[UPDATE: Sulinh Lafontaine has now issued an apology on her Facebook page admitting that she fabricated her involvement in the film]
With all of the success of [Furious 7](movie:264263) and the entire Fast and Furious series over the past 14 years, it's no surprise that many big names in Hollywood have wanted to be a part of this massive franchise. However, today I found out, through Jason Torchinsky's report over on Jalopnik, that one woman is so desperate to be considered a part of the franchise that she seems to have not only lied about her part in the film, but dragged down the reputation of the stunt industry in the process!
Sulinh Lafontaine calls herself an actress, stunt driver and producer, and has publicly stated throughout the promotion of Furious 7 that she was the only female stunt driver in the film. Pretty awesome, right? Well there's only one problem with Lafontaine's claim - it's completely untrue.
Where did the lies start?
Lafontaine was at the premiere of Furious 7 and was interviewed by a blogger who goes by the name 'Montebubbles'. That interview was then posted on CNN's iReport (a section of CNN which is not officially vetted) and titled “Furious 7 World Premiere with the only female stunt car driver Sulinh Lafontaine.” Of course with a title like that you're bound to get quite a bit of attention, and it did! The stunt community soon noticed the article and were outraged by the lies she was claiming as truth. Checkout some excerpts from the now-deleted article:
What cars did you drive?
I drove both hero cars as well as nondescript cars, Bugatti, McLaren, Dodge Charger, and a few others.
What was the most difficult stunt you did as a stunt car driver on Furious 7?
The rally. Avoiding collisions at that speed on the track.
How fast were you driving?
Speed varies depending on the scenes. My top speed on this set was 140mph.
Now this might sound pretty impressive, but Jason Torchinsky actually interviewed the Furious 7 supervising stunt coordinator, Joel Kramer, and it was quickly apparent that Lafontaine was spewing pure lies. Kramer confirmed that in multi-car scenes the cars would be traveling 25-50mph maximum, (they are made to look faster in post-production), and speeds beyond this would bring about serious safety issues, making Lafontaine's claimed speed of 140mph are completely farfetched.
Claims by Lafontaine to have driven the Bugatti car, plus two others that featured in a scene set in Abu Dhabi were deemed laughable by Kramer who simply thought her ability to split herself into three separate drivers at once was impressive.
The interview continued:
What was it like being the only female stunt car driver?
Female stunt drivers are far and few in between. It’s hard to break into the stunt industry, even harder if you are a female. But to be the only female stunt driver on a set of this magnitude was absolutely mind blowing! I feel very honored. And blessed.
Now while Lafontaine's comments about her stunts on set were one thing, her claim to being the only female stunt driver in the film are just downright disrespectful.
Debbie Evans may not be a name you're familiar with but you've certainly seen her driving skills! Evans' driving has appeared in five of the Fast and Furious films, including Furious 7, and she is a complete legend in the stunt acting community. Not only that, but Joel Kramer has stated that there were at least seven or eight other female stunt drivers involved in the production! Lafontaine's hurtful claim that she was the only female stunt driver in the film is only perpetuating the idea that women don't do stunt driving, something which is clearly untrue.
Lafontaine has even gone further than just claiming she was in the film by bizarrely photoshopping herself into the poster for Furious 7 and renaming it Furious 7.5:
Finally after disrespecting the entire stunt driving and acting community, Lafontaine went on to disrespect Paul Walker by claiming to know how his death had affected the crew:
Did you the feel the overshadow of Paul Walker while filming?
Absolutely. Fast and Furious storylines have always been about the dynamic between Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. Without Paul to wrap up the filming was extremely tough on everyone. The mood was very somber. But the job had to be done. The film had to be complete. It definitely was not an easy task. I think they gave a terrific tribute to Paul at the end of the film. I was completely teary-eyed at the premiere.
This to me is the final straw. Claiming to be the only female stunt driver in Furious 7 is rude and hurtful to the amazing stunt acting community, but trying to use the death of Paul Walker to make herself seem like she was a more integral part to the film than she real was? That's just plain wrong.
So, was she even in the film?!
While it has become apparent that Lafontaine had absolutely no part in the stunt driving on Furious 7, stunt co-ordinator Joel Kramer believes that she may have been a part of a crowd of 1,500 extras. This would explain how Lafontaine managed to snap the photo above which was posted on her Flickr photostream with these hashtags:
After she was an extra in the film, perhaps she had the idea to claim she was a stunt driver as a way of boosting her career. While it's true that stunt drivers and actors are extremely under-appreciated, it just seems mind-boggling that she thought she could get away with publicly claiming something so untrue considering Furious 7 has had so much publicity. I can only hope that Lafontaine issues an apology soon, and refrains from trying to make sure blatantly untrue claim any time in the future.
Check out this footage of Sulinh Lafontaine not driving in Furious 7: