Photo: Universal Pictures
The public plea struck Johnson as an attempt at ‘manipulation’
There’s been a split in the family. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is done with the Fast and Furious franchise, making the break quite clear in a new interview with CNN.
The interview starts with Johnson taking stock of 2021, and he had a more successful year than most. Production wrapped on Black Adam back in July, a second season of Young Rock is coming, and his tequila business is selling hundreds of thousands of bottles mainly through social media, where Johnson is the most followed American man on Instagram. And that’s not even taking into account Red Notice, a movie which achieved eye-popping numbers on Netflix, despite middling reviews.
Although he still rebuffs calls to run for president, Johnson certainly talks like a politician on a number of subjects. When it comes to the current debate between in-person movies versus streaming, Johnson says that movies “done right” are “pure magic in the theaters,” but also feels strongly “that it’s our job as creators, producers and deliverers of entertainment to always take care of and go to the people.” Ultimately, “we just have to be smart, open and flexible to change and listen to what the people say they want.”
But there’s one person Johnson is no longer interested in listening to: Vin Diesel. During the interview, the topic of Diesel’s public Instagram post came up, in which Diesel said “I say this out of love … but you must show up, do not leave the franchise idle you have a very important role to play,” referring to Johnson’s character Luke Hobbs, who first appeared in Fast Five in 2011.
Johnson says he was “very surprised by Vin’s recent post. This past June, when Vin and I actually connected not over social media, I told him directly – and privately – that I would not be returning to the franchise. I was firm yet cordial with my words and said that I would always be supportive of the cast and always root for the franchise to be successful, but that there was no chance I would return. I privately spoke with my partners at Universal as well, all of whom were very supportive as they understand the problem.”
For Johnson, the post “was an example of his manipulation. I didn’t like that he brought up his children in the post, as well as Paul Walker’s death. Leave them out of it.” Diesel’s post mentions that his children refer to Johnson as “Uncle Dwayne,” and that years ago, Diesel told Johnson “I was going to fulfill my promise to Pablo” to “reach and manifest the best Fast in the finale that is 10!” “Pablo” was a nickname of Diesel’s for Walker, his co-star in the Furious franchise until his death in 2013.
“It’s unfortunate that this public dialogue has muddied the waters,” Johnson says, while wishing “former co-stars and crew members the best of luck and success.”
The tensions between Diesel and Johnson go back several entries in the franchise, most notably in 2017’s The Fate of the Furious. Crew members told the Wall Street Journal that Johnson refused to participate in a scene where he was supposed to be lying down at Diesel’s feet, demanding that he at least be sitting.
Vanity Fair has a whole rundown of the tensions on F8, which went public when Johnson posted an Instagram, 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.” TMZ later confirmed that the candy ass in question was Diesel.
While Fast & Furious 10, actually the eleventh movie in the franchise thanks to Johnson’s Hobbs & Shaw movie, will eventually come out in 2023, it won’t feature Luke Hobbs. He’s got his own road to drive down.