Like many people of an older persuasion, my first impression of Tyrese Gibson was twenty years ago when he starred in John Singleton’s BABY BOY. At the time it had a mixed reception, but I thought it was a good companion piece/followup to BOYZ N THE HOOD, and this R&B singer or whatever he was, he was good in it. (For a long time I thought he had started as a model, but now I’m thinking I had him mixed up with Tyson Beckford?) It has some laughs in it, but it’s a dramatic role. He goes through quite a bit.
To Gibson’s great fortune, it was Singleton who was directing the first sequel to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS when Vin Diesel decided he didn’t want to do it and a new co-lead was needed. So he swooped in to play Roman Pearce, childhood friend of Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) who blames him for his prison bid for car theft but reluctantly accepts an undercover job with him to gain his freedom (an obvious rewrite of where Dominic Toretto would’ve ended up if he’d been in the movie). The two characters do some bickering, but at that time Roman was a serious action guy, a type Gibson would also play in WAIST DEEP, some TRANSFORMERSes, DEATH RACE and LEGION. He collaborated with Singleton again on FOUR BROTHERS and with pre-TOKYO DRIFT Justin Lin on ANNAPOLIS but was not one of the FAST crew invited back for part 4.
Eight years after 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, when Roman finally returned in FAST FIVE, Diesel was back in the central role, so Tyrese got to riff and be silly. Other than saying grace in FURIOUS 6 and monologuing about sacrifice (while flying a space hooptie) in F9, he has mainly remained comic relief for four subsequent FASTs. (read the rest of this shit…)