Michelle Rodriguez’s lead stunt driver chats to Hollywood Treatment

To celebrate the release of FATE OF THE FURIOUS out on DVD out August 2nd, Hollywood Treatment caught up with one of Hollywood’s top stunt women, Debbie Evans.

Debbie has been Michelle Rodriguez’s lead stunt driver for the Fast & Furious franchise, featuring in 6 of the 8 films.

“This is what we do and prepare ahead of time to get everything ready and take as much danger out of it as possible and make sure that everybody’s on the same page and knows exactly what the other people are going to do. So it’s a lot of brilliance and focus. And then when they say, rolling and action, everything kind of comes from a wide perspective and goes to a tunnel vision where everything just seems to happen.”

Did you ever think that the franchise would take off the way it did, and be so successful when you first started?

It’s really funny because we were working on the first one and we were all talking, “Well, this will never go, but, we sure had a lot of fun doing it.”

And then it just took off like crazy. We are so glad because one of the reasons we thought that (it would not be successful) was because the drama seems to be doing better in that particular time and for a {car} movie to take off like that was just really something special, and to see it keep going is just iconic. I mean, I’m so glad to be a part of the franchise from the beginning and, it’s just amazing. I am really looking forward to the next film.

How do you feel about the rumours of Cody Walker trying to bring the next films down under?

Will be fine with me as long as they bring me. [Laughter]

That’s good. What was it like walking with such an awesome cast?

Well, they are an awesome cast and I worked pretty closely with Michelle and she loves the action part of it and she is an action star and it’s really nice to be able to double her. So she kind of understands, what we are going through, what we like, and I think secretly, not so secretly, sometimes she would like doing what I do.

And then, the rest of the cast is awesome too. When I’m working, I’m usually with the  stunt unit, we have a separate unit, action unit, that goes out and shoot all of the driving. So, my interaction with the cast isn’t as much as somebody who is doing the fight scene on first unit. But when I’ve been around and evolving wonderful.

You used to compete at high levels of motorsport and bikes, and riding. Now that you made a secondary career at film, where do you get the most enjoyment out of, is it the team that is competing, or do you like the stunts?

I like the stunts. Competing takes so much training and pressure, you know there’s a lot of pressure and competition for long periods of time. So your focus have to be there for an entire day, with the type of {often grinding} that I was doing in trials. So I’m glad that I’m not doing that part anymore. It’s now just for fun, or go ride some vintage motorcycle, classic motorcycle, things like that, it’s just fun. But at the high level that I was doing it and the world, against the man and everything. I’m kinda glad to have that in the past. Certainly glad that I did it. But I love my stunt driving and my stunt work in general. That’s pretty much it.

Motorcycle skills that on the level when you are driving on your own, do you think of doing anything wild in the streets?

There are times that I want to but I know that usually I’m the one that gets caught. So I don’t do anything [Laughter] out of line most of the time.

Do you particularly have a favorite stunt that you’ve worked on during the Fate of the Furious? Or any of the franchise?

Yes I do. On the first, when I was doubling Michelle in the black Honda Civic, and drove the car beneath the semi-truck, and then flipped it off the side of the road with the daytime shot. That won me two Taurus World Stunt Awards. One for Best Driving, guys or girls, and one for Best Stunt by a Stuntwoman. That’s probably my favorite stunt that I got to do in the Fast and the Furious movies.

You’ve worked on some pretty amazing films and got to do some, sort of, excellent carwork. Do you have any favorites with those?

Yeah. On Fate of the Furious, I got to drive that red Corvette, the Stingray. That was a pretty iconic car. And it sounded so good. It was like music to my ears. It was a challenge to drive in some cases, but it was just a cool car. I’ve got to drive the Enzo Ferrari, drive the heck out of it. Which is a pretty amazing experience. I’ve liked the F-Type Jag (Jaguar), because as a new car, you can disable certain things and make it work really well. It’s a very comfortable car.

What’s been your favorite car to drive?

My favorite all-time car?

I have to say the Enzo (Ferrari). Because how many people get to drive it in, so I drive it hard. That’s pretty cool.

What’s another of your favorite stunt like sort of serious, that you sort of appreciate, you know the intensity of how hard it is to shoot or do it? What’s something that you see or something that you admire on a movie, that you think is epic?

The Matrix Reloaded.

That was the one you got to worked on, 2, (Matrix Series)?

Yes, Matrix 2, yeah. It was an amazing sequence. I did the driving of the Cadillac CTS and then riding the Ducati 996. Against traffic and with traffic, it was a pretty amazing sequence. I’m so glad to be a part of that.


Do you think you’ll keep doing this for a while?

Yeah. I still enjoy it, I still got my reflexes and I’m still able to do so much. I can’t see me quitting anytime soon. Because I just still love it with all my heart. So-

And pretty good with it too.

That’s what they say. I have seven Taurus World Stunt Awards for my work and it’s mostly to driving.

What advice would you give to drivers, things that could prevent things or crashes from getting out of control?

The thing is, when you’re driving on the road, you just have to be aware of your surroundings at all times. You need to know what’s behind you, what’s beside you. You need not to be looking at your cellphone or looking to the person next to you. You need to focus on what you’re doing. So many people take it for granted. That they don’t realize that cars are lethal weapons and can cause a lot of damage. I think that having that knowledge and not doing any other things, you know. Not pushing things when you’re out on the road with people who don’t know what you’re gonna do next.

Cool. Thanks for that. It was nice to chat with you.

Oh, one other car. I drove the Viper. It has computer stuff on it and it got raw horsepower on it. It’s really really fun.

So that would be number 2?


Fate of the Furious, available this week digitally and on Blu-ray and DVD.

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