Vin Diesel first roared onto the big screen as Dominic Toretto in 2001, when The Fast And The Furious captivated car fans (and action movie lovers) with crazy chase scenes, street racers, and flat-out amazing cars. Since then, the Fast and the Furious franchise has expanded to eight films, wandered to the streets of Tokyo, and taken fans on an epic journey (that doesn’t seem to have any plans of ending soon). A ninth installment in the franchise is on the way for 2020, now, as well as a spin-off featuring the Rock’s character Hobbs.
There’s so much to love about this franchise - the incredible actors, the amazing stunt work, the cool cars (of course)… even behind the scenes, The Fast and the Furious is known for incredible stories and the connection between stars Diesel and the late Paul Walker. However, it’s not all smiles and rainbows on the set of this massive franchise; there have been plenty of feuds, insults, and surprising moments behind the scenes that the cast probably don’t want fans to think about… and while some of these are rumors that haven’t been substantiated, others have been confirmed by the cast members involved. How many of these secrets did you already know?
Street racing, though illegal, is a huge part of the car scene in most major cities - and obviously, is the backbone of the Fast and Furious franchise itself.
So in order to add some authenticity to the first Fast and the Furious movie, director Rob Cohen enlisted over 200 actual street racers to help out.
These are used primarily in the scenes of street races, with the racers bringing their own souped up cars to the set (arguably cheaper and easier than modifying that many cars for the production!). The film’s release also saw an increase in real-life races, as fans wanted to connect to the world of the Fast and the Furious… and law enforcement was obviously not happy about any of it!
There are plenty of supercars in the Fast and Furious franchise, and one of the rarest in the films is the Lykan Hypersport. It appears in Furious 7 as the car that held the God’s Eye chip. However, the production originally wanted to use a different car for this scene - the LaFerrari. Not just any Ferrari (which do appear in the franchise), but a LaFerrari, which is the ultimate exclusive supercar in the Ferrari line. It’s not even for sale in the usual sense - drivers who want one have to already be Ferrari owners, and get approval from Ferrari. Turns out, Fast and Furious didn’t meet the requirements, either. According to car co-ordinator Dennis McCarthy: Believe me, they tried. But Ferrari were like, ‘No thanks, we don’t need the press, our cars sell themselves.’
In Furious 7, there’s a particularly spectacular stunt involving cars being dropped out of a plane… and this stunt is absolutely the real deal.
The production made a decision to try and stay away from CGI, and instead, the scene was shot using a C-130 cargo plane, as well as skydiving cameramen and mounted cameras on helicopters, and it's an incredible shoot.
To make things even more impressive, the cars used were entire vehicles, not shells. Dennis McCarthy explains: They weren’t shells. They were complete, 100 per cent cars. I wish they were shells. There was another sequence in the film that changed, and so we had no time to build shells to drop out of the cargo plane.
Yes, the same universe as Herbie the Love Bug, the little sentient race car that charmed audiences with its family-friendly racing. Not exactly a film franchise that you would expect to be connected to the Fast and the Furious! However, the 1970 Dodge Charger driven by Diesel’s Dominic Toretto in the very first movie shows up in a junkyard scene in Herbie: Fully Loaded. This is the only detail that connects the two universes, however, fans love to speculate on the possibility that these two racing franchises could co-exist… or that the Love Bug could even show up in a future Fast and Furious movie! No, it’s not likely to happen (the franchises may share one vehicle, but they have very different audiences), but a great Easter Egg for Herbie fans to enjoy.
At the start of filming, neither Michelle Rodriguez or Jordana Brewster even had their driver's licenses! The two actresses both had to take a test in order to work on the franchise - for insurance purposes, as well as for very obvious reasons (although any particularly difficult scenes were done using stunt drivers). Rodriguez has even revealed that learning to drive specifically for this franchise has been terrible for her real life driving record, as she has a tendency to speed… ‘I got such a bad record for speeding ’cause I got my licence for Fast and Furious. After 11 points on your licence, you’re like ‘yo, where’s that Prius at? I’m dropping this M3 somewhere.’
Two of the biggest names in the Fast and the Furious franchise are Vin Diesel (of course) and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, but did you know that these two had some serious beef on set together? In The Fate of the Furious, Diesel’s Dom and the Rock’s Hobbs were up against each other, but the characters barely share any screen-time, because the two actors cannot stand each other. The Rock took to Instagram to post about filming, saying ‘Some [male co-stars] conduct themselves as stand up 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’. They’ve both also spun the feud as a positive difference of opinion between two strong ‘alphas’, but there’s definitely some bad blood.
Vin Diesel isn’t the only co-star that the Rock has a feud with. Tyrese Gibson, who plays Roman in the franchise, also has his issues with Dwayne Johnson. Gibson, like the Rock, has aired some of his issues via Instagram, when he posted begging Johnson not to let his spin-off affect the filming and release of Fast 9 (the unofficial title for the ninth film in the franchise). After that, Gibson stated that he wouldn’t appear in the ninth film if the Rock did, and threw his ‘candy ass’ words back in his face. He even insulted Baywatch! It looks like this particular feud is over for now, though, as Gibson spoke with ‘an associate’ of the Rock’s and publicly posted that he was letting this one die… although an apology was noticeably absent from that post.
It seems that the trouble between Gibson and the Rock started long before the delays over Fast 9, though… or at least, there was a little tension between the two, when the Rock improvised an insult on set. During filming of Fast and Furious 6, there’s a scene where Roman (Gibson’s character) tells Hobbs (the Rock’s character) to ‘hide that baby oil’. Hobb’s instant response ‘you better hide that big-ass forehead’ wasn’t actually in the script - the insult to Gibson’s appearance was entirely off the cuff, and left in because it worked so well. It seems that there was a little tension between the two even then!
While some of the cast members have issues with specific people, Michelle Rodriguez (who plays Letty) has been so frustrated with the franchise as a whole that she has threatened to quit… twice! Both times, it was out of frustration at how her character was treated in the movie, and the limitations of the character as one of the few female characters in the franchise. Of the first movie, and a storyline where Letty cheats on Dom, Rodriguez said ‘My whole point in being an actress is that I thought I got to live a dream. I don’t dream of being a slut! Do you?!’ Later, she posted on Instagram (clearly a popular forum for the stars of the franchise), that if the films didn’t ‘show some love to the women’ she would ‘have to say goodbye’.
Point Break, the surfer heist movie that was a massive hit in the early ‘90s, isn’t necessarily the first film you would think to compare the Fast and the Furious to… but once you get past the ‘car’ part, these two films are shockingly similar.
Both are about an agent who goes undercover to try and infiltrate a gang, and then ends up falling for a girl and letting the ‘bad guy’ go because he’s been so changed by his experience.
Of course, Hollywood movies are often known to re-tell the same old stories, and when both are great films, no one really minds - and there are even a couple of in-world connections between the two that point to everyone involved knowing exactly what they were doing.
For such a man’s man and an action hero (especially an incredibly buff one), you might be surprised to know that Vin Diesel himself is a total nerd!
The actor is a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons, to the point that he’s introduced a little of that mythology to Fast and Furious itself.
Writer Chris Morgan is also a D&D player, and has said that when working on the movies, they took a very long-campaign approach to the creation of this universe: ‘when we get together to talk story, the way we break it down is he tends to throw around words like ‘saga’ and ‘mythology’ because it is. It’s like, we’re not doing a one-off, here’s one James Bond film, unconnected to every other film’.
There’s no denying that Vin Diesel is a huge star - but he’s also reportedly a little bit of a diva at times. As well as his on-set beef with the Rock, Diesel also managed to anger his PR reps to the point that they ditched the star. When working on the first Fast and the Furious, Diesel’s diva behavior came out at a press junket, when he attempted to call in ‘sick’, and then ended up showing up four hours late (seemingly completely recovered). More recently, on Fast and Furious 7, Diesel allegedly kept everyone waiting for hours, or even days, while he hung out in his trailer, and his diva antics and partying held up production on another action flick: xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage.
Maybe all that behind the scenes drama between the Rock and the other stars of the Fast and the Furious could have been avoided, if the part had gone to the actor it was originally written for!
In an interview on the set of Fast 5, Vin Diesel revealed that although the part went to the Rock, the writers had someone else in mind: Tommy Lee Jones or Josh Brolin.
‘The role was initially written for a Tommy Lee Jones/Josh Brolin… But at the same time, the studio was wanting to find somebody who would be formidable enough to, I guess, increase the legend of Dom and whatever.’ It would certainly have created a very different franchise had Brolin taken the part, and we don’t know exactly why the Rock was the one who ended up joining the cast…
There are some major names in action movies that appear in the Fast and the Furious franchise; from Vin Diesel and the Rock to Jason Statham. With the reputation that the franchise has, and the money behind it, it’s not surprising that many other major names would leap at the chance to appear in the next Fast film… except Denzel Washington. The Oscar-winning actor was reportedly approached for a part in Fast and Furious 7, which would then lead to a larger part in the next film in the franchise, but turned it down. The role itself is unspecified, so there’s no way of knowing exactly who Washington would have played, but it’s something that fans will be sad they never got to see.
It’s impossible to imagine the Fast and the Furious without Paul Walker - and his off-screen friendship with Vin Diesel is the stuff of Hollywood legends. However, Walker wasn’t the first choice to play Brian O’Conner. It turns out that there were various other big names considered before Walker was brought on board, including Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and even rapper Eminem! Somehow, we can’t imagine Eminem playing a devoted police officer, even one who is undercover… although he would fit right in with some of the other street racing scenes! While Wahlberg and Bale are also both interesting choices for the lead role, it seems obvious in hindsight that only Walker could make the Fast and the Furious as much of a classic as it is now.
Although Vin Diesel was the star of The Fast and The Furious, he didn’t actually return to the franchise until the fourth film (except for a brief cameo in Tokyo Drift).
He even turned down the princely sum of $25 million for the sequel - because he hated movie sequels.
Diesel was so happy with how the first film turned out that he didn’t want to ruin it with a second-rate follow up (although thankfully, that didn’t happen). He explains: "Sequels had gotten such a bad name and I had started to think of that first Fast and Furious as a classic, like a Rebel Without a Cause. If we sequel-ized it the way studios were doing at the time, just slapping a story together, I’d ruin the chance of that first one becoming a classic."
Diesel’s dislike of sequels and desire not to cheapen the first film by making more didn’t stop him cameoing in the third film, Tokyo Drift, but the star only agreed to this one for something that money couldn’t buy: the rights to a different movie project. Diesel wasn’t paid cash for his appearance in Tokyo Drift, and instead worked out a deal with the studio that would give him the rights to Riddick, his character in the film Pitch Black. Diesel loved the world and the character, and went on to produce and star in two more films in that universe (The Chronicles of Riddick and Riddick), with a fourth reportedly on the way (The Chronicles Of Riddick: Furia).
It’s not surprising that there are some continuity errors in a franchise this massive - it’s a little surprising that there aren’t more issues like this within the world! However, one of the most egregious issues with the franchise is a scene in which one character seems to age a decade in only a few moments, thanks to the interesting continuity. Lucas Black, who stars in Tokyo Drift as Sean, appears in Furious 7 as well - in scenes that are supposed to be in the same time period as Tokyo Drift (as the movies connect). However, because Tokyo Drift was released in 2006, and Furious 7 wasn’t released until 2015, the actor has clearly aged between the old footage and the new… and the film just kind of skims over that with no possible explanation!
If you’ve been watching the films in release order, and feeling that something just doesn’t line up, you’d be correct. The Fast and the Furious films have a slightly strange chronology, with the third film released (Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift) actually taking place after Furious 6. Fans have even noticed that Tokyo Drift and Furious 7 appear to take place at the same time - a rarity for any big franchise. To confuse things further, the post-credit scene for Furious 6 also takes place at the same time as Furious 7 and Tokyo Drift. Thankfully, though, the rest is chronological, with no other major loops in time. (Other than the magical character-aging we already covered, that is…).
It wasn’t just Hobbs and even O’Conner who were roles written for different actors than the one who eventually brought them to life. Jordana Brewster wasn’t the first choice for her role of Mia, either.
It’s rumored that Mia was originally intended for Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Eliza Dushku, but she evidently wasn’t interested.
Other actresses who auditioned for the role before Brewster was brought in include Bijou Phillips, Jessica Biel, Kirsten Dunst, Natalie Portman, and (another Buffy alum) Sarah Michelle Gellar. The production team haven’t revealed why they eventually went with Brewster for the role of Mia, but five films later, she’s clearly turned out to be the perfect choice.