The late Paul Walker has spoken and we are not here to make light of it. Walker, who starred in six of the first seven Fast & Furious films (he was absent in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Vin Diesel only made a brief cameo), tragically died in a single-car crash in which he was the passenger. But Vin Diesel says it was Walker who told him to hire John Cena as Diesel’s character Dom’s brother Jacob.
Vin Diesel was out and about, appearing at an event that was promoting the new trailer for the upcoming F9 movie when he opened up to those in attendance about a casting decision he had to make for the movie. The decision concerned Cena and how he arrived at the decision, with all the credit given to the late Walker.
Vin Diesel said, via CinemaBlend, “I remember once we started getting closer to production, Justin (Lin) and I would talk about how harrowing it would be to actually cast a new Toretto. The brother of Toretto. There’s so many different directions you could go. And I remember John Cena coming into this Dom Shrine that I had where I would kind of go to meditate and train and start getting into that Dom state of mind. And I remember John coming in and… call this crazy, but I remember feeling as though Pablo, Paul Walker, had sent him in. I remember talking to Justin that night and saying, ‘My gut and my heart feels like this was meant to be.’”
For his part, Cena knew full and well the importance of the role and his responsibility when he took on the part. “I certainly didn’t overlook the responsibility of the opportunity…I get to reap the rewards of this family who has supported the foundation and built the structure of a global-delivering blockbuster, and I get invited into the ninth installment to share the last name Toretto, to be Dom’s greatest adversary of all time,” Cena said via LADBible. “That is not lost.” Cena then went on to explain how he was able to forge a great relationship with Vin Diesel. “I was grateful enough to develop a relationship with Vin and Vin was gracious enough to give me a chance. I forever thank him, I always do for betting on me, I remember telling him a long time ago I wouldn’t let him down. I love the body of work that’s been established and it’s an honor… it’s memories I’ll remember forever.”
When Walker was tragically killed in the auto accident, filming was not complete on Furious 7. This prompted director James Wan and writer Chris Morgan to go back to the drawing board. The production was delayed while the two worked out just how they were going to continue on without Walker. It took the duo a little time to work out all the kinks of the sad loss, but they were able to stitch together a believable story that needed another eight weeks of filming to complete. To complete Walker’s character Brian O’Conner’s story, Wan hired Caleb and Cody Walker, both Paul’s brothers, to stand in for him. Their strong resemblance to their brother made creating the VFX for Paul much easier to accomplish.
John Cena coming on board does not represent the only big name the Fast & Furious franchise has seen. The two big names that come to mind immediately are Dwayne Johnson (along with his famous feud with Vin Diesel) and Jason Statham. Of course, the pair eventually went off to do their own thing in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw to great success. But others who have been involved in the popular franchise include Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Gal Gadot, and Charlize Theron, who looks to reprise her role as the big bad Cipher. This time, it appears she is going to use the assassin and Dom’s brother Jacob in an attempt to try to take him down.
Director Justin Lin is returning to the director’s chair for F9. He previously worked on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6. Not only will Lin serve as the director, but he also co-wrote the script with Daniel Casey.
As F9 was being put together, it was also announced that Lin will be on board for the tenth and eleventh film in the series with the two movies bringing an end to the franchise that began twenty years ago. The main cast, which includes Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, and Jordana Brewster all are signed on for the final two films. Given the secrecy behind F9, it is unknown who else will be making their appearances in F10 and F11. Will Dwayne Johnson return? The feud, which had both Diesel and Johnson going toe-to-toe over social media, appears to have been squashed, so anything is possible at this point.
Maybe Vin Diesel is waiting for a little more divine intention from Walker before he decides on how he wants to move forward. One thing is for certain though, the series lost a whole bunch when Walker tragically passed.
F9 is scheduled to hit movie theaters on June 25, 2021. Its second trailer can be seen below.