'Fast & Furious 9': Director Justin Lin explains how MC Hammer saved his career (exclusive)

Watch: Justin Lin talks to Yahoo about MC Hammer and the return of Han

Vin Diesel is the face of the Fast and Furious franchise, but no member of the Fast family has had as much of an impact behind the camera as Justin Lin.

The director is back at the helm for the fifth time with Fast & Furious 9, another entertaining chapter in the 20-year saga that sees him up the ante once more by expanding the mythology and giving us more of the vehicular carnage we’ve come to expect from Dom Toretto and co.

For Lin, none of it would have been possible without the help of the unlikeliest of benefactors: a rapper by the name of MC Hammer. “I don't think we'd be sitting here talking right now, if not for him”, Lin tells Yahoo Movies UK.

Read more: 'Jurassic World: Dominion' director responds to 'Fast & Furious' crossover rumours

The story goes like this: Back in 2002, Lin was directing his first solo feature Better Luck Tomorrow and he had run into some financial difficulty. His investors wanted him to change all the roles in the movie to Caucasian and he had refused, maxing out all his credit cards instead.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 03:  (L-R) Actor Vin Diesel, director Justin Lin and rapper MC Hammer attend the Hand and Footprint Ceremony for Justin Lin, Zhao Wei and Huang Xiaoming at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on June 3, 2015 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Vin Diesel, Justin Lin and MC Hammer in 2015 (David Livingston/Getty Images)

That’s when MC Hammer — whom Lin had met years before when he worked at the Japanese American Musuem — stepped in to save the movie with a $10,000 contribution. It’s not an overstatement to say that Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift might not exist without his generosity.

“I was just texting with Hammer a few months ago. He came in at the last second to save me and my film, and he’s never asked for anything. That's what makes him so special.”

A still from Fast & Furious 9 (Universal Pictures)
Sung Kang’s Han Seoul-Oh in a still from Fast & Furious 9 (Universal Pictures)

Better Luck Tomorrow was also the first film to feature Sung Kang’s Han Seoul-Oh, a character who would quickly go on to become a fan favourite in the Fast franchise before getting killed off. Or so we thought. A ‘Justice for Han’ fan campaign has led to the character’s return in F9, and Lin is thankful for the support the character has garnered. “I would give the fans 100% credit for bringing Han back. I think the way it felt like he was dismissed, needed to be corrected.”

While Han’s return is cheerworthy, he doesn’t really get much to do in F9. However, an exciting post-credit scene sets up an interesting reunion, and Lin — who is also down to direct Fast 10 and Fast 11, supposedly the final films in the franchise — teases that there’s a lot more justice coming Han’s way.

A still from Fast & Furious 9 (Universal Pictures)
Justin Lin on the set of Fast & Furious 9 (Universal Pictures)

“I felt like to do it right, it's not just one film. If you put the dots together, Fast 9 is really just a glimpse of justice for Han and what he had to go through, and what would make him disappear for all this time. Maybe one day, if we're lucky enough, we will be able to fill in that void of what it is because there is definitely a whole movie’s worth of story there.”

While we’re still in the dark on story details for the Fast franchise’s concluding films, it’s a guarantee that they will include many more insane car stunts. If the world his characters inhabit plays it fast and loose with the laws of physics, Lin’s adherence to that oft-forgotten moviemaking rule — character through action — has given us some of the saga’s best sequences. With land mines, magnet planes, and a trip into space, Fast 9 is no different.

Read more: Michelle Rodriguez teases Fast 9 space rumours

“I can't design the action until I understand the characters and what they're going through. I spent a lot of time on the phone at three in the morning talking to stunt drivers in Thailand or wherever in the world, because I need them to make sure that they're hitting that emotional beats of the characters.”

Fast and Furious 9 is playing in cinemas now.

Watch: Justin Lin on bringing back Han