Sung Kang has had an interesting journey in the Fast and Furious franchise. He made his Fast debut as Han in 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Even though he didn’t make it out of that film alive, he did wind up appearing in Fast & Furious, Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. How exactly did the series get away with that? By restructuring the timeline so that the events of Tokyo Drift happen after Fast & Furious 6. The thing is though, that still meant the fan favorite character died eventually. Or so we thought.
In the Fast & Furious 6 credits scene, it’s revealed that the accident that appeared to kill Han in Tokyo Drift was caused by Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, teeing him up as the antagonist of Furious 7. However, then the trailer for F9 came out and revealed Han’s return. How exactly did that happen and, perhaps more importantly, how does the franchise justify the character’s return story-wise? While one is bound to want to see a favorite character live on, it must be done with purpose.
While celebrating the release of the F9 director’s cut, Kang took a moment to walk us through the conversations he had about Han’s return and explain how director Justin Lin was instrumental to it. He began:
“I think if it was another director I’d never worked with before and I didn’t have the history I have with Justin, those conversations would have been very hard. And it might have never happened, right? Because how do you trust a character that is so beloved to someone that didn’t grow up with it or wasn’t there from the foundation? And in many ways, we started our career together, Justin and I. And we started this character together, right? The conversations have always been organic over the years of, ‘What if? What if?’ And, ‘How are we gonna do this?’ Justin being so precious with the Han character, if anyone was gonna take care of it it was gonna be him, right? I tell people Justin is more like Han than I am in real life. I think he knows the character maybe sometimes better than I do.”
Even after playing Han in four feature films, it turns out, the eight-year gap between the release of Fast & Furious 6 and F9 caused Kang to fall out of step with the character a little bit. He explained:
“When I went back to Fast 9, it was many years since I went back into Han’s shoes so my cadence was different in a way. I think I was anticipating too many things, especially forcing things with activities. Even the snacks, right? It became a gimmick because everyone associates a snack with Han where before it was a choice as an actor to make sure that I had an activity where I’m observing. And that’s where developing and growing with a director over the years, you’re able to have that shorthand and so there were times where I felt like I wasn’t really sure where Han was going and even my cadence was a little off, and then we would talk about, why is he here? Who is Han? How is he seeing the world? What are those snacks for? What are those tools for?”
So now for the big question — what about that magic trick? In F9, we see Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody watches Han’s car explode before it’s revealed that Han is standing right beside him. Han tells Mr. Nobody, “Pretty nifty magic trick,” but we never find out exactly what that magic trick is. Does Kang himself even know? Here’s what he said:
“I wish I could tell you what that magic trick is, but to be honest with you Perri, I have no idea what that trick is.”
Looking for more F9 conversations? Stay tuned because we’ve got interviews with Jordana Brewster, Vinnie Bennett and JD Pardo coming your way soon!