Do you love Fast and the Furious? You’re going to love our list. Don’t love the franchise? You’re still probably going to come away with more appreciation for the insane amount of work that goes into the movies by the time this list is done. You’ll even learn where on earth Tommy Lee Jones was supposed to fit into the franchise!
With the 8th and perhaps biggest one yet racing it’s way to theaters, there is never a better time to dust out numbers 1-7. Don’t have time to watch the franchise? How about instead you learn some fast and awesome tidbits to drop into conversation with your friends.
Naturally, plenty of the conversation is going to steer around one of the biggest names of the franchise, Vin Diesel and that’s where we have you covered.
Diesel has been through a lot with the franchise and we’ve done our best to cover it all as we pop open the hood and take a look at Diesel’s thoughts on the character he’s helped bring to life.
Whether it’s what his favorite moment was, who the first choice for the role was, how much he made for Fast 7 (and turned down for #2!) and all the details behind his famous feud with Johnson; there is no shortage of fantastic facts.
15. What Difference He’s Bringing To The Character This Time
Plenty of fans out there (and perhaps even more vocally the critics) are wondering why on earth this franchise continues to pump out movies (though the $$$ is a pretty big indicator). But when talking about the upcoming movie, Diesel was open about the amount of growth his character has gone through and how it may play out on-screen
“Fast 8 is different. It’s very dark. My character is conflicted in a way that is really going to shock you. He’s coming off of a lot of emotion from 7 and the loss that 7 represents. It’s kind of cold-blooded. It’s going to hit you like a ton of bricks.”
14. The Influence Paul Walker Still Has
Understandably Paul Walker has been a topic of conversation for Vin Diesel throughout their time working together and more prominently following Walker’s tragic passing. When talking about Walker’s influence on the upcoming movie, Diesel wasn’t shy in mentioning the impact that his death had on the entire production,
“There wasn’t a second we made this movie, not a minute – you can ask Gary (director) – not a day that went by that we weren’t thinking about our brother Pablo, how to bring him into the movie, how to represent him, and how to make something that he would be proud of.”
13. How Much He Made For Fast 7 ($47 Million)
Now when you consider that Furious 7 ended up making over $1.5 billion around the world, you need to understand that Vin Diesel was probably going to get paid a pretty penny to return to the franchise.
But you may still be astonished to hear that Diesel’s contract helped him bring home $47 million for the film. When putting together a list of the richest actors in 2015, Diesel took home the #3 spot trailing behind Jackie Chan and Robert Downey Jr.
12. Why He Appeared In Tokyo Drift
You’re going to read more about why Vin Diesel elected to step away from 2 Fast 2 Furious, but you may also be interested to hear that it was his request for the rights around the Chronicles of Riddick franchise, which he had previously starred in but was unsuccessful with critics/the box office, that persuaded him to cameo in the 3rd.
“I think this was about the time that Fast 3 had already shot and they were testing it. Maybe it wasn’t testing as well as it should have and they decide, ‘Maybe we need a cameo from Vin,’ because he wasn’t in that movie. So, I do believe that in his savviness, Vin said, ‘Don’t pay me for that cameo. Just give me the rights back.'”,
11. The Influence Of Fans + Who Was Going To Be Johnson’s Character
Do you have some issues with the Fast and the Furious franchise? Don’t be afraid to voice them online! Diesel admitted in a past interview just how big of an influence fans can be.
“They were petitioning for Letty [Rodriguez’s character] to come back,” he said. “That was real,” said Diesel when discussing why Rodriguez’s character was brought back into the fold.
Diesel also boasted that no other franchise in the world has a fanbase that is as influential, including explaining why Johnson‘s character was added to the franchise,
10. He’s Promised Us At Least 10 Movies
If you’re out there wondering why Hollywood seems to be coming up with less and less original ideas and more and more franchises, then you may not be the hugest fan of The Fast in the Furious which is now on its 8th movie.
But if you love the movies, which logically you do because you’re reading this list, you may be ecstatic to hear that in a past interview Diesel admitted that they’ll be 10 films total
“Universal has been so good to me and so trusting of the vision… they have been like family… I promised the studio I would deliver one last Trilogy to end the saga.”
9. He Wanted Flying Cars
If there are things in the franchise that you may feel they’re lacking, innovative car scenes and huge set-pieces are definitely not among them. Yet when interviewed, Diesel confessed that there was one element they would have loved to have introduced already,
“There was a theme we were playing with, this idea of flying cars. There’s actually a scene that never got shot where Jack is throwing his cars at the wall and Brian says, ‘Hey, man! Car’s don’t fly!’ Which was going to dovetail and set up all of the flying cars in this movie.”
8. He Turned Down $20 Million For #2 To Make Chronicles of Riddick
When it came to trying to get Diesel for the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious, it definitely wasn’t through lack of effort on the studio’s part to bring him in.
In an interview, Diesel admitted that he turned away $20 million in order to instead make the movie Chronicles of Riddick.
“I remember turning down 2 fast 2 furious and a whole lot of money, and instead of doing that movie for the year I took a WGA writers polish deal for Chronicles for $50,000. Odd everyone around me, including my agents and manager, asked if I really care about this property, because $20 million to $50,000…”
7. He Wasn’t The First Choice
Vin Diesel has obviously become iconic in the role of Dominic Toretto, but as is the case with many franchises in Hollywood, he was not the first choice for the role.
Neal H. Moritz who has been a producer on all 8 movies has opened up about the original casting process,
“I had been working with Paul Walker on another movie, Skulls, and I gave him the script [for The Fast and the Furious]. Rob Cohen [who directs the 1st movie], who I had made The Rat Pack with, we gave him the script. The two of them liked the idea. And then we had to look for Dom Toretto. The studio said, ‘If you can get Timothy Olyphant to play that role we will greenlight the movie… The luckiest thing that ever happened to us is Tim Olyphant turned us down,”
While it clearly was a lucky break, Moritz was also quick to praise Olyphant saying that while it would have been a different series, he would have been interested to see that play out.
6. How The Franchise Changed Him
Vin Diesel has been playing this character for over a decade, so perhaps it’s understandable that he’s been interviewed and asked about how he feels the role and he has changed,
“I’ve grown up in this franchise, you know. I’ve grown up in this saga. I’ve become a man in this saga. I was young when I started it and now I’m a family man. When the first one came out, I just had to deal with the responsibility of portraying the character, and now I have greater responsibilities in protecting a mythology for a global audience,”
While some actors may also start to get lazy with their franchises, Diesel is adamant the bar is still higher than ever,
5. His Favorite Moment Of The Series
While there are plenty of jaw-dropping moments in the franchise that we’re sure are springing to your mind, when Diesel was asked about his favorite moment in the entire series it was a badass quote he dropped that stood out to him,
“The one moment that made this saga, is when my character says ‘I live my life a quarter-mile at a time’, when the audience heard that, I think that’s when Fast and the Furious became a franchise. One line that represented this whole world.”
4. He Thought The 2nd Script Was Trash But Has Regrets
While there are several factors that went into why he turned away the 2nd movie, Diesel has come out and also admitted that if the script hadn’t been terrible that he may have been comfortable appearing and that his decision not to, is one he at least sort of regrets,
“I would’ve said, ‘Don’t walk away from it just because the script sucked in 2 Fast 2 Furious because there’s an obligation to the audience to fight, no matter what, to make that film as good as possible.’ Just walking away doesn’t help that saga at all. I might have had a little bit more patience or belief in the long-term of it,” said Diesel.
3. He Doesn’t Really Hate The Rock
There is no shortage of real feuds that have gone down on movie sets in Hollywood. In fact, it was definitely heavily reported that Diesel and Johnson may have been at each other’s throats during the filming of this franchise,
“My female co-stars are always amazing and I love ’em. My male co-stars, however, are a different story. Some conduct themselves as standup men and true professionals, while others don’t. The ones that don’t are too chicken shit to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses. When you watch this movie next April and it seems like I’m not acting in some of these scenes and my blood is legit boiling – you’re right.”
Diesel has come out though and said that the media definitely made too much of it,
“In my house, he’s ‘Uncle Dwayne,’ and I’m proud of that. We still love each other, that’s my boy. I called and he said, ‘Brother, I will be there shoulder to shoulder with you to make sure it’s the best movie in history.’ And he delivered.”
2. He Made #8 For Paul Walker
Many people are going to see and enjoy the latest Fast and the Furious movie, but it definitely isn’t going to be the same movie without the inclusion of Paul Walker.
But one thing you may not know is that it was a video of Paul Walker that helped motivate Diesel to agree to sign on for the 8th one.
“It wasn’t just a question of whether this franchise could work without Paul. It was whether I could even survive doing it without Paul…[but then] I’d seen this video of Paul guaranteeing eight, while we were making seven. That hit me.”
1. Helen Mirren Begged Him For Her Role
Sure, this fact may be at least kind of centered around Helen Mirren but it includes a quote from Diesel so we’ll let it slide.
There are plenty of outstanding actors who have stepped into the Fast and the Furious franchise and helped give new life to it. But with Fast 8, it’s some old blood that we’re looking at!
Helen Mirren admitted at a red carpet event that she had been wanting to be in the franchise for years, leading Diesel to respond,
“I respect that. That’s what you need to do in this business. I don’t care what anyone thinks. I know the deal. I know I want to work with this dude, and I know I want to work with this franchise. There are so many options! You’ve got Nathalie Emmanuel’s mother. You’ve got, of course, the matriarch to the Shaw brothers!”
Diesel clearly ran with that thought, as she was later cast as Magdalene Shaw. When interviewed, Mirren gave Diesel further credit behind why she wanted the role
“It was particularly because I wanted to work with Vin because I just think he’s just so spectacular on the screen. He’s just got something… He’s a real movie star. He’s got something magical on the screen.”