DC Director David Ayer says he has nothing to show for his part in writing 2001’s blockbuster hit The Fast and the Furious. “Biggest franchise in Hollywood, and I don’t have any of it,” the filmmaker told the Real Ones podcast via Entertainment Weekly. “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 story called Racer X. Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist worked on the first drafts of the script. However, David Ayer says he’s the one who added realism and diversity to the material. “When I got that script, that s**t was set in New York, it was all Italian kids, right?”
“Biggest franchise in Hollywood, and I don’t have any of it. I got nothing to show for it, nothing, because of the way the business works.”David Ayer on The Fast and the Furious
“I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m not gonna take it unless I can set it in LA and make it look like the people I know in LA, 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,” David 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**k yeah, I’m gonna put that in the movie,'” David Ayer added. However, the filmmaker feels like he never got the credit he deserved.
“It’s like people hijack narratives, control narratives, create narratives to empower themselves, right?” David Ayer explained. “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.” David Ayer also mentioned some tension he has encountered when dealing with Hollywood executives, which included struggling to maintain control over 2016’s Suicide Squad. Since then, he has placed a higher emphasis on creative liberty in his work.
“I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m not gonna take it unless I can set it in LA and make it look like the people I know in LA, 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.”David Ayer
“F**k all the middlemen, right? I get it. It’s up to me. I gotta self-rescue, right?” David Ayer said in a mini rant 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.”
Directed by Rob Cohen, The Fast and the Furious was the first installment in what has become a highly successful franchise. The movie is set in Los Angeles and follows Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), an undercover police officer who infiltrates a group of skilled street racers suspected of being involved in a series of high-speed truck hijackings.
Brian becomes close to the group’s leader, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), and learns more about their world. As Brian delves deeper into the street racing scene, he becomes torn between his loyalty to the police force and his growing camaraderie with Dominic’s crew. The film, co-written by David Ayer, led to the creation of a massive franchise that includes numerous sequels, spin-offs, and related media.
“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.”David Ayer
In a 2021 interview celebrating the film’s 20th anniversary, producer Neal H. Moritz said that David Ayer was able to “lend credibility and a voice to these young people in this world.” Despite not getting enough credit for his work on The Fast and the Furious, Ayer went on to work on several notable projects.
David Ayer gained significant recognition for writing the screenplay for the crime thriller Training Day, which starred Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. The film explored corruption within the Los Angeles Police Department and earned Washington an Academy Award for Best Actor. In 2005, Ayer made his directorial debut with Harsh Times, a crime drama starring Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez.
In 2012, David Ayer wrote and directed End of Watch, a gritty police drama that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as LAPD officers. The film received praise for its realistic portrayal of law enforcement and the bond between partners. Ayer also wrote and directed the 2014 World War II tank warfare film Fury, starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, and Logan Lerman.
In 2016, David Ayer directed the DC Extended Universe 2016 film Suicide Squad, featuring a team of antiheroes and villains from the DC Comics universe. In 2020, he wrote, directed, and produced The Tax Collector, a story that followed two enforcers known as “tax collectors” working for a Los Angeles crime lord.
David Ayer’s next directorial project is The Beekeeper, written by Kurt Wimmer. The movie stars Jason Statham, Jeremy Irons, Bobby Naderi, Emmy Raver-Lampman, and Josh Hutcherson. The film is set for release on January 12, 2024.