David Ayer Has ‘Nothing to Show’ for Writing ‘The Fast and the Furious’: ‘The Narrative Is I Didn’t Do S—’

As a co-writer of 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious,” David Ayer helped launch one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time. Yet, the “Suicide Squad” and “End of Watch” director says he has “nothing to show” for his contributions to Universal Pictures’ high-octane racing series.

“Biggest franchise in Hollywood, and I don’t have any of it,” Ayer said on a recent episode of Jon Bernthal’s “Real Ones” podcast (via EW). “I got nothing to show for it, nothing, because of the way the business works.”

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With 10 mainline movies plus a “Hobbs & Shaw” spinoff, the “Fast & Furious” franchise has grossed over $7 billion. A follow-up to 2023’s “Fast X,” as well as another standalone movie focused on Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs, are already in the works.

“The narrative is I didn’t do shit, right?” Ayer continued. “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 fucking 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.”

Co-writers Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist had written previous drafts of “The Fast and the Furious,” based on a 1998 Vibe magazine article titled “Racer X.” But Ayer says he came in and completely changed the setting, grounding the story in authentic Los Angeles street racing culture.

“When I got that script, that shit was set in New York, it was all Italian kids, right?” Ayers said. “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 shit about street racing at the time.”

Explaining the research he did for the script, Ayer added, “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 fuck yeah, I’m gonna put that in the movie.'”

The film’s sequel, 2003’s “2 Fast 2 Furious,” was written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, with Thompson receiving a “story by” credit.

Ayer went on to speak more generally about how his experience dealing with studio executives has restricted his creative freedom, as evident in the long-mythologized “Ayer Cut” of 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” for which DC fans are still holding out hope. (Ayer recently said on Twitter/X that DC boss James Gunn told him the director’s cut “would have its time to be shared.)

“Fuck all the middlemen, right? I get it. It’s up to me, I gotta self-rescue, right?” Ayer told Bernthal. “I can fucking 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.”

Universal Pictures did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

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