Tyler Posey Interview – Fast & Furious: Spy Racers
The universe of The Fast and the Furious is steadily expanding. First, the franchise got a cinematic spin-off in the form of Hobbs & Shaw. A new video game, Fast & Furious: Crossroads, is set to come out next summer, but first, there’s a new animated TV series debuting on Netflix.
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers is a family-friendly cartoon spin-off of the films, starring Tyler Posey as Tony Toretto (young cousin of Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto character). Tony and his friends are recruited by the government to infiltrate a criminal syndicate disguised as a racing league. Action, adventure, comedy, and morality lessons ensue.
While promoting Fast & Furious: Spy Racers, Tyler Posey spoke with Screen Rant about his work on the series. He discusses the joy of getting to play in the sandbox built by Vin Diesel back in 2001 while putting his own mark on this vastly different take on the series. He talks about how his own upbringing influenced his take on the character, and remarks on the challenges and rewards of voiceover acting.
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers premieres December 26 on Netflix.
You’re an English-speaking Latino like myself, and I think that type of mixed cultural identity fits in so well with the world of Fast & Furious.
I get you! We don’t adhere to the stereotypes.
Toretto is some kind of mix of every culture imaginable, like Vin Diesel himself. Did you feel like you had any of your personal story intertwining with your character?
Yes, definitely. Ethnicity-wise, for sure. He’s such a mutt. And I’m a mutt, too. Like you, my dad’s white, my mom’s Mexican. And I think there’s a lot of other stuff in there, too. We have that look, me and my brothers. I did relate with Tony Toretto in that way, and I thought that was really cool. He’s not a stereotype, just like how I’m not a stereotypical Mexican. That was cool.
That’s great. My mom’s Honduran, and my dad’s white. Anyway, when I was checking out the show, it made me nostalgic; like, every action movie from the 80s and 90s had a Saturday Morning Cartoon adaptation, and this is kinda sorta the modern day equivalent.
That’s cool, dude, I love that!
Did you watch any of those shows when you were a kid?
Sure! I remember Starship Troopers. That was an alien bug creepy movie, but they had a cartoon of it on Saturday mornings, and I loved it! This is totally… I think, in this case, Spy Racers does a better job than any of those cartoons of transitioning into a kids’ family-friendly show. It’s a pretty intense movie and franchise, but on the little screen, for our cartoon version, it’s still super intense, but it’s perfectly combined with these awesome, like, life lessons and funny moments. It’s super family friendly. That’s one thing where I think we have a leg up on over those other cartoons that we grew up on.
And it’s got creative input from people like Neal Moritz and Chris Morgan and people like that who worked on the movies.
Did you get to work with anyone from that movie side of the franchise?
I didn’t. I met Vin at our premiere. He was the sweetest person. It was the most adorable interaction I’ve ever had. He was so cool and so supportive and just so stoked about the project. One thing he brought to the whole franchise is this family vibe that they have. It’s really a big part of the show and its storylines, but the crew and the actors, and everyone who worked on the movies, there’s a really strong connection and family vibe, that he created. I’d always heard about it, because it’s ingrained in the Fast & Furious mantra, but I didn’t really know. But it held true. He’s such a sweet person. So supportive. He’ll do anything for his family, the family that he chose. It was really cool, and I can see how the franchise has stayed so successful for so long, because of him and the attitude he brings to the whole franchise, this family thing. I think we do a really good job of capturing that in the cartoon. It was really cool, to see his reaction to it all.
It’s a really big year for Fast & Furious. First they had the movie spin-off, now the show, then there’s a video game coming next year. It’s a global takeover! Alright, I’ve gotta ask, what’s the method, the technique, or voice-acting a high octane car chase, where you have to scream and be excited while in a VO booth?
(Laughs) Dude, it’s crazy. Sometimes we go pretty early, around 9:00 AM. It’s kinda cold, so I’ll have a sweater on, but three minutes into the session, if there’s a car chase, I’m like, completely naked, because I’m sweating so much from putting so much energy into the chase or the fight scene, or whatever we’ve got going on! It’s really fun, man! But sometimes, I’m sweating and out of breath and dry heaving by the end of the session. It’s so much fun. I love it.
You have to get physical in the booth to get some of the performance out, so how many times did the director yell at you for bumping into the microphone?
I’m kinda good at not bumping into the microphone! But there’s a lot you have to think about that you wouldn’t normally think about when you’re acting in front of a camera. When I first got started with voice acting, it was hard to convey all the emotion that went into my face and my eyes and my physical mannerisms, putting that just into my voice. I found, if I were more animated with my movements, physically, kind of like theater, where you’re pushing to the back row so they can see you… You’re just way more animated, which is really cool. It’s one thing I didn’t really know going into it. It’s just so much fun! It’s so much fun! Geez. It’s like my workout! In every single episode, there’s some crazy stuff going on.
Oh yeah, definite Star Wars: The Clone Wars vibes. That’s the bar, and I feel like the show is really on that level.
Did you have a visual idea of your character? Were there any finished animations for you to see before you started recording?
I don’t remember… Sometimes, productions will have a rough version of your character, but I don’t think that I saw one before I started recording for this.I don’t think any of us really knew what the animation was going to look like. There’s so many different styles of animation, and we weren’t sure what it was going to look like. But when we saw the first rough cut, we were freaking out. We were like, “No way, what?!” But it made sense, because Fast & Furious is the coolest thing ever, so of course this cartoon is going to be equally cool! But yeah, we didn’t have many references, but I still love my character. (Laughs) He’s a cool guy.
Since you didn’t have the references to begin with, do you know if any of your performance influenced the design and animation of the character afterwards?
I always wonder that! Sometimes, the characters do come out sort of like you, a little bit, sort of resembling you in some ways. I think, maybe. I don’t know for sure, but there are some similarities, physically, between Tony and I, in our mannerisms. Maybe I inspired the team a little bit, I don’t know. He definitely inspired me. He’s got cool style, he’s a cool dude, I’m trying to be like him every day.
This show is a combination of the spy adventures of Furious Seven, but also with the really grounded characters from that original movie. It’s a cool combination which is perfect for this take on the franchise. Was there anything you drew from the movies, like, Vin Diesel’s performances across the series, to shape the character, or did you go totally your own way with it?
Definitely both. I feel like the movie has such strong values that I definitely want to take influence from Vin wherever I could. But at the same time, this is a completely different project, it’s meant for kids, so there’s a lot of elements in Spy Racers where I got to bump up the family friendly stuff. I think a lot of that was our way of separating ourselves from the intensity of the original franchise. But there are a lot of homages that we pay to the movies, and there’s a really funny moment where I’m mocking Dom, and I imitate his voice. It didn’t say to do that in the script, and I didn’t know I was going to do it until I did it, but it cracked me up, and everybody up, so I was proud of that! It was pretty funny.
Do you have an over/under on whether or not you’ll pop up in Fast 10, maybe bring the animation world into live action?
Oh, dude, my God… They can put me in Fast 25 and I’ll be stoked. I’d love to be in any one of these. When I got this role, I didn’t take it as, “Okay, here’s my introduction to the movie world!” I’m very happy and honored and humbled to be right where I am. But… Hell yeah, I’d be down to blow up some real cars in real life! It’d be so much fun. You know, in a safe way, with family.
Tyrese will take care of you!
Absolutely. He totally would! I love that guy!
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers premieres December 26 on Netflix.