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10 Unlikely Action Leads That Blew Audiences Away With Their Performance

The summer blockbuster season is upon audiences and from Benedict Cumberbatch to Charlize Theron, there are plenty of actors demonstrating their action talents, who might have otherwise been underestimated. Across cinema history, that’s quite a common occurrence, with performances putting the audience’s doubts to rest.

These actors likely established themselves in comedy, sitcom, drama, or romance roles and thus were deemed unable to move into the realm of the action blockbuster. Yet, in every case, they have proven those opinions completely wrong and are now held up as icons of the genre, or at the very least, actors who really can do anything.

Keanu Reeves
John Wick 3 Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves is usually seen as one of the best action stars of the modern age. The Matrix truly helped to define him in that position, but John Wick has only further established the actor’s talents when it comes to mastering complex choreography and adding genuine emotional depth to a blockbuster role.

RELATED: 10 Action Movies Turning 10 In 2022

Keanu Reeves shot to fame thanks to the success of Bill And Ted. He was largely seen as a comedic actor; goofy and certainly not a serious lead in any capacity. He managed to completely shift that perception and while he continues to take on hilarious parts, he doesn’t shy away from grit and drama as well.

Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk in Nobody

Bob Odenkirk’s Nobody has established the actor in a new light. It very much feels in the style of a John Wick, although combines gritty realism with a little bit of Hollywood edge. Ultimately it’s a fantastic flick with Odenkirk transforming himself for the part and embodying physicality audiences hadn’t seen from him.

Odenkirk’s comedic work already speaks for itself, but his time as the slightly cowardly con-man, Saul Goodman, in the Breaking Bad universe, really led to him being typecasted. Nobody would have thought that Odenkirk had this kind of skill set in his arsenal, but he’s proven those doubters wrong.

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren in Red 2

Helen Mirren has leaped into every genre, picking up plenty of awards along the way. From Shakespearean plays to portraying the Queen, Mirren has done it all. There’s one aspect of her career that people wouldn’t have ever thought would surface; a set of action roles. But Mirren has somehow established herself in that realm as well.

She’s even part of major franchises like The Fast And The Furious, because of her ability to shift into any character. It’s RED and RED 2 that probably demonstrated that despite what may be perceived about her, Helen Mirren is entirely capable of launching into successful action series, taking on everything expected of her and more.

Ryan Reynolds
Deadpool and Colossus movie featured

Ryan Reynolds is a major face in the blockbuster industry. His time as Green Lantern catapulted his potential even if the film itself wasn’t well received. After a few missteps, he is now in his element, from portraying Deadpool, to fast-past flicks like Red Notice, Free Guy, and The Adam Project. 

RELATED: 10 Best Intelligent Action Movies, According To Ranker

Reynolds has found his niche in the action genre and has the filmography to prove it. But movies like The Proposal demonstrate why no one would have thought he had it in him. He was the goofy romantic lead, an American Hugh Grant for instance. Grant never found his way into action flicks but Reynolds did and thrives.

Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway as Catwoman speaking with Batman on a rooftop in The Dark Knight Rises

Anne Hathaway’s turn as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises was an action-star-making performance in a way that many who have crossed the Batman franchise have experienced. Her time in the genre is limited, but each time she moves into it, she demonstrates just how perfect the role she is.

Hathaway’s career has spanned many territories. Chick flicks like The Devil Wears Prada or even musicals like Les Misérables are examples of her range. No one would have thought that stunt choreography would be added to that list, but Hathaway has a future in that position if she’s looking for those roles.

Michael Cera
Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Romona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Michael Cera doesn’t give off the presence of an action star. The unassuming character has taken advantage of his vibe and has portrayed all kinds of hilarious, slightly awkward, personalities. Arrested Development is a perfect instance of what Cera’s preferred roles are all about.

His casting in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was completely inspired. Not only did he match the hero fans had seen on the page, but he embraced the action elements and thrived in that position. He’s not a typical leading man but should be given the opportunity far more often.

Colin Firth
Colin Firth and Taron Egerton in Kingsman

Kingsman helped, in part, to redefine what action could be within the spy and espionage genre. It involved bizarre comic book elements and wacky humor with genuinely hard-hitting sequences to create a beloved hit. Colin Firth wasn’t the typical choice to star in that kind of picture.

RELATED: 10 Best Action Movies On Netflix, According To IMDb

Firth has largely spent his time as a war general or a slightly awkward, yet charming love interest. There are of course plenty of exceptions including The King’s Speech, but dramas and romcoms are all over his filmography. Kingsman is so outside of Firth’s traditional path and yet he is perhaps one of the most celebrated aspects of the hit.

Will Smith
Will Smith as Steven Hiller in Independence Day

Will Smith is a massive action star. Suicide Squad, Men In Black, and Bad Boys are just a couple of examples of just how many classics and culturally significant pictures the actor has produced. But The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air followed the rapper around for years.

Smith portrayed a largely goofy and comedy-driven character. His position in the likes of Independence Day and as Agent J helped to change the perception audiences had of Smith. He can still jump into comedy roles, but he has the seriousness needed to be a leading man in a high-stakes action piece.

Tobey Maguire
Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man No Way Home

Tobey Maguire takes on genuinely intriguing roles. His filmography has been a little sparse recently as the actor is taking a break from the industry. However, drama and comedy are very much in Maguire’s wheelhouse; perhaps that’s why he’s such a good Peter Parker.

Maguire was absolutely an outside choice as a casting for Spider-Man. Indeed, there were plenty of well-known action names that might have been chosen in other scenarios, but it’s clear that Maguire broke any expectations and has become one of the most well-respected webheads of all time.

Scarlet Johansson
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in 2012's Avengers

Scarlett Johansson started life on screen at a relatively young age. The roles she took on were varied but hadn’t crossed into the action territory much. Pictures like The Prestige and We Bought A Zoo largely played into the image of Johansson’s regular parts.

But her time as Black Widow has cemented her as an action icon. She has appeared across the Marvel Universe in numerous movies and this has allowed her to try several other solo projects, like Lucy and Ghost In The Shell where she continues to take advantage of her complex range of abilities.

NEXT: 10 Underrated Action Movies Of The 2010s (Ranked By IMDb)

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The 69-Year Story Behind The Fast And Furious Name


The Fast & Furious franchise started with the 2001 movie The Fast and the Furious and went through several major changes in its sequel titles. The title for the original movie was almost different, with options like Race Wars, but the producer fought for The Fast and the Furious.

As the Fast & Furious series has one of the most recognizable franchise names in cinema, some may be curious as to where its origin came from. The multi-billion-dollar franchise started with 2001’s straightforward street racing movie, The Fast and the Furious, but following that, the series went through several major changes, and that was mirrored in the Fast & Furious sequel movie titles. 2 Fast 2 Furious introduced numbered titles, then The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift immediately dropped that format. The fourquel confused things further with the title Fast & Furious, and it only got more confusing from there. However, every title is still a play on the original 2001 title.

The Fast and the Furious came to fruition following a Vibe magazine article called “Racer X”. Universal had the incredible foresight of seeing how popular street racing would become in the 2000s, and the studio quickly grabbed the movie rights to the article. However, while the movie was originally titled after the article, the studio wasn’t totally satisfied with that name, and many other titles, including Race Wars, were considered. The movie even went into production under the title Redline, but producer Neal Moritz had his mind set on one title that seemed unachievable to get; The Fast and the Furious.

RELATED: Fast & Furious Movies In Order – How (& Where) To Watch By Release Date & Chronologically

The Fast And The Furious Is Named After A 1954 Movie
Dom and Brian sitting on a car with their friends in The Fast and the Furious

Another movie titled The Fast and the Furious already existed, and it was released almost half a century before the 2001 street racing film was released. 1954’s The Fast and the Furious, written by Roger Corman, has nothing to do with street racing as it exists today. The movie follows a prison escapee who kidnaps a rich woman and steals her Jaguar, then ends up in an epic road race that ends in Mexico. While the title perfectly fits the 1954 film, Moritz was desperate to use the title for his own movie that he was producing, having learned about it after seeing a Roger Corman documentary (via Entertainment Weekly).

Moritz detailed how Universal didn’t seem to be completely on board at first. The producer explained, “I called up the head of marketing at Universal the next morning and said ‘Okay, I’ve got the title: The Fast and the Furious!’ And there was just silence on the other end. I was like, ‘Oh, I guess that is the worst title he’s ever heard.’ However, after mulling it over, Universal agreed, and it worked out perfectly, as the whole world now knows that name and it’s synonymous with the Vin Diesel-led franchise. Movie titles are extremely important, and it’s less likely that the movie would have become a billion-dollar franchise if it was titled Race Wars.

Paul Walker smiles in Dom's garage in The Fast and the Furious

Moritz revealed, “we made a deal with Roger to give him the use of some stock footage that Universal owned.” It isn’t clear if Corman ever benefited financially from that footage. In hindsight, he undoubtedly got a terrible deal. The Fast & Furious name is extremely important to the franchise and has made Universal billions. The name has even been used for spinoffs, and Fast & Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw wouldn’t have made $760 million without the name attached to it. However, there was no knowing how huge the franchise became. After all, The Fast and the Furious was originally just a scrappy crime movie based on a magazine article.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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Fast X Video Reveals BTS Of Real, Practical Fights In OTT Sequel


The Fast X fight between Letty and Cipher was filmed using practical effects, resulting in a well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat sequence full of emotions. Cipher’s decision to team up with Dom and “La Familia” was out of necessity, but spending time with Letty after escaping prison could lead to her becoming a member of the family. Cipher’s unexplored history with Giselle and her association with Letty could help in mellowing down the former villain and potentially setting up a redemption arc or even a Cipher spin-off.

A new Fast X behind-the-scenes video shows how Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Cipher’s (Charlize Theron) intense fight scene was filmed. Dom and his “La Familia” returned on the big screen in 2023 for the tenth main installment of The Fast Saga. In a major twist, however, instead of butting heads again with Cipher, the primary villain of the franchise for several recent entries, Letty had to team up with her. That didn’t stop Letty from expressing her true feelings about her when they were both captured by the Agency.

Courtesy of Collider is a behind-the-scenes clip from Louis Leterrier’s Fast X that offers a look at how Cipher and Letty’s one-on-one fight scene was filmed. Check out the video below:

The Fast X fight is arguably one of the best choreographed hand-to-hand combat in The Fast Saga, and it’s all because they filmed it with practical effects. The result, coupled with the history between the pair, is an effective action sequence full of emotions.

How Cipher & Letty’s Relationship Evolves In Fast & Furious 11
Cipher wearing a coat in Fast X

Granted that Cipher’s decision to team up with Dom and “La Familia” came from necessity after she was targeted by Jason Momoa’s Dante, spending more time with Letty after escaping prison can lead to her becoming a proper member of “La Familia.” There’s precedent to this, with a few of the recent The Fast Saga villains ending up being redeemed and joining Dom and his crew. This has been the case with Deckard Shaw (despite his attempted murder of Han Lue), and more recently, John Cena’s Jakob, who sacrificed himself in Fast X to save Little B.

Increasing the chances of this happening is Cipher’s unexplored history with Giselle. After she and Letty finally escaped the Agency’s bunk prison, they found themselves in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, Giselle came to the rescue after Cipher notified her of their escape plan. There has never been any indication that Cipher and Giselle know each other before the massive Fast X twist. Making this more surprising is that Giselle has been believed to be dead for several years now. Her association with Giselle could help Letty mellow down on the former villain when they all return for Fast and Furious 11.

RELATED: Fast X Cliffhanger Ending Explained

Perhaps, this unexpected turn could be a set-up for the in-development Cipher spin-off. Specific plot details about the project are currently scant, with Universal still not announcing a tentative release date. Nevertheless, the events of Fast X could be the start of her redemption arc, with her relationship with Letty functioning as a barometer of whether viewers can finally forgive her for all of her transgressions.

Source: Collider

Key Release Dates Fast and Furious 11 temp poster

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10 Characters Who Should Be In It


Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty is the franchise’s biggest female character and the obvious pick to lead the all-female spinoff. Jordana Brewster’s Mia deserves a big role in the spinoff to expand on her character and showcase her growth. Brie Larson’s Tess is needed in the spinoff to explore the mystery surrounding her character and add her engaging screen presence to the team.

The Fast & Furious saga is meant to continue with an all-female-led movie, and casting the returning characters presents exciting options. An all-female spinoff could be the perfect way to continue the Fast &Furious story, as it will be able to retain the elements of the franchise that make it iconic while offering a new perspective. From the beginning, the franchise has been very male-dominated, and told male-centric stories, so offering the high-octane thrills of a Fast & Furious movie from a female perspective could be a welcome change of pace.

The series is known for having an all-star cast, so any female spinoff will have to match the previous films. Thankfully, the franchise already has several incredible female movie stars. Fast X, the latest film in the franchise, introduced and reintroduced some exciting female characters, setting the groundwork for the upcoming Fast & Furious movie. Obviously, whatever happens in the next film will determine who will be on the team and what side they will fight for. The franchise already has a healthy supply of female characters, both good and evil, who can factor into a Fast & Furious female spinoff.


Related Fast X Proves How Great A Fast & Furious Female Spinoff Would Be The idea of an all-female spinoff is more exciting than Fast & Furious 11, with Fast X providing the blueprint for just how well it could work.

10 Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty Can Lead The Fast Spinoff Ensemble
She’s the franchise’s biggest female character

Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty has been a key member of the Fast family since the first movie, and no female spinoff would feel right without her leading the team. Dominic Toretto’s wife is one of the fastest drivers in the world. Letty has made her way from street racer to international woman of mystery, becoming one of the franchise’s best characters in the process. Rodriguez is an incredibly engaging screen presence thanks to her charisma and action pedigree. An all-female action movie is right in her wheelhouse, making her the obvious pick for the lead in the movie.

9 Jordana Brewster’s Mia Deserves A Big Role
The Toretto family member has been sidelined recently

Another extension of the Toretto family tree, Jordana Brewster’s Mia is Dom’s brother and the wife of Paul Walker’s Brian. Since Walker’s tragic death, as well as the introduction of countless new characters, Mia has been sidelined in recent films, which is a shame because she is one of the best parts of the earlier films. A spinoff with just the women could be a great time to expand on Mia’s character and see how she has grown over the past couple of years, especially now that she is the mother of two. Brewster is an underrated talent, and Mia should be heavily involved in whatever spinoff the filmmakers plan.

8 Brie Larson’s Tess Is Needed After Fast X Introduction
Mr. Nobody’s daughter has a bright future
Brie Larson as Tess firing a gun in Fast X

Fast X introduced several new faces to the franchise, but perhaps most notably was Brie Larson as Tess “Nobody”, a secret agent on a quest to protect Dom and his family. Larson had relatively little screen time in the movie, and her introduction felt like it was mostly included to set up a future spinoff. The Oscar winner is the perfect name to include in a spinoff. Larson is an incredibly engaging and vulnerable screen presence and a great addition to the team. As her family name would imply, there is still a lot of mystery about Tess that this spinoff could explore.

7 Ramsey’s Return Can Give Nathalie Emmanuel A Major Role
The hacker has a growing set of skills
Nathalie Emmanuel in Fast and Furious 7.

After her first appearance in Furious 7, Nathalie Emmanuel’s Ramsey has been the Fast team’s resident hacker and tech wiz. The Game of Thrones star has mostly been used for exposition and comic relief since joining the team, but Ramsey has a distinctive style and skill set that would make her a great addition to the female spinoff. While Mia and Letty are great drivers, Ramsey has skills in the digital realm that could help the team on whatever mission they are on. It would also be interesting to see how Ramsey functions outside the trio of her, Tej, and Roman.

Cars and an image of Vin Diesel looking surprised in the Fast & Furious franchise Related Fast & Furious Showed How To Continue The Franchise After Vin Diesel 17 Years Ago (With A Catch) Fast & Furious finds itself at a crossroads with the end nearing, and Universal should look to the franchise’s most underrated movie for inspiration.

6 Daniela Melchior’s Return As Isabel Gives The Spinoff More Legacy
Isabel is the sister of Elena
Isabel (Daniela Melchior) in a car at a street race in Fast X

For a while, Elsa Pataky’s Elena was viewed as an obvious candidate to appear in a Fast & Furious female spinoff. However, after her untimely demise in The Fate of the Furious, her younger sister can fill that void. Another new female protagonist introduced in Fast X, Daniela Melchior’s Isabel also felt like she was included mostly to set up this future spinoff. Melchior is one of the more promising young actors to pop up this decade, and her work in The Suicide Squad proves she is more than ready to have a large part in a team-up action movie.

5 Gal Gadot’s Place In The Fast Spinoff As Gisele Is Likely
Fast X confirmed Gisele is still alive

Gal Gadot made her return to Fast and Furious in the final moments of Fast X’s ending, which confirmed that Gisele is alive after Fast & Furious 6. The character’s return had been speculated for a long time, and audiences should see much more of her now that her fate is confirmed. A Fast & Furious female spinoff can answer lingering questions about Gisele’s life, such as how she survived falling from a plane or what she’s been doing for the last several years. The movie can also finally give Gisele a prominent role in the franchise once again.

4 Charlize Theron’s Cipher Could Play Both Sides In The Spinoff
The franchise’s villain is not to be trusted

In both The Fate of the Furious and F9: The Fast Saga, Charlize Theron’s Cipher served as the franchise’s primary antagonist. While Fast X puts her allegiance into question, she is still one of the best villains in all of Fast and Furious and would make an excellent baddie for the all-women team to go up against. While Cipher could be a reluctant ally to the team, Theron is just much more fun hamming it up as the bad guy, and the film could serve as a fitting conclusion to her movie-spanning scheme.

3 Eva Mendes Can Return As Monica Fuentes At Long Last
She hasn’t been seen since Fast Five
Monica Fuentes pointing a rifle in 2 Fast 2 Furious.

The Fast & Furious female spinoff would also be a great opportunity to finally bring back Eva Mendes as Monica Fuentes. Following her debut in 2 Fast 2 Furious, she returned briefly in Fast Five’s post-credits scene. Eva Mendes has since mostly retired from acting, leaving audiences without a chance to see Monica’s story continue. A Fast X Easter egg did provide a reminder of her presence in the franchise. This could be to help set up her appearance in Fast 11, but a return alongside the franchise’s biggest female characters would be more fitting.

2 Vanessa Kirby’s Hattie Needs To Crossover With The Main Franchise
She’s from the franchise’s only current spinoff
Vanessa Kirby in Fast and Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw

Only appearing in Hobbs & Shaw, Vanessa Kirby’s Hattie is the third sibling in the Shaw family and one of the most dangerous women in the Fast universe. She was a scene-stealing presence in the previous Fast & Furious spinoff movie that left audiences wanting more. It would be great to see Kirby return for an even bigger role in the franchise spinoff, allowing her to interact with some of the other prominent characters along the way.

1 Helen Mirren’s Queenie Should Be The Female Ensemble’s Mentor
She’s become a frequent face
Dom Toretto and Queenie Shaw in Fast and Furious

With her appearances in the past four movies, including Hobbs & Shaw, Helen Mirren has become a surprising mainstay of the Fast & Furious franchise. Her role as British gangster Queenie is such a fun role for the Dame, and her time in the universe should continue especially in the all-female spinoff. Mirren’s roles in the movies have mostly been one-scene cameos, so this film could be a great space to expand the character and give her a chance to interact with more actors than just Vin Diesel.

Fast X Poster Fast X Release Date: 2023-05-19 Director: Louis Leterrier Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Charlize Theron, Nathalie Emmanuel, John Cena, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, Brie Larson, Scott Eastwood, Jason Momoa Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 141 Minutes Genres: Action, Adventure, Crime Writers: Justin Lin, Dan Mazeau, Gary Scott Thompson Budget: $340 Million Studio(s): Universal Pictures Distributor(s): Universal Pictures Sequel(s): Fast and Furious 11, Fast & Furious 12 prequel(s): Fast & Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Fast And The Furious, Fast 5, Fast and Furious 6, Furious 7, Fast and Furious 8, F9: The Fast Saga1 Franchise(s): Fast and Furious

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