Playing villain an honour

Charlize Theron and Jason Statham at a media event in Beijing for the new film, The Fate Of The Furious, which is also known as Fast & Furious 8 in Singapore.
Charlize Theron and Jason Statham at a media event in Beijing for the new film, The Fate Of The Furious, which is also known as Fast & Furious 8 in Singapore.PHOTO: REUTERS

Charlize Theron is a fan of Fast & Furious series and is only too happy to play its first female criminal mastermind

Oscar winner Charlize Theron had no hesitation joining a popcorn movie franchise such as The Fast & The Furious series, playing the villain Cipher in the latest instalment Fast & Furious 8.

Speaking to the regional media at a press conference for the movie in Beijing on Thursday night , she said: "I'm a fan (of the movies), and as a fan, to be asked to be a part of a franchise that you love is an incredible honour. "On top of that, to be encouraged to come and play their first female villain, that's just a crazy honour. And to get the encouragement from everyone - the studio, the writers, the producers - to push the envelope and to be as psychotic as possible? Who doesn't want to have that job? I would be an idiot to turn that down."

Her character Cipher is a criminal mastermind who knows how to control machines and vehicles remotely, through computer technology. She cruelly manipulates leading man Dom (played by Vin Diesel) to work for her and turn his back on his loved ones, including his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and friends Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson).

Director of the movie, F. Gary Gray, 47, who was also at the press event, piped up with gusto: "Charlize as Cipher is hands-down the best villain in this franchise."

Joining them on stage was British actor Jason Statham, 49, who reprises his role as Deckard Shaw, a skilled assassin who now has to forgo his intense rivalry with agent Hobbs and work together with him to bring Cipher down.

Even though this is his second time in the role, it has not become any easier - mostly because the action in the new film has become even bigger than in the last movie, he said.

"It's difficult to think how to better the last one and, considering the last one, it's a real head-scratch. But they pulled it out of the bag, they really have. They have done everything, times 10."

As the trailer indicates, some mega-scale stunts that can be seen in the new movie include a huge submarine bursting out of the icy waters of Iceland. 

But as with all of the previous Fast & Furious movies, it is the crazy car stunts that fans will be most excited about - and Gray assured there will be plenty of them. 

He said: "I believe we destroyed hundreds of cars and I took great pleasure in destroying two Lamborghinis, a few Bentleys, a few Mercedes-Benzes. And also I'm a car guy, so it hurt my heart in some way, but I did this for you."

•Fast & Furious 8 opens in Singapore on April 13.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Playing villain an honour'. Print Edition | Subscribe