Fast and Furious 9 cars motor into Hatfield for movie's opulent tuner party
- Credit: © 2021 Universal Pictures
Featuring full throttle action, the Fast & Furious movies are synonymous with high-performance cars.
Automotive eye candy is an intrinsic part of The Fast Saga and has helped propel the adrenaline-fuelled franchise to global box office takings of more than $6billion and counting.
Vin Diesel's character Dominic Toretto loves American muscle and a Dodge Charger.
As the ninth Fast blockbuster hits cinema screens across the globe – it's already opened to fans in Korea, China, Russia and the Middle East, making it the number one movie in the world last month – we go behind the scenes of the latest chapter in Dom Toretto's story.
In keeping with the Fast franchise's name, there were high-spec supercars on show when the F9 production crew drove into Hatfield two years ago for filming of the latest instalment of the high-octane adventures of Dom and his crew.
Filming of Fast and Furious 9 saw vehicles worth approximately $8million pull into the grounds of Hertfordshire stately home Hatfield House in the summer of 2019 for an exotic tuner party, with Ferraris and even an Apollo IE among the expensive cars on show.
From the moment Dom Toretto and Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) pulled up to the starting line in The Fast and the Furious behind the wheels of a classic American muscle car and a tuned-up neon-colored import, the film struck a cultural nerve and has become forever linked with global car culture.
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While Dom and each member of the team have their signature cars, the true showcase of a Fast film’s eye candy is the tuner party scene.
Stunning women and sleek and sexy supercars seed F9’s party, which is decidedly upscale and very European – and it was filmed in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
A mainstay of every chapter in the series, F9 director Justin Lin envisioned an elevated, Kubrickian vibe with a black-and-white theme juxtaposed against the historic Jacobean estate where the scene was shot.
To achieve the dazzling spectacle, Lin wanted a fleet of exotic black supercars, and hundreds of beautiful women all dressed in white.
Dressing that many women in white posed a challenge for costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays and her team, and they left no stone unturned to achieve it.
They scoured both on-trend fashion websites and brick-and-mortar stores in the UK and US to complete the task.
Fast star Vin Diesel posted Instagram videos from the shoot at the 400-year-old stately home, which is situated just north of London.
Standing in front of the modern Renaissance water sculpture, the Hollywood star revealed he was shooting "an intense scene" with American wrestling legend John Cena, who plays his forsaken brother Jakob in the movie.
"We're on set here in Fast 9 and it is another amazing location," says Diesel in the video post.
"The locations in this movie have been incredible, from Thailand to LA and all through Europe.
"I'm doing an intense scene today [August 28, 2019] with John Cena, who is killing his character. He's gonna blow you away when you see him in Fast."
In another Instagram video posted from the set a few days later, Vin Diesel shows the lavish, night-time party being filmed outside the North Front of Hatfield House.
In the second video he explains: "So I'm in the middle of a scene. Remember I told you there was going to be a really intense scene... this is a different take on a tuner party.
"This is Fast 9, we're at the end of week 10, and this is a unique European take on an opulent version of a tuner party. And you know this is like nothing you have ever seen."
In F9, Dom is escorted to meet spoiled billionaire and budding despot Otto – played by Fast newcomer Thue Ersted Rasmussen – at his grandiose estate, and is greeted with the sensory-overload spectacle of a tuner party happening on the grounds.
For Thue Ersted Rasmussen’s flamboyant aspiring autocrat, the tuner party scene saw the Danish actor wearing a Dolce & Gabbana smoking jacket and silk pyjamas.
Dom, Otto and Jakob Toretto are dead serious while hedonistic frivolity swirls around them amid the meticulously manicured and sprawling grounds of the Hatfield estate, which was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I.
To set the scene, over a dozen UK-based car enthusiasts accepted the invitation to show off their prized four-wheeled possessions worth millions in total.
Motors parked outside the North Front entrance of the Hatfield mansion for filming included a TVR Sagaris, a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ, a Lexus LFA, a Lotus Evora, a Mercedes AMG GT R, a Lamborghini Countach Anniversary Edition, a McLaren 720S, and the pièce de résistance, an Apollo IE and a Ferrari LaFerrari.
Then there's the purple Noble M600 driven by Magdalene 'Queenie' Shaw, played by Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren.
From her first appearance in The Fate of the Furious to her most recent in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Helen Mirren has fully embraced her role as Shaw family matriarch Queenie.
Her brief but cheeky role in The Fate of the Furious gave film audiences a look at both the calculating East London crime boss and the loving mum to her wayward son Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).
With F9, audiences get some tantalising insights into Queenie's background and a hint at just how big of a player she may be on the international stage.
As Dom attempts to track down little brother Jakob in London, he knows that his best option for accurate intel is Queenie.
When he finds her, she definitely makes an impression, glittering and gliding around a soiree at a high-end jewellery store… and casing the joint in the process!
Mirren and Vin Diesel shot the scene at Boodles, the luxury British jeweller, which loaned the production its hallmark million pound necklace – a 64-carat Greenfire emerald and diamond platinum-set – for Mirren’s Queenie to wear.
Mirren also got to slip behind the wheel for the first time in a Fast film.
On screen, Queenie takes Dom for a little spin in a Noble M600 through London’s dark streets, passing Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace and other iconic city landmarks.
The M600’s powerful 650-horsepower engine can hit a head-snapping 120mph in 8.9 seconds.
Upping the style level is the regal purple colour that director Lin, inspired by his beloved Los Angeles Lakers, requested for the car’s custom paint job.
“Vin and I had so much fun working together,” says Mirren.
“Vin loves to dig into scenes, and I love that. Dialogue has to service the story, the action and everything that's happening on the screen, and he understands that, especially with this franchise.
"But not only was I able to work with my dear friend again, but they gave me an amazing sequence and an incredible car to drive.
"The Noble is British-made so I'm thrilled with that. It’s a wonderful piece of machinery with the most glorious shade of purple."
Long-time Fast alumnus Dennis McCarthy returned as F9’s picture vehicle supervisor to curate and custom-build the unique fleet of motors for his eighth film in the franchise.
McCarthy's London-based counterpart, picture vehicle supervisor Alex King, sourced dozens of exotic supercars for Otto's exclusive tuner party filmed in Hatfield, as well as for the posh party Queenie Shaw crashes.
For that Queenie scene, shot along the street outside high-end jewellers Boodles in the Mayfair, King’s team showcased the Noble M600 along with a Bugatti Veyron, a Bentley Continental GT, a Rolls-Royce Wraith, an Aston Martin Rapide, a Morgan Aero 8 and a Mercedes SLR McLaren.
All said, around £2million worth of high-end supercars graced the set for filming just that one scene.
What cars and vehicles are in Fast and Furious 9?
From exotics, American muscles, Japanese imports, and military armoured and off-vehicles, to custom-built specialty cars and rigs with the production’s special-effects teams, the filmmakers relied on their veteran go-to team to create the most thrilling vehicle fleet in Fast franchise history.
A big element of the third-act chase sequence is the monstrous 14-foot-high, 26-ton, three-section armoured vehicle dubbed the Armadillo.
Working with production designer Jan Roelfs, it took picture vehicle supervisor Alex King and his department four months to work out the mechanical, electrical and fabrication requirements to complete two versions of the Armadillo and to have them prepped and ready for filming in Tbilisi.
“The Armadillo is the biggest on-screen vehicle I’ve ever seen and certainly that I’ve ever built,” King says.
“The moment I saw the first concepts, I knew it would be a challenge. I just needed to work out how best to achieve that build."
King adds: "The Armadillo outperformed our expectations and it looks like nothing is going to stop it, and that was the whole point.
"It’s the biggest and toughest thing on the road and it just keeps going. It’s like the Hulk on wheels.”
Elsewhere, off-road ATVs, motorbikes, military trucks, American classic cars and high-end performance vehicles were all essential to the action director Lin visualised.
While Dom is a Dodge man through-and-through, the rest of the team get to flex their automotive muscle in their own inimitable ways.
Whether on a Yamaha YZ250F, a Harley Davidson Iron motorcycle or a 1969 Chevy Nova, Letty’s need for speed is satisfied, while Tej’s cutting-edge-yet-functional Jeep Gladiator gets the job done.
Han’s return could only be behind the wheel of a sleek, turbocharged orange/black 2020 Toyota GP Supra, which is an emotional throwback to the similarly colored Mazda RX-7 he drove in Tokyo Drift.
Director Justin Lin also had a very specific vision for Jakob Toretto’s car.
A Ford Mustang was his only choice for Jakob, an accomplished LA street racer in his own right.
Jakob’s car is a modified high-performance 2016 Ford Mustang GT350 with a supercharged V8, 640-horsepower engine.
“Being a storyteller is a gift, so joining a global franchise where there’s a focus on cars is something special for me,” Cena says.
“It was really cool to be surrounded by elements of automotive culture every single day.
"The Fast franchise still keeps its roots in the car culture — and the people clamouring for what’s next in the car world — and I think that’s really special.”
Fast and Furious 9 is released on June 24 in the UK and June 25 in the US.