Rapper-turned-actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges has been an important part of the Fast & Furious saga ever since he joined the franchise in 2 Fast 2 Furious, in the role of Tej Parker. It is difficult to imagine any other actor playing the role of the wise-cracking Tej. But in a recent interview with EW, Ludacris revealed that the part had originally been offered to Ja Rule, and he had to audition for the role in a hurry while on tour with Eminem after Ja Rule dropped out of the project.
“I was on tour with Eminem and I got the call, because I believe Ja Rule was supposed to get this part and they couldn’t come to an agreement or something like that. At the last minute, they had to hurry up and fill this role. I remember right before getting on stage, I was in my dressing room and someone told me, ‘You have to try out for this part. They only have one day so you’ve got to put it on tape now, and here’s the sides and you’ve got to do it.’ I’m like 15, 20 minutes from going on stage… It’s that crunch situation of, ‘Am I going to get this part? I don’t know. I don’t have too much time to even think about being nervous about reading these lines. I just got to do this s—.’ And I did it, and the rest is f—ing history.”
In the Fast & Furious movies, Tej is shown to be a former race car driver, who drops out of the lifestyle after injuring his leg, and starts selling bootleg car parts instead. Over time, Tej gets back behind the while when he becomes a member of Dominic Toretto’s team, and shares a bantering friendship with Roman Pearce, played by Tyrese Gibson. According to Ludacris, his role as Tej helped him transition from music into acting, since the character is close to his real persona.
“It’s Ludacris in music and then Tej in the movie. But the good thing, humbly speaking, is that it wasn’t too far of a stretch from my regular, everyday, ordinary personality. So I kind of was able to play Ludacris to a degree, because if it’s my real first movie role, I think that’s a great transition to not be able to go too far the first time. It’s kind of like you’re just learning the fundamentals of what’s going on. So I’m not saying I was playing Ludacris in 2 Fast, but it wasn’t too far of a f—ing stretch from it.”
Tej will next be seen in the upcoming F9, where he will once again be a part of Dom’s team of racers charged with saving the day against the machinations of the villainous Cipher, and Dom’s own brother Jakob. Directed by Justin Lin, F9 stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, and Charlize Theron. The film arrives in theaters on June 25. This news arrives from Entertainment Weekly.