Interesting back story on how director Justin Lin got to do The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift the way he wanted, via Hyphen editor Brian Lam, via Jeff Yang’s Asian Pop column.
According to the column, Lin (pictured above on the set), who directed Better Luck Tomorrow, was tabbed to direct the third in The Fast and the Furious series of movies, but he told the studio he wanted to do it his way.
Here’s some excerpts from the column:
Lin no interest in stamping out a cliched, teriyaki-style remake of films one and two — or, for that matter, a nitro-burning turbocharged Lost in Translation.
“After I read the original script, they called me up and asked, ‘What do you think?'” says Lin.
“And I said, ‘I think it’s offensive and dated, and I don’t have any intention of doing it.’ But Stacey [Snider], the head of the studio, said, ‘Just tell us what you’d do differently.’ So I said, ‘To begin with, I’d get rid of all the gongs and temples and Buddhas and the visual gags about how the white guy is a foot taller than all the Asians.’ And she said, ‘OK, we’ll make the kind of movie you want.’ I was like, ‘Uh, are you sure?’
Lin’s first request was that the role of the protagonist, an American juvie who’s sent to live with his estranged dad in the Land of the Rising Tachometer, be rewritten to be played by an Asian American.
“They looked at me like I was stupid and said, ‘There’s nobody bankable,'” he remembers. “I said, ‘OK, well, if you think so, I want you to open the search up globally, Asia, Europe, Australia, whatever, and if the best actor for the role turns out to be Asian, you gotta give it to him.’ And it was pretty incredible — they went ahead and did it.”
There’s hope in Hollywood, maybe.
This post is also on Hyphen magazine’s blog.