Start the petitions. Notify lobbyists. When the 10th “Fast and Furious” movie is shot, I have a suggestion that is really more of a request: Vin Diesel and Helen Mirren need to kiss.
This was my main conclusion after watching the latest installment, “F9”, in which Mirren, 75, and Diesel, 53, share a car chase and display more crackling chemistry than any other duo in the film. She flirts with him, he beams up at her, and Diesel’s obvious pleasure in having Oscar winner Mirren as his stage partner is simply delicious. At the end of the streak, as her Queenie drove Diesel’s Dom Toretto through the streets of London, I couldn’t help but hope that she would bend over and kiss our hero.
And why not? In the previous movie “Fast”, Diesel kissed another Oscar winner, Charlize Theron. Imagine the kissing sequence that could be devised if even more Best Actress winners were persuaded to join the franchise: after Mirren, we might get Diesel in a romantic clinch with Frances McDormand! (Surely the flame of the Diesel series, Michelle Rodriguez, would issue a pass for that.)
Sometimes you have to be the change you want to see in the world, which is why I set up a video chat with Mirren this month to introduce her to this character who pairs directly to her. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation.
Your scene with Vin is the best in the movie, and it’s clear he adores you. Still, I have a note: there should have been a kiss, don’t you think?
A very chaste kiss would be nice, yes.
Look, I’d be happy with that. Maybe part of the excitement of this pairing is that it’s so rare to see Vin Diesel get into someone else’s passenger seat.
That is true. What an honor to find myself driving it, and also very intimidating. Vin doesn’t make it intimidating – he was so easy and adorable – but the technology of this type of shooting is very complex, and it’s a world that I don’t know at all. So it was a big help to have a good friend sitting next to me for sure. And just to hear that voice!
Tell me about it.
I mean, Vin has the most amazing voice. I get a little gooey when I hear it. That velvety brown rumble in your ear is so fabulous to experience for a day or two. It’s like hearing the most amazingly well-oiled engine.
You’ve always had great screen chemistry with bald action stars – Wine, Jason statham (especially in “Hobbs & Shaw”), Bruce willis (“Red” and other films). Is there something about you that plays well with this type of stoic action hero?
There could be! First of all, I approach these things with great respect for these guys because what they do is quite different from anything I’ve done in my career. Their commitment and in-depth knowledge of how these films work is very impressive. I still feel like I can learn from them. Maybe it’s the fact that I really bring a lot of respect that makes it all work, but I think they’re awesome.
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Still, the vibe you have with Vin is a cut above.
I think it is that we are so opposed on almost every level. But at the same time, there is a great mutual respect that goes both ways. Also, I met Vin’s mother, who is adorable, and I think there is also something there: he is very, very close to his mother and obviously loves her. She is adorable, very sweet and sweet. Not at all like Vin, but he likes it a lot!
And your character seems to like Vin, or at least feel affection for him. I think of your last sentence when he gets out of your car: “Don’t get killed, okay?” You are my favorite American.
He’s not my favorite American, Vin. My favorite American is my husband, Taylor Hackford. My next favorite Americans are my sons-in-law. But after that comes Vin.
This is your third film in the franchise after “Fate of the Furious” and “Hobbs and Shaw”, but it’s the first to get you into a real car chase. What was the delay?
Oh my God, that’s totally why I wanted to be in the movies! They actually wrote some great scenes for me, and I was part of creating the character in the first place – I wanted her to be called Queenie and come from that kind of East End family that I know a little – but mostly wanted to be behind the wheel of a car and, of course, that didn’t happen for two of the movies. Somehow they made it work for this movie, which was fantastic.
Did you keep pushing for that scene every time they brought you back?
I take it as it comes. And I moan a little, moan and whimper, and it works.
And you actually filmed the footage in London, right?
Being on the real streets of London, my hometown, was amazing to me. Seeing Vin in this context was surreal: the elegance and familiarity of London and Vin there was very contradictory! But I was delighted that the streak was set right in the heart of London and couldn’t believe they closed the mall leading to the Palace. I’m sure the Queen must have been out with the binoculars, don’t you think, looking at it all from the top bedroom window, “Oh my God, what are they doing? “
Or saying, “Mirren again? “
“Mirren again, really?” Will this woman ever leave me alone?
How long did it all take to shoot?
Three or four days that I was on, and then of course there were all the great driving stunts which are obviously done by experienced pilots. I am also a big supporter of stuntmen who receive an Oscar. I think there should be a category for it because the contribution of stuntmen to so many films these days is so huge and extraordinary.
Your cinematic family has grown pretty sprawling in this series, with Jason Statham, Luke Evans, and Vanessa Kirby all playing your kids. Have you given any thought to who might be chosen as an ex-husband?
I don’t know if I have the right to say it but apparently Vin had the idea of Michael Caine. I mean, wouldn’t that be fantastic? It would be so cool and absolutely perfect. So we’ll see.
Let’s put that in the ether, then. And while we do this, let me go back to my first question: if a chaste kiss can be arranged in the next movie, would you be open to it?
With Wine? Oh my God, of course I would! But only if he speaks to me before and after, because it’s the voice that I really, very honestly like.