Sonequa Martin-Green is officially part of the family.
“The Walking Dead” and “Star Trek: Discovery” actor has joined the “Fast & Furious” franchise — by way of video game. She plays new character Vienna Cole in “Fast & Furious: Crossroads,” the upcoming racing/action roleplaying game from Bandai Namco that releases on Aug. 7. It was originally supposed to open in conjunction with “Fast & Furious 9,” but, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the big-screen return of Dom, Letty and the rest of the crew has been delayed to 2021. Martin-Green, however, hopes “Crossroads” can fill the void for fans looking to get their “Fast & Furious” fix.
“I hope it does, because there’s so much in this game to grab a hold of,” she says. “It’s in this world that they’re used to and it’s fast-paced and it’s high-stakes. It’s the characters that they know and love.”
Below, Martin-Green talks more about her new character, what it’s like to see herself in-game and representation in the “Fast & Furious” franchise and gaming at large.
Popular on Variety
Tell me about your new character, Vienna, and how she fits into the crew.
Oh man, well, I love Vienna Cole. I see Vienna as very tough, very self-sufficient, very driven, ambitious, but, you know, there’s some burdens there as well, which I appreciated being able to dig into, because I love when these strong female characters have vulnerability that is easily shown, and I love seeing people navigating tragedy or guilt. These are things that are very relatable, so I had a good time digging into that, and in the game, as you’ll see, there’s some stuff that goes down that causes Vienna to sort of flee and leave racing behind forever, along with Cam, who’s another new lead in the video game.
And as always, the ish hits the fan, and so Vienna has to go back and lean on some old acquaintances, being the gang that we all know and love, to sort of solve the mystery, get justice and all that good stuff. I don’t wanna tell too much, but it’s very exciting and it’s exciting for me to even be a part of this, to come into this franchise. Once I saw the trailer, it was very surreal to see myself in the midst of this gang that we know and love and we’ve been with for so many years.
Were you a fan of the “Fast & Furious” franchise before this?
Yes! I was, and it’s one of those things where I’ve always just appreciated the representation of this franchise. And so, of course these are wild rides, but you know, each movie also has such character-driven stories as well. So I’ve always just looked to the franchise with sort of a fist, like “Yes!” You know what I mean? So I’m very excited to be a part of it.
Are you a gamer?
You knowww… no [laughs]. Not really, which is funny. I could chalk it up to just being… busy, maybe? You know, I actually haven’t gotten into gaming quite yet with our son, either. My husband and I, our son is 5, and so we’re sort of watching to see, “so when is gaming gonna become a thing with him?” It hasn’t yet, and not to say I’ve never played games, and I have seen games in the last several years that have been really impressive to me. But yeah, I wouldn’t say that I’m a gamer.
What about this project made you want to get involved in the gaming space?
Well, speaking to this franchise again, I’m really a proponent for representation, and I always have been, and I found myself in a position — I’ve been blessed — to be a position where I can speak to representation in the industry, and certainly now, in the gaming world, because it has taken such a hold on us, and there’s such opportunity there for influence, and for that actualization that comes from representation. So I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this because of that, because “Fast & Furious” has been doing this for 20 years, representing so many areas of the world and so many different cultures, and really celebrating that. So that was what was most exciting to me about being a part of it, because I really believe in that and I really appreciate the franchise for that.
And then also, gaming is mad fun! And I know that it’s something that so many people really enjoy and I know there’s a lot of good things that we can escape to that bring us joy and so, I’m down for that for reason as well. It was a one plus one equals two for me.
When you first saw yourself in the game, what was that like?
Cray cray! [laughs] There’s something — and I know I said it before — but there’s just something so surreal about seeing yourself in that form, and what was most surreal to me, like I said before, was seeing myself with these people, you know? With these characters that I’ve known and loved for so long. Yeah, it was quite mind-blowing. And of course, also, like, cool. It’s super cool, you know? But mind-blowing also.
Do you think this is a character that could appear in the movies?
Well… you know… I don’t know! Time will tell! The fans will let everybody know! [laughs] I mean, anything could happen, I suppose.
After “The Walking Dead” and “Star Trek” — and you have “Space Jam 2” coming up — you’re no stranger to joining an established franchise. Do you approach a role in a big series like this differently than any other role?
I don’t know if I approach it any differently in terms of building a life, you know? Building the memory in a story. Because no matter what I’m doing, that’s always what I’m striving to do, is bring a story off the page to life. That’s what we do. So in that way, I approach it the same. I do think emotionally, sometimes I do have to get over a sense of being overwhelmed, or a sense of, you know, just wanting so badly to bring justice to something that already has such a following and such a reach and already has made such an impact. I do want do it right and do my best – not like I don’t always want to do my best. I do always want to do my best. But sometimes that happens, where I have to sort of get over that hump when I come into something like this, a goliath like this. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, when it’s time to create, I really set those things to the side, because they don’t serve as much when it’s time to create. Because then it’s just, “hey, what is this story, let me let my imagination run free.”
This interview has been edited and condensed. “Fast & Furious: Crossroads” will be available for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on Aug. 7.