8. Rodriguez also wasn’t thrilled with the initial role of Letty Ortiz, which had her as more of a one-note sexy Latina girlfriend and involved a love triangle between her, Dom and Brian.
“It was a reality check for them to realize that the streets don’t work like that,” Rodriguez told EW for a 2021 oral history of the film. “You don’t just get with a guy because he’s hot. There’s a hierarchy there. Can that hot guy get beat up by who you’re dating? If he can, then you don’t date him, because why would you want to lose the hierarchy? In order to keep it real, I had to school them: ‘I know you guys like Hollywood and all that, but if you want it to be realistic, this is how it really works, and I’m not going to be a slut in front of millions of people, so you’re going to lose me if you don’t change this.’ And they figured it out.”
As Brewster recalled it appreciatively, “When Michelle read her role, she was like, ‘No, I’m not playing that.’ And then she changed it completely. It went from a trophy girlfriend to this really layered character.”
Walker told E! News of his co-star, who was appearing in only her second movie ever after her breakout in Girlfight, “Michelle Rodriguez probably plays one of the toughest characters you’ve ever seen in a movie. From knocking out a guy to some of those driving sequences, she’s just a tough, really cool character.”
Reflecting on the input she’d had in the franchise over the years, Rodriguez told Entertainment Weekly in 2017, “At the end of the day, the only leverage I have as an individual is my participation. That’s the only leverage I ever use with anything. It’s like, look, this doesn’t agree with my ethics, morals. My heart doesn’t feel right doing this in front of millions of people, so I can always oblige myself and depart because money, to me, isn’t as important as my lines that you’re not allowed to cross.”