What Happened to Jesse, Vince and Leon?
While Vince (played by Matt Schulze) made an appearance in Fast Five, but he’s not the only one missing. So what happened to Jesse, Vince and Leon? Let’s find out.
I met Matt on the set of the first movie. Since he was driving my Maxima, we exchanged some pleasantries at on-set a few times. I didn’t see him much until after the film was completed, and we ran into each other a few times at crew screenings and at the Hollywood Premier. He seemed like a focused guy of few words, but then again, I’m just a nobody.
Schulze made his big-screen debut in 1998’s action film Blade, as the character Crease. He was also in an episode of Charmed, titled “Dream Sorcerer”, in which he went into the dreams of women and killed them. In 1999, Schulze was cast in a leading role in Woody Keith’s film Dementia (1999 film). His next film was the teen comedy Boys and Girls, where he had a small role as Paul. In 2001, he starred in Downward Angel. The same year he also appeared in The Fast and the Furious. Schulze returned in Blade II playing Bloodpack vampire assassin Chupa, and in the same year, Schulze was cast as another villain in The Transporter. For me, his role in the Transporter was superb – he nailed it.
In 2004, he appeared in Torque, a decision I’m guessing he regrets.
Since then he has appeared in films including The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, Seven Mummies, and Final Move. He has also appeared in an episode of CSI: Miami and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He appeared in two films in 2007: The Flock and Mr. Brooks. In 2008, Schulze wrote, directed, and starred in the web series film The Acquirer (Episode 1). The film was shot on location in Paris, France, and was filmed entirely in high definition. Schulze stars opposite Tom Sizemore as Lucien, an international jewel thief. He returned for the fifth installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise, Fast Five, reprising his role as Vince.
His IMDB, in fact, shows a long list of credits, so he’s actually had a pretty amazing career including another movie in 2018. While he may be a background character in the “Fast” franchise, his career moves forward.
Why He’s Probably Not Coming Back
Will he be coming back to the franchise? Since they more or less killed him off in Fast 5, most likely not. Because the franchise has become SUCH a big hat, famous actors/actresses are ASKING to be in the movies. Not to take anything away from Matt – he has great screen presence in my opinion – but we have Dwane Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Helen Mirren, Vin Diesel and Luke Evans, it’s hard to justify spending more money on actors when your lineup is already pretty amazing. And with the addition of John Cena in Fast 9, I don’t see a way back for Vince’s character unless they sneak in his resurrection in the final installment, Fast 10, simply to pander to audiences.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching Fast & Furious movies, even if you blew up in a car and people go to your funeral, you still might be dead. That’s some bullshit, right there.
Johnny Strong (aka Leon)
This section is taken from an Entertainment Weekly article and it covers a lot of information, so I’ll include it. At the end of this section, I’ll add some more to it.
We’ve learned a lot of things through seven (soon-to-be eight) Fast & Furious films, whether it’s that cars can fly or that Ja Rule cost himself a lot of money. Yet, the biggest lesson is that there’s nothing more important than family. But what happens when a member of the family disappears and is never heard from again?
“I get asked on a weekly basis by fans of my work and fans of Fast & Furious, ‘What happened to Leon?’” says Johnny Strong. “If you watch the film and you understand the characters, it would be understandable that he would disappear and move on, just as he showed up.”
As the franchise has gone on, Dom’s motley crew has been beefed up, adding players like Roman Pearce (Tyrese), Tej Parker (Ludacris), and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). In the beginning, though, there was the original five, consisting of Dom (Vin Diesel), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Vince (Matt Schulze), Jesse (Chad Lindberg), and Leon (Strong). Just two of them remain, with Dom and Letty still anchoring the team, as Jesse was killed in The Fast and the Furious, while Vince returned for redemption in Fast Five, only to also die. And Leon, well, no one really knows what happened to him — not even his portrayer.
If you aren’t a diehard Fast & Furious fan, you might be asking, “Who is Leon?” Even Strong had that question, describing the character as a “lost loner type.” Leon’s sole appearance didn’t shed much light on him, beyond his penchant for wearing generic basketball jerseys and yelling at pizza boys. In fact, it wasn’t until Strong saw the film that he learned a hint of his character’s background when Mia (Jordana Brewster) tells Brian (Paul Walker) that Leon “just showed up one night and never ever left.”
Well, by the end of the movie, he had left. After their big final heist backfired, one that Strong notes Leon was hesitant to go through with, the character was last seen driving Dom, Mia, and an injured Letty away. Right before the death of Jesse, Dom told Brian that Leon and Letty are “long gone.” While Rodriguez sat out 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift, she eventually returned, notwithstanding a presumed death along the way. Seven movies later, Leon is still nowhere to be found.
“As the film progresses, towards the end, there’s a scene where Leon kind of voices his disapproval and he’s shut down by Dom, which showed at this point, Leon is doubting his leader and Dom is losing control over his gang and mission,” theorizes Strong. “After that, Jesse is killed, Letty and Vince almost died, so I think it’s understood that Leon had had enough of that situation. The heat had become too risky and he didn’t want anything more to do with the gang.”
Before Fast & Furious was a billion-dollar phenomenon, it was a street racing film named Redline. Fresh off working with Sylvester Stallone on Get Carter, Strong landed the part of Leon, originally written as a darker version of the character who made it to screen. “One of the things I liked is that it was this kind of small, gritty movie about these underground racers pulling these heists in the middle of the night,” shares Strong. “I look back and nobody knew what it was going to turn into, if they say they did, they’re lying to you.”
While his fellow original cast members like Diesel and Rodriguez have tied their careers to the series, Strong’s Fast relationship was basically over the minute he finished shooting The Fast and the Furious. Missing the premiere as he was in Morocco for Black Hawk Down, he finally saw it once he returned to the U.S., marking the only time he would see any of the films in the franchise.
Why He’s Probably Not Coming Back
As audiences have embraced the transformation through the series from street racing in L.A. to cars jumping through buildings in Abu Dhabi, Strong yearns for the initial film’s more realistic and plausible stakes. “By the looks of the new trailers of the movies, where you’ve got a guy who is grabbing a torpedo that is being fired from a submarine… For me, it’s kind of jumped the shark a bit,” he opines.
Over the years, Strong has focused on his music career and being more involved in the behind-the-scenes filmmaking process, which often includes scoring the projects he acts in, including the recent post-apocalyptic thriller Daylight’s End. And while he says he hasn’t had the time to revisit the Fast franchise, Strong would be onboard to make a return, albeit with a big caveat. “It would have be the right situation and it would have to make sense character and story-wise,” says Strong, suggesting Leon could either serve as an adversary for his old friends or show up to save them when all appears lost. “I would hope if I was involved that it would go back to the gritty beginnings of the franchise. They might not be open to it, but if it’s just something for me to collect a big check and do it just to do it, then I’m not really interested.”
Seemingly comfortable with the prospect of never reviving Leon, Strong believes the character’s mysterious whereabouts add to the intrigue and fascination, comparing it to the cult following for Star Wars‘ Boba Fett.
“I love knowing that Leon is out there in that Fast & Furious universe somewhere,” he says. “Because there’s no resolution to him, that’s what keeps the spirit alive. I think it’s awesome that fans still talk about a character who was probably in the movie for a total of five minutes.”
My thoughts: Johnny had very few lines in the move so, in fairness to him, he really didn’t get a chance to shine. And as I said above, the newer movies are packed with super-stars.
Chad Lindberg (aka Jesse)
America’s favorite A.D.D. afflicted mechanic has been busy. One look at his IMDB will prove that he has not been resting on his laurels.
I ran into Chad and a car show in Montreal, Canada in 2018 and had a nice chat with him. He was thrilled with the enthusiasm fans from around the globe still display towards the franchise. Would he come back? “Yes, I would come back in a second if I were asked.”
If you saw the first movie, you might be saying “well, too bad, Jesse’s dead.” Here’s the plot twist: in late 2018, Director Rob Cohen took to social media to proclaim “Jesse is NOT dead.” Rob is technically right because in Hollywood, even when you have a funeral, it does not mean someone is dead. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is a perfect example.
Shortly after that social media post, Rob posted “I shouldn’t have killed Jesse.” While his transition from his Earthly character to his heavenly spirit is in Hollywood-limbo, it’s a safe bet to assume he will not be back in any major way in the final movies of the franchise. I attribute this to the same reasons listed above – in other words, his character simply wasn’t important enough to the overall story.
In every movie, there are starring actors and there are supporting actors – Chad is largely appearing as a supporting actor. His IMDB shows that he continues to work in both film and television (as of 2020) but will he come back to the franchise? Unlikely unless the Director decides to resurrect him in the final installment of the franchise: Fast 10.
Personally, I’d like to see the last scene in the last movie end with a family cookout at a park. All the characters, old and new, alive (and may be dead, or sort of dead) could meet. Maybe even close some open plot holes. That probably won’t happen though, as Fast 8 has shown that Universal has given up on any plotline that is remotely feasible and as one blogger wrote, ‘the Fast and Furious crew should just fight the Avengers in the final film.’
Why not? It’s just as ridiculous as Fast 6, 7 and 8.