Vin Diesel Reveals He Considered Exiting the First Fast & Furious Film Due to Disappointment with the Initial Script
Vin Diesel’s journey to becoming a household name in the massively successful film franchise almost never happened. In a recent appearance on Entertainment Weekly’s Binge podcast, released on Friday, Vin Diesel revealed that he came perilously close to backing out of the first Fast & Furious film due to concerns about the early draft of the screenplay.
Initially, Vin Diesel wasn’t even the studio’s first choice for the lead role of Dominic Toretto in the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious. The studio had originally considered Timothy Olyphant from Justified for the part. However, Universal eventually shifted its focus to Diesel, who had already proven himself in a significant film with the studio.
Reflecting on how he got involved in the project, Diesel shared, “Universal ended up being involved in the release of Pitch Black, the only other movie I had done of that size, and so they said, ‘We got this movie that’s about illegal street car racing, and we want you to play this character, who’s a tough guy, outlaw, with a heart and a code.’ Then they described that scene you see in the first movie, where the camera goes through my eye and down my arm and into the engine, and that’s the only thing they described. And I said, ‘Yes, I’m in!’”
Despite initially be ing sold on the concept, Diesel’s confidence wavered once he had the opportunity to read the script. He admitted feeling conflicted because the script didn’t live up to his expectations. However, the situation took a positive turn when David Ayer, the writer of the Oscar-winning film Training Day (and later director of the critically acclaimed film Suicide Squad), was assigned to rewrite the screenplay. A conversation with Ayer helped alleviate Diesel’s concerns.
Diesel shared his gratitude for Ayer’s perspective, stating, “The irony is, I felt like I had gotten what the character wanted to be in the first script, but I felt there were things conflicting with this truth — and that’s where David came in. I remember him saying, ‘The Dom character is so complex, I’ve never seen anything like it since Alonzo [Denzel Washington’s Oscar-winning role in Training Day].’ I appreciated that he was able to see the complexities of the character… And some other characters needed some fine-tuning as well, like the Letty character. I’m just so lucky they were open to it all and that they really wanted me to feel great and confident about it.”
Diesel acknowledged that such care and trust in an actor were not the norm in Hollywood. He recognized that his Hollywood story had never followed the typical path.
Notably, Vin Diesel also shared a heartfelt anecdote about his late friend and co-star Paul Walker, who tragically passed away in a car accident before the completion of filming on Furious 7 in 2015. During their time together, Diesel and Walker had traveled to Mexico for MTV Spring Break prior to the release of The Fast and the Furious. At the airport, Walker suggested they fly commercial on their way back instead of opting for a private jet. It was during this trip that Diesel realized the magnitude of the fame that awaited him.
Recalling the moment, Diesel said, “And I’ll never forget this: We’re sitting on the floor of this airport, bags to the side, legs stretched out, thousands of people walking by, walking over us. Now he had already had some films out, so he was a little more familiar with what was to come, and he said, ‘Vin, take all of this in. Take in the fact that all these people are just walking by us.’ I said, ‘Why,’ and he said, ‘Because when this movie comes out, our anonymity will be gone.’ It was so