Can you imagine a world where Vin Diesel wasn’t part of the “Fast and the Furious” family?
If the studio had its way, that would have been the case, as producer Neil H. Moritz revealed another actor was originally offered the role of Dominic Toretto.
“I had been working with Paul Walker on another movie, ‘Skulls,’ and I gave him the script [for The Fast and the Furious],” Moritz said on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” Wednesday. “Rob Cohen, 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. He’s a great actor. In fact, I’m curious to see what that movie would have been.”
Diesel’s name entered the picture after Olyphant turned it down, after Moritz saw his work in in “Saving Private Ryan” and “Pitch Black.”
“I went and met him at Kate Mantilini [restaurant] and he wasn’t a star yet, but the great thing about Vin is he always believed he was a star,” Moritz continued. “And I was going in there to think he’s coming to me to want the role and I’m the one there now having to convince him to do the role! Lucky for both of us that happened. And then we started to make the movie.”
While Diesel is considered the franchise’s biggest cheerleader now, he didn’t appear in the sequel and had to be talked into doing a cameo in “Tokyo Drift.”
“Fast 3 was like, what are we gonna do here? We kind of were like, what’s the impetus for us to be able to continue and what can make it fresh and what can we do?” Moritz revealed. “We felt like we had something really cool and then were were able to convince Vin to come back and do the cameo at the end of three and allowed us to go on this stratospheric ride for 4 to 8.”
“I always felt that Vin was the lifeblood of what ‘Fast and Furious’ was and I really did feel like if we were going to continue, we need to have Vin in the movie,” he continued, “and we were lucky enough to convince him why it was good for us, why it was good for him and how we could continue on if he came back.”
“The Fate of the Furious” opens Friday, April 14.