Leon is one of my favorite characters in the Fast and Furious franchise. "Who?" is the most common response among casual fans when I mention this. Leon was only in the first movie and according to a recent interview (link
) with the actor who played him, Johnny Strong, he's probably not coming back.
And you know what? I'm glad.
Johnny Strong as Leon in The Fast and the Furious (2001)
I love Leon. I love Johnny. Hell, I loved everyone in the first movie. But I'm glad Leon isn't coming back, because the Fast and Furious series has developed an infuriating pattern. If you're not a bald headliner, you're gonna die. Especially if you missed a movie or two.
Letty missed #2 and #3, then died in #4. The F&F team immediately realized how much of a mistake that was (translation: the fanbase tore them a new one) and her return was teased at the very end of #5. The same movie where they finally brought back Vince, who had been gone for 3 movies, just to kill him. Gisele died in #6. I think Han died twice, in #3 and #6? Whatever. And now, in #8, they've brought back another character whose only purpose was to die for someone else's story.
So yes, I'm glad that one of my favorite characters won't be coming back. As Johnny explained in the interview (and in other places over the years), it makes sense for Leon to be elsewhere. He became part of the original Toretto crew by showing up one night and just never leaving. He's a drifter. But thankfully, not a Tokyo Drifter. ;) If he's not coming back, they can't kill him. I'm fine with believing that Leon still exists somewhere in the F&F universe, having a fun and happy life without any international criminals after him or government agents pulling his strings.
Lesser actors might be begging to come back to such a popular franchise. Johnny may be missing out on the blockbuster payday and the fun of muscle-tantrums and press junkets, but he seems to be doing just fine. He makes knives, great music, and bad-ass action movies. They may not have cars jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper, but they're worth looking into if you'd like to see what he's been up to. IMDb, yo.