So Kurt Russell has signed on for not one but two Fast & Furious movies. Fast 7 and Fast 8. He’ll either play Paul Walker’s father or the father of ‘Jesse’ (from the original movie), right now, we don’t know which. The next movie is sure to gross gargantuan profits, and I’m talking big even next to the recent movies. The cast has also now added Jason Statham and Tony Jaa, but more crucial – has a more talented director on board, James Wan, who has talked of making the action feel more old-school, with chases more like those seen in The French Connection. It’ll be an ensemble action movie. Hold up now… ensemble action? Something doesn’t add up here.
Kurt Russell doesn’t do ensemble acting.
Long time followers of The Expendables will know that it reaches way back into the 00’s, with Quentin Tarantino touting a WW2 ensemble with Stallone, Arnie etc. It was supposed to be called Inglorious Bastards. Eventually, Tarantino abandoned Sly, who went on to develop his own ensemble movie. But this is another matter (See: You Jelly, Tarantino?). Among the first people Sly contacted to star in The Expendables was Kurt Russell. Back in the day, on Sly’s official forums, most of us thought that Kurt Russell was a shoe in, along with Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Bruce Willis. This was, oh, about Christmas 2008 or early 2009. Eventually, Sly chimed in: “I know that many people on the site have asked for Kurt Russell. I asked for him too. Actually, I was taken aback when asked to put the request in a letter and send it to his agent. Subsequently, I was called back by the agent several days later after refusing to send a letter and he said Kurt Russell is not interested in ‘ensemble acting’ at this time. So, people, I came, I saw, I failed.”
So Kurt Russell can say no to Sylvester Stallone. Not only say no, but not afford the man the courtesy of a direct refusal. Sylvester Stallone is not a man you ‘send a memo’ to, especially when refusing him. Arnold Schwarzenegger, bigger star than Kurt Russell ever was, said yes. In fact, he said he’d do it for nothing. Mel Gibson, legendary action man and accomplished director, whose career Kurt Russell has basically admitted to ripping off, has also said yes. But Kurt Russell, apparently, was too good to appear alongside his peers in this old-school send up.
He didn’t do ensembles.
So while Kurt Russell is appearing in Fast 7 is appealing, especially since I personally believe it will be one of the better movies in that series, it’s also disappointing. It makes him look like a hypocrite. For a few reasons. Firstly, while we all know that The Expendables is hardly classy stuff, neither is The ‘Fast’ series. In fact, the last one not only had a plot just as bad as The Expendables 2, but had around 12-14 ‘regular’ cast members appearing in a 125 minute movie. That’s as much screen time for each actor as about two commercial breaks. You’d think for a guy who doesn’t do ensembles, the ‘Fast’ series would be even less appealing, especially since it’s aimed at a different generation.
So why the change of heart, Kurt?
Is it that Kurt Russell is a big fan of The Fast & Furious series? My bet? He’s never seen even one of them. But I’d also bet he’s astute enough to know that it’s absolutely huge and when they came knocking, or his little agent informed him of a letter from Universal, Mr. Russell saw past that long list of big actors appearing in the movie, and instead became fixated on that equally long list of zeros appearing on his pay cheque. And you know, that’s sad. A man like Kurt Russell doesn’t need money. And most of the current ‘Fast’ audience might have trouble recognizing him, so it’s not really a fan service. The bottom line then? I have lost respect for Kurt Russell, just like I have for Bruce Willis.
Kurt, you’re a hypocrite.