Anyone who’s seen even one of the 11 (11!) Fast & Furious movies can tell you that these supercharged blockbusters aren’t about cars going vroom. They’re about family, as well as the Family, the latter referring to the sprawling cast of characters that orbits around Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto. Members drift in and out on the whim of actor availability (and, occasionally, story), but Fast X, now in theaters, is a reminder that Family Is Forever.
That said, at this point the Family is so sprawling it’s easy to forget that famously memorable leading man Scott Eastwood is technically a member. Even the most fervent of Fast Fans could probably use a refresher now that we’re 11 movies deep. Going into the first part of the supposed two- (or, if Vin Diesel gets his way, three-) part franchise finale, there are a handful of key characters whom fans should be up to date on (we’re going to leave Dom out because it feels reasonable to assume anyone buying a ticket to the yet another F&F movie knows who Diesel is playing). Below, you can find some brief background on how they became a part of the Family, the role they play in it, and where they stand as the franchise’s latest installment revs its engine.
Played by: Jordana Brewster
Relation to the Family: Biological — she’s Dom’s younger sister. She’s also the wife of Brian O’Connor, played by Paul Walker through the first seven films in the series.
Has she ever been presumed dead?: Nope, but she’s sat a couple of installments out — before F9, we hadn’t seen Mia since Furious 7, in which her role was relatively minor.
Wait, if she’s in Fast X, who’s with her kids?: I dunno — Brian, probably?Babysitters exist.
Played by: 16-time WWE Champion, five-time United States Champion, four-time Tag Team Champion, two-time Royal Rumble winner, one-time Money in the Bank winner, and star of Scooby Doo!: Wrestlemania Mystery John Cena
Relation to the Family: He’s Dom and Mia’s estranged (but not anymore!) brother.
Don’t you think it’s weird that they never mentioned having a brother for like nine movies before he showed up?: I do!
Any explanation: No.
Has he ever been presumed dead?: It’s kind of tough to say because the origin of Jakob’s estrangement from the Toretto family is that he lost in a race to Dom where the stakes were, in pro wrestling terms, Loser Leaves Town and he just …left town. I don’t know if you could say he was presumed dead but Dom and Mia clearly didn’t know if he was still alive for a while. He was though — it turns out he’s been working as a black-ops mercenary for years.
Weird family: Weird family!
Played by: Michelle Rodriguez
Relation to the Family: She’s an OG member, first appearing in the original The Fast & the Furious as Dom’s ride-or-die. These days the two are married and she serves as a surrogate mother to his son, Brian, introduced in F8.
Has she ever been presumed dead?: Yup. Letty dies off-screen in F4, her murder eventually being revealed as the result of an undercover op she was pulling with Brian (in exchange for Dom’s legal record being purged). She returned in F6 with amnesia, serving as part of a lethal hijacking unit the Family found themselves pitted up against. Eventually her memory began to return and she rejoined the good guys.
Played By: Tyrese Gibson
Relation to the Family: Roman’s ties go way back — he’s a childhood friend of Brian’s, first introduced in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Roman sat out for the increasingly less standalone Tokyo Drift (more on that later) and F4 but returned as a crucial member of the heist crew in F5. He’s stuck around — mostly talking a big game and then getting relentlessly clowned on by everyone else — ever since.
Has he ever been presumed dead?: Not yet.
Is he still the problematic friend you just barely put up with?: Yes.
Played by: Ludacris
Relation to the Family: Like Roman, Tej is an old friend of Brian’s who first appeared in 2 Fast and later joined up for Fast Five. He’s a wiz mechanic who generally serves as the crew’s tech guy and has a great love-hate dynamic with Roman.
Has he ever been presumed dead?: Nope.
This is the guy who hacks into government databases in some of these movies, right?: Yeah.
I thought he was just a mechanic?: I mean, he’s a mechanic.
Who hacks into government databases?: Yeah.
… Alright: Cool.
This is the guy who went to space, yeah?: Same guy.
In a car?: In a car.
Seems worth noting: I dunno, there’s legitimately a chance nobody mentions it in Fast X. These movies have short memories.
Played by: Nathalie Emmanuel
Relation to the Family: The Fam crosses paths with Ramsey in F7. She’s the genius hacker who developed the MacGuffin of that film: the God’s Eye, a program that allows the user to hack into any camera in the world, effectively the key to creating a surveillance state.
Has she ever been presumed dead?: Not yet!
And she’s a hacker?: Yeah, she’s all about hacking.
Played by: Sung Kang
Relation to the Family: We first see Han as a member of the Family in F4, where he’s a member of Dom’s crew in the Dominican Republic. He’s integrated into the larger Family in F5 during the Brazil job.
Has he ever been presumed dead?: *sigh* We doing this? Okay. Yes, Han is presumed dead in both Tokyo Drift (the first Fast film in which he appears) and F6, which technically depict the same event due to the series’ slightly wonky chronology. Long story short: Tokyo Drift was originally mostly standalone in the franchise, with the only ties to the larger F&F world being a Dom cameo at the end. Han was an instant fan favorite and something of a pet project for director Justin Lin, with a version of the character having appeared in the director’s second film, Better Luck Tomorrow. Han dies in a car wreck in Tokyo Drift, hence the Dom cameo — he’s in Tokyo to pay respects to an old friend. When Lin came back to direct F4 (and 5 and 6) he brought Han with him, immediately setting up a new chronology for the franchise. It’s nowhere near as complicated as some make it out to be — it simply became clear that any F&F movie featuring Han from here on out took place before Tokyo Drift. The timelines finally converged at the end of F6, albeit with a slight retcon: new big bad Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is revealed to be the driver of the car that killed Han, an act of revenge against the Family for their defeat of his younger brother, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), in the film. F7 and everything that follows takes place post–Tokyo Drift (albeit with Dom’s trip to Tokyo being briefly depicted in the film).
Okay, gotcha: You sure?
Yeah, I’m sure. But wait, he came back from the dead in F9?: Yeah, it was a whole thing.
Sounds complicated: Very much so.
Can we do a new character now?: Yeah, calm down.
Played by: Jason Statham
Another bald guy?: Yeah but this one’s British.
Is he a monarchist?: Unlikely.
Relation to the Family: Growing up did you have a friend who you met because you beat up his brother and sent his brother to prison so he pulled up to a street race in Tokyo and seemed to kill one of your boys as retribution and then chased you around the world trying to beat you to gaining control of a military surveillance program and eventually you had to summon an earthquake to beat him and a few years later you were begrudgingly forced to work together to save the world from a hacker played by Charlize Theron and he really came through in making sure your son (who you didn’t even know existed until a few days before) made it out safe so you decided he’s cool despite the fact that he for sure murdered your friend and then it turns out he didn’t murder your friend because your friend faked his death so now it’s all truly water under the bridge?
Yeah: Right, so he’s one of those guys.
Easy enough. Has he ever been presumed dead?: No, Dominic Toretto literally made a city street collapse on him and he was fine. I think he might be invincible.
So wait, how did Han and Mr. Nobody know that Shaw was going to try and kill him? Like, how did they have the foresight to turn that murder attempt into an opportunity to fake Han’s death?: Next question!
Played by: Dame Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren?!: DAME HELEN MIRREN
Relation to the Family: It’s hard to say for sure if Queenie constitutes as a Family Member as she’s yet to be invited to a cookout, but her now-consistent presence in these movies as an ally of Dom’s seems to qualify her. Queenie is the mother of Owen and Deckard Shaw, who have since made good on their villainous pasts and now serve as sometimes-reluctant allies to the Family (they have attended a cookout, which does empirically qualify them as Family). We first meet her in F8 and she returns (albeit behind bars) in Hobbs & Shaw. When she shows up in F9 she has a literal girl gang. Like a gang of girls. And they do crime together.
Has she ever been presumed dead?: No, long live Queenie.
Did they finally let her drive in F9?: Yes, thank God.
Think she’ll do it again in Fast X?: If she doesn’t I will be writing a strongly worded letter.
Played by: Cardi B
Oh for real?: Yeah, for real.
Relation to the Family: She’s part of Queenie’s gang and helped bust Dom out of a tight spot in F9. They seem to have a history of some sort but it’s unclear what that history is. Her whole vibe is mostly, “I am Cardi B.” Which is a great vibe!
And she’s back in Fast X?: Apparently so!
Has she ever been presumed dead?: Not to our knowledge. She’s been in these movies for all of, like, twenty seconds. Hoping she doubles it in Fast X!
Played by: America’s sweetheart, Scott Eastwood
Relation to the Family: He’s Mr. Nobody’s apprentice in Fate of the Furious and sort of plays the same role that Cyclops does to the X-Men. He’s the guy whose job is to be a lame stiff and tell people to stop doing cool stuff because it’s against the rules. He and Roman have a fun little back-and-forth due to Roman being super into breaking rules. Roman is a lot like Wolverine in that respect as long as you don’t apply any semblance of wider critical thought to that comparison.
Has he ever been presumed dead?: No, but I don’t think anybody expected to see him back after the one movie he appeared in so in a sense this is a resurrection.
Santos & Leo
Played by: Don Omar and Tego Calderón
Relation to the Family: Santos and Leo first appear in the short film Los Bandoleros, a cool little prison break movie serving as a prequel to the fourth film in the franchise. They joined the crew for the bank heist in Fast Five and have appeared intermittently since. We last saw them at the cookout in F9.
Have they ever been presumed dead?: Nope!
Played by: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Relation to the Family: Government agent assigned to hunt down the Family in Fast Five and reluctantly joins forces with them to beat the bad guys at the end of the movie. He’s folded into the family after that and they work more jobs together, traveling all over the globe and saving it more than once.
Wait—: I know, I know.
But I thought—: Same, man.
He’s back?: It’s a rumor.
Even though?: Even though the long-simmering feud between Johnson and Diesel boiled over years ago, leading Johnson to leave the mainline franchise to try his luck at a Hobbs spinoff with Statham’s Shaw? Even though after seemingly smoothing things over and agreeing to an eventual reunion Diesel threw some verbal barbs at Johnson unprompted, leading Johnson to politely state publicly that he would not be returning to the franchise? Yeah.
Do you think this feud has just been total bullshit to build hype for his eventual return to the franchise?: I mean, yes and no. I definitely think the whole thing reeks of pro-wrestling booking and if anything I think it’s a bit like the Rock/Cena run from 2011-2012 where Cena and Johnson used their very real beef with one another to fuel a long-form story that continued long after they’d settled their beef. This is to say that I absolutely believe that those dudes hate — or at least at one point hated — each other (they literally never occupy the frame at the same time in Fate of the Furious despite sharing scenes, allegedly because they refused to be on set at the same time). Yet, regardless of their feelings toward one another, they have realized that controlling the narrative of that feud and resolving it by way of Hobbs making his grand return to the franchise is (pardon the wrestling pun) money in the bank.
You’ve put a lot of thought into this: Yeah.
You don’t think it’s a waste to spend this much time speculating on the marketing potential of the relationship between two big bald actors whom you’ve never met?: I live my life a quarter-mile at a time.