Jack Tyson is a young man partaking in an illegal Mexico to California car race when a desperate woman, fleeing from her abusive gangster boyfriend who is financing the tournament, jumps into his car pleading for his help and who has an incriminating USB drive that could send her thug boyfriend, among others, to prison.
We speak exclusively to actor Michael DeVorzon, star of Fast and Fierce : Death Race!
How would you yourself describe FAST AND FIERCE : DEATH RACE?
It’s an action movie centered around a high stakes illegal street race where everything is on the line.
And your character, where does he fit?
He’s an ex-street racing champion who retired after tragedy struck during a race. He gets pulled back into this race in an attempt to save his brother from being killed by a gangster over a large gambling debt. Along the way, the gangsters ex-girlfriend suddenly jumps in his car pleading for help adding fuel to the fire putting them both in dangers way.
Anything you had to brush up on – i.e car jargon, stunt driving – before filming?
I was driving stick shift by age 12 and got a chance to drive some high end sports cars by age 16 so I always felt very comfortable driving any car. I’ve done a handful of car commercials including one for Porsche where I did most of the precision driving. I remember days before the shoot, the director was asking me about my driving skills and I just told him I can drive. He looked at me funny because you know, sometimes actors will say they know how to perform heart surgery to get a job! We were shooting in the mountains of San Francisco and they first tested me by seeing how fast I could go around a hair pin turn. I hit that turn going so fast, I blew by the police blockade. I ended up doing a lot of cool stuff on that shoot including chasing a Russian Arm camera crew at high speeds through the hills, timing patterns with a stunt helicopter and some wonderful straight aways hitting over 100mph with the camera on the road.
How did you decide how to play your character? Being a an action film, it must be hard for an actor not to play it too over-the-top and keep it as grounded as possible?
I just tried to stay in the moment, listen and let authentic reactions come out. There were times where I had to hit the pedal on the urgency and stakes but I always try my best to keep a performance grounded.
How did you get along with DMX? Did you develop a close bond while filming?
DMX is a legend with a massive on and off stage personality so I wasn’t sure what to expect but he was very down to earth and humble. A pro who showed up to do his job. I really enjoyed working with him. The speedy schedule did not allow for as much bonding as I would have liked. I would have loved to sat down with him and discussed life and music.
Did you sympathize with your character?
Definitely. I have two younger brothers who I would give my life for. I also lived my life on the edge for many years and have had my fair share of pain, loss and regret so I tried to use all that for the character.
A lot of the film takes place on the track by looks. Where did you shoot?
We filmed in at a number of locations in Van Nuys, Downtown LA, Sun Valley, Castaic and Apple Valley.
Was this a physically and emotionally demanding role for you? How did you come down at the end of a hard day?
It was a somewhat demanding role as we had so much work to do and we had to be incredibly efficient to make our shoot days. I had to be prepared and flexible because we didn’t have much time and things could sometimes change suddenly. Emotionally, there was a lot of high stakes action as well as certain scenes where I had to lean into the inner pain of the character and in doing so touch on my own pain. Demanding in the sense of having to go there and get there quickly but I find the emotional stuff very cathartic. I was usually pretty pumped after shooting but I would always come home and wind down with a 10 minute headstand and some pranayama breathing. I would also do that first thing in the morning.
Tell us where we can see the movie!
It comes out May 19th on iTunes