How the women of ‘Fast & Furious’ shaped the franchise’s lasting legacy

From Michelle Rodriguez's Letty to Charlize Theron's Cipher, the 'Fast & Furious' Saga has always placed female characters in the driving seat

In partnership with Universal Pictures UK

Since it first raced out of the starting grid in 2001, Fast & Furious has grown into one of the world’s most thrilling film franchises. Though the movies have their fair share of testosterone – not to mention plenty of axle grease – this high-speed world is also charged with alpha female energy.

With the latest instalment, Fast X, careering into cinemas on May 19, here’s a reminder of seven ways in which women have really helped to drive the franchise forward.

Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty is one of its very best racers


Letty Ortiz has been an integral part of the franchise since the very first film, 2001’s The Fast and the Furious. She isn’t just Dom (Vin Diesel)’s former childhood sweetheart, wife and most dependable ally, but also an incredible driver and gifted mechanic in her own right. “I know one thing about myself,” she says in Fast & Furious 6. “Nobody makes me do anything I don’t want to.” We’ll see lots more of Letty in Fast X, which marks Rodriguez’s seventh appearance in the franchise.

Jordana Brewster’s Mia is also a franchise mainstay

Like Rodriguez, Brewster is making her seventh franchise appearance in Fast X. As Dom’s sister Mia Toretto – and also the partner of Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) – she has been an important stabilising influence since the first film. However, this doesn’t mean that Mia is afraid to get her hands dirty. When Brewster returned in 2021’s F9, she said: “It was awesome to also be just a part of the hand-to-hand combat action and to get fight scenes again.” Mia is definitely a character with some surprising edges.

Fast X introduces another alpha female character

Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson joins the franchise as Tess, the loyal and highly capable daughter of Dom’s longtime associate Mr. Nobody. “She believes in the legacy that her father set up, which is standing with Dom and standing with the Toretto family, and is fighting for that,” Larson said recently. “Dom knows that she has a strong mind and definitely respects that she’s gone out of her way to talk to him and wants to build trust. What he asks of Tess is a test. Like, if it’s an impossible task, and she can get it done, then that’s family for life.” Colour us very intrigued.

The franchise also has an iconic matriarch figure

Fast X features the return of Helen Mirren as Magdalene “Queenie” Shaw, the formidable mother of Dom’s former rival Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). The legendary actress made her franchise debut in 2017’s The Fate of the Furious and joined Dom for a hairraising car chase through London in 2021’s F9. Mirren has said she based her character – a Cockney crime you wouldn’t want to mess with – on her own Aunt Queenie. She’s also tickled by the fact Queenie’s name offers a nod to her Oscar-winning role in The Queen.

It has a badass female antagonist as well

Fast X also sees the return of Cipher, the ice-cool cyberterrorist played by Charlize Theron. The Oscar-winning actress originated the role in 2017’s The Fate of the Furious, then portrayed her again in 2021’s F9, where she caused all manner of problems for Dom’s crew. Theron’s baddie is arrogant and has a tendency to brag about her accomplishments, but only a fool would underestimate her. Cipher is such a talented super-hacker that she has managed to wipe her digital footprint from all government databases – respect.

And an equally talented counter to her


Cipher isn’t the franchise’s only master hacker. British actress Nathalie Emmanuel made her debut as Ramsey, the creator of the God’s Eye hacking device, in 2015’s Furious 7. She has since become a vital cog in Dom’s racing machine, but expect her to be more hands-on than ever in Fast X. “She’s definitely much more open to driving than she was before,” Emmanuel said recently. “But in [Fast X], we see Ramsey taking the lead a bit more and continuing to affirm her place in the group and her necessity within the group, which is always really fun.”

The franchise has attracted top female artists from the music world

Rita Ora appeared in 2013’s Fast & Furious 6 as a race starter at a London rally, while 2015’s Furious 7 featured a cameo from ‘Fancy’ rapper Iggy Azalea playing a racing driver at a Race Wars event. More recently, Cardi B has a super-cool role in 2021’s Fast 9 as Leysa, the leader of an all-female military group supported by Queenie Shaw.

‘Fast X’ is in cinemas on May 19

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