Warning: This story contains spoilers from Fast X.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – The actor played Arthur Curry, a.k.a. DC Comics superhero Aquaman, on Smallville from 2005-2010, years before Fast X co-star Momoa took on the role.
After more than 20 years, the Fast & Furious saga has basically become a superhero franchise, so it’s only appropriate that two on-screen superheroes have joined “the family” in Fast X. But what are the chances that both those actors played the same superhero in the past?!
Alan Ritchson stars in Fast X as Aimes, the new head of the Agency who’s actually a double agent plotting against Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel). The final scenes reveal he’s been working off screen with villain Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) since the end of Fast Five. It’s a twist we should have seen coming from a mile away since Ritchson and Momoa have a shared history of playing DC Comics hero Aquaman. (Ritchson played him on Smallville from 2005-2010, years before Momoa first took on the role in 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.) Of course the two Aquamen would be in cahoots.
Ritchson speaks with EW about joining the Fast franchise, the alternate version of Fast X he shot that was ultimately scrapped, and whether he and Momoa talked about how they’ve both played Aquaman.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you prepare to join the Fast family?
ALAN RITCHSON: I feel like my career has prepared me for this. Life has a funny way of knowing what you’re ready for. The scariest point in my career was deciding whether or not I could take on a role like Reacher with one of the highest-selling book franchises in the world, a well-known character that had been played by the other greatest action star of all time [Tom Cruise]. There was just a lot to live up to and huge shoes to fill. Stepping into that gave me the confidence to go, “If I could make that work, then I can handle any set or any character.”
I felt confident going [into Fast X], but there’s a ton of energy that Vin’s essence brings, that Jason’s essence brings to the set, so it’s just about trusting that you’re enough. I’m now really confident in my ability to add value. The stunts are pretty similar to what I’ve been doing, although I will say, I think it set the record for the most blue screen I’ve ever shot on. Hundreds and hundreds of football fields worth of blue screen. That was a personal record.
How was Aimes first described to you when you took over the role, and how did you make the character your own?
There was a bit of an evolution after I got involved. Aimes is the Agency, and that represents a kind of old school law and order. When I came in, he was very buttoned up. They wanted him wearing suits and ties and looking and dressing like a politician. I felt like this is such a good opportunity to depart from those expectations, so I fought really hard to design a character that was more of a cosplay of who these guys could be. I wanted him to look more like a video game character than an old politician. It just felt like the right time to bring a new world order to this thing and shape who he was to this world in a more modern way.
It was all so precarious starting out. When I finally get my feet on the ground in London and I start going, “I ain’t wearing a suit and tie for this, I can tell you that much,” and they’re like, “I’m sorry, who are you? Just do what you’re told. We’ve been doing this for a long time, we know what we’re doing.” I was like, “Respectfully, I feel very strongly about this.” My team was on the phone going, “Listen, we’re behind you if this is the hill you want to die on, but just so you know, the studio’s already made the decision and you’re going to have to have some phone calls with executives and producers.” I was like, “This is worth fighting for.”
I made my way up the chain. I remember the last conversation I had. They were saying, “Explain to us your rationale for why you think you’re not going to do this,” and I did. I had this whole philosophy as to what Aimes represents and how sticking to the old guard in any sense undermines who he can be to Dom Toretto and his mission. They respected the fact that thought had gone into it, and we were able to dress him up the way that he looks in the film now. I think it worked.
The irreverent way Aimes mocks the idea of Dom’s “family” being like “a cult with cars” was something we’ve never seen before, because that’s the whole foundation of this franchise. What was that like for you, getting to act like that on set?
That was the first scene that I read when I was approached with the character, that scene with Brie [Larson] at the Agency headquarters. I just loved how irreverent it was, like you mentioned. The fact that we can take the piss out of some of the over-the-top moments of a franchise is good. It involves the audience, a little self-awareness, and it says, “We’re all in this together and we know what this is.” At the same time, it serves to make him a little more dangerous. His arguments are thought out. If you listen to that scene, it’s actually real hard to disagree with this guy. He’s got his own means to accomplish world prosperity and safety and security, and Dom’s methods aren’t working, so we should rein that in. I mean, it’s really hard to argue with his criticisms of Toretto’s world. Nobody will insure these people, that is for sure. There’s a lot of collateral damage there.
Did you have any conversations with Vin or the other cast members about how you’re making fun of their family through the whole movie?
[Laughs] No, I think nobody understands the mythology of the Fast universe better than Vin. Aimes was really a product of [former Fast director] Justin [Lin]’s imagination, and Vin is a huge supporter of what Aimes is doing. You don’t want a universe where everybody feels so invincible, and to have multidimensional characters whose allegiances you’re unsure of or whose purpose is to work against the Torettos, he knows that makes a better movie.
Did you know that Aimes was working with Dante from the very beginning?
I don’t know if this is divulging too much, but we shot a couple different stories. One was that Jason Momoa’s character and Aimes were blood brothers. They were actually related, and one of the reasons why they were unified was because of their genetic link. There is a version in the editing room of that film, but at the end of the day it was decided that the other version which is what’s in the film now — we learn at the end of the movie that really surprising twist that there was an alliance between them the whole time making him maybe the bad guy — that’s what we’re left with. I wasn’t really sure which version of that was going to live, but I did know that there was a lot of duplicity in the character and that he was ultimately a bad guy, at least for now. We’ll see what the future holds.
How did that influence the way you played him before that twist is revealed?
Villainy isn’t necessarily a behavior as much as it is the kinds of ideals that we fight for. To me, it was all about being able to believe what he was fighting for. It all made a ton of sense. Whether or not somebody thinks that it’s villainous, that he would go capture and kill these people, that’s for them to decide. I can get behind his reasoning. His methods don’t matter to me as much as his principles, and they made sense enough to me to make me feel like he was a good guy. So I played him as such.
You may think he’s a good guy, but are you prepared for the hate you’ll get for potentially killing Han, Ramsey, Tej, and Roman?
[Laughs] It was amazing how quick that happened. I walked into the premiere and everybody’s like, “Oh my gosh, Reacher! We love you. We can’t wait to see you as Aimes.” I walked out and a little old lady was like, “How could you?!” Wait a minute. I’m still the same guy. A few people after the premiere come up and were like, “I liked you so much until… ” But hey, all press is good press. You can hate all you want, but as long as you’re talking about the film, I’m happy.
Does this mean you’re going to play a major role in Fast X Part 2 as a villain?
It certainly looks that way. I hope. There have been a lot of conversations. I’m amped to play the bad guy and put the gas to the floor. Let’s see him try and succeed at what he wants to do. You can decide if he’s bad or not, but, yeah, I’m ready.
Did you and Jason talk on set about how you’ve both played Aquaman?
No, we didn’t. It didn’t really come up. Working with him was great. He’s just a force of nature. He’s like the top down on the convertible, the hair in the wind, screeching up to a stop, walking out with a bass guitar in one hand, just a complete free spirit in every sense. I’m the opposite. I want to make sure that all my ducks are in a row, that I’m in control here. It’s a lot of fun hanging out with him. His character really makes this movie in a big way. But no, we didn’t really delve into the Aquaman history much.
That’s shocking. Comic book fans are going to get such a kick out of seeing you both act together in this.
Yeah, I know. I would say it’s more like he played Aquaman. I think I played/look more like Aqualad. I was still in the orange Speedo, and he got the grown-up version. I’m sure [fans] will enjoy that.