Jordana Brewster’s first big movie role arrived in 2001 in the form of The Fast and the Furious. At that point the actress was largely known as a teen soap star and her turn as Mia Toretto opposite Paul Walker and Vin Diesel urged her career in a new direction. Brewster unexpectedly reprised the role for Fast & Furious 4, which relaunched the franchise in 2009, and since been an integral part of the series. She spends much of Furious 7, out April 3, out of the main action, but remains important to its story as the love interest of Walker’s Brian O’Conner. At a recent press junket for the film, Brewster discussed her work on the franchise, jumping off buildings with Walker and took on our Lucky 7.
What’s continually compelled you about these movies?
Who the hell wouldn’t want to come back? It’s such a fun franchise because we get to travel the world. They keep adding elements, which keeps it really exciting. Like this time we’ve got Kurt Russell, Djimon Hounsou, Jason Statham, who is a badass. So every time you come back you never know what’s around the corner. Our fans are so loyal and amazing, and worldwide it’s such a big franchise. I would never leave it.
What’s the coolest place you’ve gotten to go?
Brazil was my favorite [in Fast Five] because I grew up there. I grew up in Rio and we went back and my whole family went to the premiere and it was just so much fun. It was such a good backdrop for it.
You’re not as much a part of the action in this one, but have you learned on the past films how to drive a car well?
I’m a good driver. I wouldn’t say amazing. I still can’t drive stick. I tried. I took a lesson and went down a garage in LA. And then I was like, “I have no patience. I can’t. I’ll just drive automatic.”
What’s been your favorite scene to shoot overall?
My favorite scene was definitely the action scene with Paul where we both jump off of a house. It was so much fun. I was so chicken shit at the beginning of the day. He was sort of my cheerleader and coached me through it. Justin [Lin] didn’t warn me. There was just a harness in my trailer that morning and I was like “Why is there a harness in my trailer?” He was like “Oh, you’re doing a big stunt today.” So I had to do it. I’m so glad I did it. I forgot that you have to act by doing at first. At first I just jumped. It’s almost like bungee jumping and I realized my face was wrong. So then I was like “Oh, I have to look badass.” And Paul gave me tips on that. You feel tough as you’re doing it. It feels really good.
What has being in these movies led to for you?
I mean, I kind of owe my career to them in a way. I was able to stay in school because of them. No one’s going to forget me – these movies made a ton of money and they’re going to stick around. And then it came back at a really fortuitous time as well. When we were all called back I feel like I wasn’t really doing that much so I’m glad it came back when it did.
Were you expecting to come back?
Never. When Tokyo Drift happened I thought “Okay they’re taking it in a totally different direction.” I was really excited. And now here we are at seven.
The tribute to Paul in this movie is really touching. How do you feel about it?
I was so relieved. I didn’t know how it would end up. I didn’t know what the tone would be when we were finishing the film — I was so relieved and so happy when I finally saw the film. Because I think it’s so fitting and it’s beautiful. And I think his fans will love it as well. It’s hard to get through without crying.
Do you have a hope for the franchise’s overall legacy?
It’s so beloved by the fans that I hope we never jump the shark. Like how the Bond movies are always really, really good. I feel like I hope that’s what we continue to do. Deliver solid movies.
What was your first encounter with Playboy?
My uncles, who were super young so they were kind of like cousins, had them. I was like, “Oh my God, those are so naughty.” It was Brazil, after all, though. It was the American version in Brazil.
What’s the first pop song you knew all the words to?
Probably TLC’s “Chasing Waterfalls.” I knew all the words. New Kids On The Block was pretty big for me too. I was around eight or nine. They were huge in Brazil. And Baywatch was the one show that was huge there.
You were getting into some scandalous things between Playboy and Baywatch.
I know! I was.
What’s the first thing you bought with that first big check?
All My Children was my first paying gig and that was pretty good. I was 15. My mom was not the most frugal so she was like “Let’s go buy jewelry.” And I was like “Okay.” I bought myself jewelry. I still have it. It was a cool mom thing, but I also should have saved and been a little more frugal. But it was cool.
Let’s pretend you’re on death row: What’s your last meal?
My last meal would be a ton of bread, cheese and wine, followed by this thing called Chocolate Pizza they have at Craig’s in LA. It’s pizza crust and then it’s got pie dough crumbs and then ice cream and chocolate. It’s just so effing good. And a martini. It’s a carb heavy meal – I love bread. But I’m about to die so who cares?
Who was your earliest celebrity crush?
It’s kind of weird, but I liked Sylvester Stallone a lot. I thought he was really hot. I really did. It wasn’t a movie. It was a Vanity Fair spread with him I saw and I just thought he was so hot. I always liked muscles. I’ve never met him.
What was your first car?
I’d been working since I was 15, I should preface it by saying that, and it was a 3 series BMW. Everyone was like “Why are you driving a white car?” but I loved it. I kept it for a good four or five years. I got teased a lot by my castmates. After that I went through this mid-SUV phase where I drove that Lexus that’s shaped like an egg. So boring. And then the Mercedes that’s not huge but also not small. And now I drive Range Rover and that’s my favorite car. Driving in LA makes you want to be in a big car.
So being in these movies never made you want a sports car?
No. I don’t feel comfortable. I’m a little claustrophobic so I don’t like being in the tiny car. Just put me in a giant tanker and I’m good.
What’s the biggest lie you ever told?
It would be “I swear I’m not lying.” I don’t tell that very often. I try to be pretty transparent. But I think little white lies are okay once in a while. I think they’re a little necessary to get through life.
Emily Zemler is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She has written for Esquire, ELLE, The Hollywood Reporter and Nylon, and is currently working on her first book. Tweet to her at @emilyzemler.