It’s official: F. Gary Gray will direct Fast & Furious 8!
The 46-year-old director confirmed the news himself on Facebook Thursday with an expression of gratitude and excitement.
“I could not have asked for better partners than Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz, & the Universal Studios Entertainment family. Together we are excited to bring you the next chapter in the Fast & Furious saga. #FastFamily”
The rumors of F. Gary Gray being the chosen director for the next installment of the blockbuster Fast & Furious were initially sparked by Furious 7 actor and producer Vin Diesel.
Early Tuesday morning, Vin changed his Facebook cover photo to a picture of F. Gary Gray sitting alongside him. Behind them was a framed photo collage filled with stills from previous Fast & Furious movies.
Vin did not add a caption or any type of description to the picture, but it was enough to get the rumor mill spinning.
This is not the first time that Vin Diesel will have a leading role in one of F. Gary Gray’s films.
Nearly 12 years ago, Vin starred in the leading role of the 2003 film A Man Apart which was directed by F. Gary Gray. In the film, which also starred actors Larenz Tate and Timothy Olyphant, Vin Diesel played criminal-turned-DEA agent Sean Vetter.
A man apart. Vin diesel är grym! pic.twitter.com/qojlKjAbc9
— C. Kinnunen (Chris) (@Sep19th86) March 22, 2015
As a director, F. Gary Gray’s career dates back to the mid-1990s when he directed the popular 1995 film Friday starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.
— Wilson Morales (@blackfilm) April 26, 2015
Gray later collaborated again with Ice Cube behind-the-scenes of his most recent box-office hit, Straight Outta Compton.
In an August interview with Deadline, F. Gary Gray opened up about how his working relationship with Ice Cube originally started on the set of a music video that he directed with rapper William Calhoun (aka “WC”).
“[Ice] Cube was doing a guest appearance on this video, which was my first, and we hit it off. I was able to do a few music videos for him that really took off. ‘True To the Game,’ and ‘Today Was a Good Day’ really blew up and made him mainstream as a solo artist. This was my film school. From that came ‘Friday.'”
During the same interview, F. Gary Gray made it clear that his transition from directing music videos to feature films was not an overnight decision. It was apparently part of a plan that he developed back in high school.
“People have a misconception that I started in music videos and woke up one day and decided to do movies. That’s not the case. At Highland Park High, they teach you to set your goals — long term, medium and short term. And all the intermediate steps you’d have to take in between.”
F. Gary Gray initially set the goal of directing his first feature film by the age of 45. However, at the age of 46, he has already directed eight feature films with at least a couple of future projects currently in development — including Fast & Furious 8.
Quite a few fans and critics of the Fast & Furious franchise became highly skeptical when it was first announced that there would even be an eighth movie.
With the tragic death of actor Paul Walker and the beautiful ending of Furious 7, many expected that was the best way for the franchise to end.
they coming out with a Fast Furious 8? no we don’t need to cause Paul Walker is already passed away
— ☯ j the abstract ☯ (@hotcoolnvicious) October 8, 2015
They’re making a Fast & Furious 8 but without Paul Walker?! No point..
— King James Jr. (@Hated_Lightskin) October 6, 2015
However, Vin Diesel and Universal apparently had a different plan in mind. Vin says that the conclusion of the Fast & Furious franchise will come in the form of this final trilogy — a trilogy that will start with an F. Gary Gray-directed film in April of 2017.
[Image Credit: Facebook & Kevin Winter/Getty Images]