to cut her sentence short with a good old-fashioned jailbreak. She’s more receptive to that plan when he pays her another visit at the end of the film, this time with Hattie in tow. That will presumably explain how Magdalene is free to take on Cipher again in the currently-shooting Fast & Furious 9which recently announced the returns of Theron and Mirren. Here’s hoping director Justin Lin fulfills the actress’s other lifelong dream: actually driving in a Fast & Furious movie.

Leitch knows that fans want #JusticeforHan, and promises that it’s coming

Sung Kang as Fast & Furious fan favorite Han Lue. (Photo: Giles Keyte/©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

In a notable bit of retconning, Hobbs & Shaw all but expunges Deckard’s criminal record that’s been in place since his introduction at the end of Fast & Furious 6. In the film’s climax, Brixton reveals that he and his employers at the big, bad Eteon corporation framed Shaw for the crime that ended his career as a soldier — the murder of his entire black-ops team — and set him on the path to becoming the cynical mercenary we met three movies ago.

While he may not have killed his fellow soldiers, he did end the life of one F&F fan favorite: Han Lue (Sung Kang). Han isn’t mentioned by name in Hobbs & Shaw, but Deckard does allude to the fact that he has crimes to make amends for, and Leitch says that line was included in the script with #JusticeforHan in mind. “It’s a really important thing,” he insists. “We have plans for it in the future, but it wasn’t right in this moment when we’re trying to define a new franchise. But Shaw says that for exactly that reason. There are things he’ll have to make amends for, and as we build Shaw into the hero he is for this franchise, he will have to pay the piper.”

Samantha Hobbs will soon be old enough to drive

Eliana Su'a arrives at the Hobbs & Shaw premiere in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

Forget Hobbs & Shaw: We’re waiting for the inevitable Hobbs & Hobbs team-up movie. Newcomer Eliana Su’a takes over the role of Luke’s daughter, Samantha, previously played by Eden Estrella in Furious 7 and The Fate of the Furious. While she’s still a little girl to her dad, Sam’s now old enough to watch Game of Thrones and listen in on important CIA debriefings. She’s sitting next to Luke when Locke explains all the gory details of Eteon’s virus, and intercepts another call from the wisecracking agent at the end of the film where he sets up the next mission. Don’t be surprised if she’s soon riding shotgun next to Luke, followed by her own turn in the driver’s seat.

Hobbs’s next nemesis is someone from his past

Johnson and Statham in Hobbs & Shaw. (Photo: Daniel Smith / © Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Brixton Lore may give Hobbs and Shaw somebody super-strong to punch, but he’s merely a foot soldier in a larger war. Just as Darth Vader answered to Emperor Palpatine, Brixton gets his marching orders from Eteon’s unseen overseer, The Director. Thanks to a voice scrambler, it’s impossible to discern the Director’s identity, but we do learn that she or he has a history with our favorite DSS agent, who has been making enemies within the F&F universe since 2011’s Fast Five.

While Cipher is one possible contender, it’s unlikely that Hobbs or Shaw will factor into the events of Fast & Furious 9 when she’ll make her grand return. And even though it’s widely known that Diesel and Johnson aren’t pals in real life, Dom’s a little too busy to be running a multi-national criminal corporation. A slightly more plausible roster of pre-existing candidates includes Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) — handing in her undercover U.S. Customs agent badge for a more lucrative line of work — a resurrected Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) or maybe, just maybe, a vengeful Han. Of course, if the filmmakers really wanted to blow our minds, they’d just hand the role to Ian McDiarmid, one of the greatest villains in this galaxy or one far, far away.

Hobbs & Shaw is playing in theaters now. Visit Fandango and Atom Tickets for showtime and ticket information.

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