You know the Fast and Furious drill by now: fast cars, Vin Diesel, bromance, fast cars, insane chases and stunts, fast cars, internationally wanted criminal in the mix, rinse, repeat. Even then, each Fast and Furious movie has — mostly — tried to do something a little different, whether that’s in upping the stunt ante or taking the action to exotic new locations, or giving Dwayne Johnson a giant military-grade helicopter machine gun. Accordingly, Furious 8 director F. Gary Gray is looking to keep things fresh in the upcoming sequel, and he has no intention of disappointing the Fast and Furious fanbase.

Gray most recently helmed Straight Outta Compton, 2015's hit film about iconic rap group N.W.A., the success of which is owed in part to his refusal to indulge in all the usual biopic tropes. Similarly, Gray tells Collider he isn’t interested in a paint-by-numbers Furious sequel:

I’m probably not at liberty to go too far into detail. All I have to say is I’m extremely excited about the direction we’re going in, and we’re really pushing to make sure the audience feels like it’s not more of the same. They feel like it’s fresh, they feel like the characters they’ve come to know and love are there, but this is gonna be different, and that’s probably the most I can give you right now.

When asked if he’s more interested in creating bigger action pieces or exploring character, Gray revealed a surprising influence on the project — The Force Awakens:

It’s a combination of both. When you look at someone like J.J. Abrams who gives you the spectacle and great action set pieces but also gives you character and plotting and narrative, I think it’s my job—and my intention—to do both. You amp up everything, you work on the performances, you work on the story, you work on the action; it’s just not one thing. Hopefully I bring more to it, that’s part of the point is to bring something different to the franchise while still satisfying what the fans want.

This isn’t the first time Gray has worked with star Vin Diesel — the pair previously collaborated on A Man Apart, and it’s that working relationship that probably helped Gray land the Furious 8 gig.

Diesel is the only actor officially confirmed to return for Furious 8 at this point, though Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham and more are expected to reprise their roles. Furious 8 hits theaters on April 14, 2017.

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