Timothy Olyphant Says He Was The First Choice For Vin Diesel’s Best Role

By Sean Thiessen | Published

Timothy Olyphant

The big screen’s biggest family almost had a different man at the head. While talking with Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, actor Timothy Olyphant recalled that he was once up for the part of Dominic Toretto in 2001’s The Fast and the Furious. Olyphant admitted that Vin Diesel, who ultimately won the part, was likely a much better choice.

In an incredible Hollywood What If?, Timothy Olyphant revealed he was up for role of Dominic Toretto in The Fast and the Furious, which went to Vin Diesel.

Horowitz asked Timothy Olyphant if he believed that, had he been cast as Dom, the Fast & Furious franchise would still be going. Olyphant replied, “I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt that no, they would not, no.”

Though Timothy Olyphant has not seen the Fast & Furious films, he knows that the gravitas of Vin Diesel is crucial to the success of the series. “… [H]e’s just unlike anything out there,” Olyphant said. “I remember thinking, ‘I can’t make this work.’ I was like, ‘Why would I be in this?’”

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Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious

Timothy Olyphant may have passed on a lucrative opportunity when he turned down The Fast & the Furious, but the franchise’s longevity and musclebound evolution owes a lot to Diesel. The star began producing the franchise’s films in 2009, and his passion has remained a driving force for the series.

It is strange to picture anyone, but Vin Diesel at the heart of the Fast & Furious films, and Timothy Olyphant seems like an especially odd fit. He may have worked in the first film, but the over-the-top identity of the franchise today is defined largely by Vin Diesel.

“I remember thinking, ‘I can’t make this work.’ I was like, ‘Why would I be in this?

Timothy Olyphant on The Fast and the Furious

Timothy Olyphant also spilled the beans on his bid for Captain Kirk in 2009’s Star Trek reboot. He recalled that he had initially auditioned with director J.J. Abrams for the role of Dr. McCoy. Olyphant said Abrams was lovely during the audition, informing Olyphant that he already had a doctor picked out, but he was struggling to find a Kirk.

Olyphant was in the mix for the role of the Enterprise captain, but eventually received a call that the team had gone a different direction with the younger Chris Pine. Timothy Olyphant later met Chris Pine and became a fan, not only of Pine as an actor, but as a person.

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Timothy Olyphant in Hitman

While the Fast & Furious franchise raced on without Timothy Olyphant, the actor has put together a successful career without it. In 2004, he boarded the critically acclaimed western HBO series Deadwood, and in 2007 he appeared in the movie adaptation of Hitman. That role, as Josh Horowitz noted, was originally intended for Vin Diesel.

Timothy Olyphant is best known for his leading role in the hit FX series Justified. From 2010 to 2015, Olyphant played the show’s main character, Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal who skates on the edge of morality to bring justice to his hometown.

Olyphant appeared on Happy Sad Confused (before the SAG-AFTRA strike) to promote Justified: City Primeval, a miniseries spin-off of Justified that sends Givens to the mean streets of Detroit to track down a dangerous criminal.

Timothy Olyphant did star in 2007’s Hitman as Agent 47, a role that at one time, was meant for Vin Diesel.

Though Timothy Olyphant has succeeded as a movie star, his work in TV has defined his career. He appeared in Star Wars shows The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, The Good Place, Fargo, and Daisy Jones & the Six.

Somewhere in the multiverse, there is a version of The Fast and the Furious that stars Timothy Olyphant. While the franchise would almost certainly not be what it is today, it is fascinating to think about what could have been.

Olyphant himself does not think it would have worked, but admits that show business is unpredictable. “I felt the same thing when I was doing Hitman, and there I was getting paid, so f*ck, who knows?”