As “Furious 7” races to box office records, the next series from the Fast and Furious Franchise, director John Singleton reveals to GrantLand.com how Ja Rule walked away from reprising his role as Edwin in 2003’s “2 Fast 2 Furious“, which inadvertently helped to launch Ludacris’ acting career. Ja Rule and Paul Walker in Fast and Furious:
“Ja got too big for himself. He turned it down. He turned down a half a million dollars,” Singleton said. “He got 15 grand to be in the first movie. He was really big at that time. I guess Murder Inc. was throwing out hits and were making money hand over foot. He was acting like he was too big to be in the sequel. He wouldn’t return calls. I went to the studio to go see him — that’s just my mantra, I deal with a lot of music people. He was kinda playing me to the side and I was like, ‘What? What is this shit?’ This was all initiated by me. I then made a call. I called Ludacris. I said, ‘Hey, Luda, I haven’t met you before, but I like what you’re doing right now.’ Luda was all humble, excited to meet me. I said, ‘I’m doing this movie and I’m wondering if you want to be a part of it.’ He goes, ‘What? Yeah! Anything you do I want to be a part of.’ That’s how Ludacris got in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and the rest is history.”
Ja Rule became Ludacris. Edwin became Tej. The Fast and the Furious went from potential franchise to the 16th-highest-grossing franchise in history.
Ludacris would go on to appear in Crash and Hustle & Flow — and three more Fast & Furious films.
“Ja Rule not doing 2 Fast 2 Furious changed Ludacris’s life,” Singleton said. “Years later I saw Ja Rule at the Source Awards and we joked about it. I took him under my arm and said, ‘Man, when I call you, you listen. I ain’t calling you for no bullshit.’ He said, ‘Yeah, man, I’m sorry about that.’ He apologized. I love Ja. I still think Ja has a lot of personality and can come back in a different way.”