This past weekend The Fate of the Furious did the unthinkable: it had the highest-grossing international opening of all time.
At $532 million worldwide, Fate beat out legendary film franchises such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. What’s more, it propelled the Fast franchise becoming the eighth-highest grossing film franchise of all time, edging out names like Spider-Man, Transformers, and Jurassic Park.
The films became an iconic crown jewel for several of the actors – the late Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and of course Christoper Bridges, aka Ludacris. Ludacris was an interesting addition, however. He was brought in for the second film, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and came back to become a regular from the fifth film forward.
How did this happen?
As it turns out, Ludacris got the part because another hip-hop star, Ja Rule, had blown his chance to be part of this franchise.
For those of you who don’t know, Ja Rule had originally been in The Fast and the Furious, having a small role early in the film’s first act as one of the drag racers that loses to Vin Diesel’s character Dom.
Director John Singleton wanted to bring Ja Rule back for the sequel so the character could be expanded on (and possibly redeemed) from the first film. According to Singleton, as reported by Grantland, Ja Rule got a bit too full of himself. Quoted below:
“He was acting like he was too big to be in the sequel. He wouldn’t return calls. I went to the studio to go see him — that’s just my mantra, I deal with a lot of music people. He was kinda playing me to the side and I was like, ‘What?”
Singleton then decided to make another call – this time it would be to another rapper.
His name? Ludacris.
According to Singleton, Ludacris was “all humble, [and] excited to meet,” which was the same enthusiasm Singleton received when he invited Ludacris to be in the film. Listen to Ludacris tell his side of the story at the ChooseATL Lounge during South by Southwest:
Singleton’s decision proved to be a lucrative one for Ludacris. He got his acting career jump-started in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and also recorded one of the most iconic hip-hop songs for the soundtrack, Act a Fool. Ludacris used the opportunity to work on other films such as Crash, and has been a regular in the Fast franchise since, including the film’s most recent entry.
As for Ja Rule? He was one of the biggest artists in hip-hop at the time, however it wouldn’t last. Maybe it was his ego, or maybe it was his infamous feud with 50 Cent and G-Unit (and by extension, Eminem and Dr. Dre) that robbed Ja Rule of his crown. One thing’s for certain: Ja Rule must be kicking himself now.