*”Fast Five” opened with $86 million, the largest April opening ever and biggest since “Harry Potter’s” $125 million. The Film Strip asked Tyrese Gibson why is the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise so successful when other big budget sequels fail. “It just kind of has all the elements in it,” he explained. “It’s multi-ethnic. It’s adrenalin [driven]. It has sex appeal. It has swag, it has energy, it’s an adventure and it’s not the kind of movie that you kind of come into over thinking it and pick it apart. You just know you’re gonna come into it ready to have some fun and leave with your girl and go do whatever else you’re doing after that.”

The energy onscreen certainly spilled over to audience. Gibson says there wasn’t a problem of too much testosterone on the set of “Fast Five” because he knew his limits. “I got a deep voice but Vin Diesel’s voice is a little deeper,” he admits. “I got muscles but the Rock Johnson muscles are a little bigger and so I was like I’m not gonna compete with that. I’m just going to try and bring whatever energy I can and tap into my own Roman Pearce energy and have it be consistent with who I was in ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’ movie.”

The next question of course dealt with the $11 million dollars that was on the line if the ‘Fast Five’ successfully executed their proposed project. “What would I do if I had 11 m’s? One of the first things I would do is try and figure out a way to help people grow their businesses. There are a lot of people with brilliant ideas and concepts and dreams and visions that are just lacking funding. So I would want to help a lot of people get some ideas off the ground. Other than that, it’s time to live it up to the fullest.”

Gibson never takes his success for granted he confides. “I never do anything without praying first. The first day I got to the set me, Vin, Cris, Paul along with a few others agreed to pray with me. We all came together, bowed our heads and we prayed and that right there in itself broke the ice.” Prayer has obviously been a blessing in Tyrese’s life. “I don’t know how I did it,” he reflects, “but I was able to do ‘Fast Five’ and ‘Transformers’ at the same time over the course of six and a half months and I was writing my book and finished it.

“I love what I do. I’m a Watts man, from the bottom of the bottom and it’s just unreal and I never want to get used to this. When you’re in the hood, before we all started making whatever level of money we were making, you just remember being hungry, being stuck, that vulnerable feeling of ‘man, where am I gonna get this or how am I going to get there,’ that feeling, it just never goes away.

“I was born and raised in Watts at Martin Luther King hospital in ’78. Look at me now. Nobody gave me sh*t; I grinded it out. I deal with politics, racism, people who just decide that because of who you are, where you’re from and with your energy, ‘I’m just not going to give it to you even though your resume and everything you’re coming with says I’m supposed to give this to you.’ You still have to work for it. And to  be honest, it’s one thing to make money and get nice things, but it’s even harder to keep them. It’s one thing to receive the blessing, it’s another thing to maintain it.

“So it’s a blessing that’s even more challenging to maintain once you get on the other side of the fence. However, there’s nothing that I’ve done that others can’t do. They just have to decide that they want to meet a better version of themselves. Step up to the plate and go get it done. I decided I was my own man. I wasn’t born a Siamese twin and my brain and my thoughts aren’t connected to yours… [I told myself] there has to be something better than this. So by the grace of God, I’m still here. Opportunities are still coming and my phone is still ringing and I’m just trying to show up and be the best version of me that I can.”

With some celebrities claiming to be winning and failing at life and their careers, Gibson gave reasons why he is winning. “Well, I don’t drink or smoke. You’ll never catch me high, ever. There are a lot of people sacrificing their sexuality, their spirituality to get to whatever is considered the next level. I don’t want it if I have to go there, cult illuminati, devil worship. You hear the rumors about all this stuff that’s floating around; I don’t want it.  If God’s not in it, it won’t last. So my humility and my feelings and my thoughts come from recognizing what my source of all my blessings come from. And at this point it also feels good to know that I got a bunch of people rooting for me to win because sometimes you can root for the wrong people or you root for people based on the way they appear to be.  There are a lot of undiscovered magicians out here that are convincing people of who they are but they are really not that way.”

I’ve been so disappointed in remakes and fantasy films that when I heard about “Thor,” I was unimpressed until I found out that Kenneth Branagh was directing he fulfilled my expectations. Known to have directed and starred in a number of Shakespearean projects, he is also known to be a dauntless, blind casting director. He has directed Denzel Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Adrian Lester and Carmen Ejogo. Stepping out of his element and taking on a Marvel comics big budget film such as “Thor” did give Branagh pause but it did not deter him. “The scale of the undertaking couldn’t help but make you feel occasionally that it was very, very challenging, but that was part of what was attractive,” Branagh beamed.

The man of the hour in ‘Thor’ is Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor. Asked what kind of hero does he think we need and who is his hero, he responded with, “Good question.  You know, I mean, growing up my parents were my heroes, the way they conducted their lives.  My dad works in child protection. He spent many, many years in that line of work.  And you know, we, as kids, our experiences shape our opinions on ourselves, and the world around us, and that’s who we become as adults, because of that experience.  So yeah, he’s certainly been, you know, my hero.”

Being who he is, Branagh was able to attract the best talent in the field, that include Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins. Seeing Elba as the black gatekeeper was awesome. Hopkins said unequivocally that he came onboard because of Branagh. “Funny thing was, I hadn’t seen Ken for some years, and I wasn’t sure how he would respond to me, because I was one of the bad boys who ran away from England many years ago, and I came out to Cuckoo Land [I love this man because Hopkins always tells it like  it is]. I thought, ‘Yeah, I’d love to work with him,’ because  I’ve always been a fan of Ken’s. And it turned out to be the most enjoyable film I’ve been involved in for a long time.”