The Most Overqualified Performances In The 'Fast and Furious' Family
The Fast and the Furious franchise can be summed up in one word: family. That translates on screen and off, as many of the actors who make up this long-running series return again and again to face off with Team Toretto or eventually join the ranks of this ever-evolving crew. However, a few of the actors are more than just fast and furious - they're overqualified.
In this instance, “overqualified” doesn't mean that an actor is better than the franchise, or even that they're slumming it for a paycheck. Here, “overqualified” is used to denote how insane it is that an actor with an OBE (the second-highest rank of the Order of the British Empire) or an Academy Award for best actress is trading lines with Vin Diesel.
Every single one of these actors adds some class to the Fast & Furious franchise - but which of them adds the most esteem?
- 184 VOTESPhoto: F9 / Universal Pictures
Not only is Helen Mirren technically a "dame," but she's also the recipient of an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a Tony, and a Laurence Olivier Award for her work on the British stage. Aside from those top-tier awards, she won the Cannes Film Festival Award for best actress in 1984, and in 2021, she received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, so she's easily the most overqualified actor in the Fast & Furious franchise (not to mention the National Treasure and Prime Suspect franchises).
This overachiever status is one of the reasons it's such a joy to see her on screen with Vin Diesel at least once a movie. It's obvious that Mirren is having so much fun using her cockney accent and talking about pulling car-based capers, almost as if she's in an ongoing audition for a Guy Ritchie movie.
- 269 VOTESPhoto: Hobbs & Shaw / Universal Pictures
Who are you going to call in when you need a heavy to play a cyborg baddie opposite Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson in a Fast & Furious offshoot? Obviously Idris Elba. DJ Big Driis not only has an OBE, but the guy also played Stringer Bell on The Wire and he's a truly charismatic presence whenever he's on screen - more so than Johnson or Statham. Audiences just want to see what the guy's going to do.
As Brixton Lore (yes, he plays a character named Brixton Lore), Elba brings humanity to his role as a cybernetic former MI6 agent trying to get his hands on “Snowflake,” a pathogen that can take out half of the Earth's population. This role could have easily gone to a jobber, but Elba gives the character some real oomph, and he's just an absolute treat to see on screen.
- 375 VOTESPhoto: The Fate of the Furious / Universal Pictures
Charlize Theron absolutely shreds. In films like Fury Road, she's shown that she can carry two hours of heart-stopping action, and in films like Monster and Young Adult, she's proven that she can ground an emotionally draining drama. Oh, and she won the Academy Award for best actress in 2004, so she's definitely way overqualified for her role as Cipher, a '90s-style hacker and cyber-criminal mastermind.
Throughout Fate of the Furious, Theron chews scenery and monologues about everything from the myth of security to government oversight while holding Elsa Pataky and her baby hostage as she treats Toretto like her puppet. It's pretty wacky.
Theron is clearly here for a tasty paycheck, and there's nothing wrong with that. She breathes life into scenes that would otherwise be boring bad-guy monologues, and there's something exciting about seeing a real-life A-list movie star wearing white dreads and talking about hacking the "mainframe" with the same poise as if they were fighting for their lives in a dreadfully serious piece of Oscar bait.
- 469 VOTESPhoto: Furious 7 / Universal Pictures
Kurt Russell basically invented the concept of the himbo hero with Snake Plissken in Escape from New York and Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China. Without Russell's film work in the 1980s, it's likely that the action genre would be wildly different today, and that includes the Fast & Furious franchise.
The weight of Russell's filmography is why he works so well as Ego the Living Planet in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and it's why his role as “Mr. Nobody” in the ever-increasingly strange adventures of Dominic Toretto and his family is so confounding. Mr. Nobody is a fairy godfather and government spook rolled into one. He's kind of a take on the Men in Black (the real-life 1950s men in black, not the Tommy Lee Jones version of the character), but also a benevolent force who just wants Toretto and his crew to help save the world again and again.
Even though he's severely overqualified for his role as Mr. Nobody, it's just nice to see Russell's face on screen and get a hint of his charm. Audiences may not need an entire Nobody movie, but it would be great to see him in a few more scenes down the road.
- 547 VOTESPhoto: Furious 7 / Universal Pictures
Djimon Hounsou's on-screen career has certainly been circuitous. With work as a model, a music video hottie, and ancient alien in Stargate, Hounsou was on track to be a chiseled character actor from the early '90s, but it was his role in Amistad that earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
Following his role in Amistad, Hounsou continued to rack up critical acclaim in films like Gladiator, Blood Diamond, and In America - earning a pair of Oscar nominations in the process - but this guy loves to come in and dunk in the MCU, so it makes sense that he'd do the same in the Fast & Furious franchise.
As Mos Jokande, Hounsou is spectacular at delivering ridiculous technical exposition while giving off this incredibly intense air that makes audiences feel like he really could be an ex-mercenary.
- 663 VOTESPhoto: Hobbs & Shaw / Universal Pictures
It is legitimately insane that Ryan Reynolds has an uncredited role in Hobbs & Shaw. Cast due to his friendship with the film's director (Reynolds and director David Leitch worked together on Deadpool 2), Reynolds is so famous that we don't need to explain why it's weird that he's in this movie. Aside from playing Deadpool in a series of very successful films and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he also ran the 2000s as the king of smirking, likable jerks.
The extreme fame of Reynolds is why it's so great that he pops up in Hobbs & Shaw for a single scene of exposition and a mid-credits sequence. Whenever he pops up here, it's clear he's having a great time, and that's why audiences like seeing this guy on screen.