Jason Statham credits 'unsung hero' Drew Pearce for saving 'Hobbs & Shaw' script (exclusive)

Hanna Flint

Chris Morgan has been writing the Fast & Furious movies since he and Justin Lin teamed up for Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift but for the first Fast spin-off Hobbs & Shaw, screenwriter Drew Pearce was brought in to spruce up the narrative.

Pearce is credited for co-writing Iron Man 3 and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, as well as penning his own film Hotel Artemis, so he’s no stranger to the action genre.

However, Jason Statham credits the British filmmaker for making everything about his character, Deckard Shaw, great.

“Dave [Leitch, Hobbs & Shaw director] had a relationship with him and I was very fortunate enough to hit it off with Drew,” Statham says. “He literally wrote 98% of everything I said in this movie.

“He was also responsible for the great backstory. My story with Brixton was very, very thin when we got early scripts - there was almost no teeth in it whatsoever - and Drew came in and put some real gasoline in there and made it really great.

Drew Pearce arrives at the Premiere Of Universal Pictures' "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw". (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

“Same with my sister [in the film played by Vanessa Kirby],” the actor continues.

“I mean he's pretty much the unsung hero as far as I'm concerned for the great dialogue, for the great backstory, for the great plot and the great dynamic I have with both of the key characters in this.”

Read more: Jason Statham wants Guy Ritchie for Hobbs & Shaw 2

Director David Leitch says that the writers brought different flavours to the script.

“Yeah, it was funny, there's sort of two sides to a coin,” Leitch says. “There is a Chris Morgan side, the pure side, the Fast side and then there's a Hobbs and Shaw side.

“I think the mix of all those creative elements sort of helped.”

Idris Elba, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Kirby and Jason Statham attend the "Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw" Special Screening in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

The Deadpool 2 director had been involved with the spin-off “early on” with his producer wife Kelly McCormick and explained that he wanted to bring a Lethal Weapon element to the story.

“The reason I was drawn to the franchise was the two characters Hobbs and Shaw,” he explains. “Their ability to own their sort of dynamic and working together was always sort of fun, and a throwback to the 80s sort of buddy cop movies like Lethal Weapon, so I wanted to make sure that we embraced that and went forward with that.

Read more: Hobbs & Shaw director breaks down London chase scene

“Kelly and Chris Morgan had sort of figured out a way to get the script to me, and then Kelly and I had a conversation about it, because we work closely together,” Leitch continued.

Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), and Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) team up and face off in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, directed by David Leitch. (Credit: Universal)

“We saw the way in and that it was about adding those things that I was seeing; I wanted to lean into the buddy cop thing more and I had different ideas about set pieces, the world and the villain so we started to attack the script with Chris Morgan and then eventually with Drew Pearce as well.”

Vanessa Kirby, who plays Deckard Shaw’s spy sister Hattie says she had conversations with Leitch early on to work out how to ensure her character could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these alpha males.

“I knew that [David] wanted to do something really different when we first started talking,” she says, “the conversations were all about how we create a female in such a male genre.

“How do we create a female presence who is as capable, as much of a fighter does all her own stunts, her fights, isn't saved by them? [These are] really important things in a message you are sending out.”

Fast & Furious: Presents Hobbs & Shaw is released in cinemas from 1 August.