Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto is undeniably the heart of the Fast and Furious franchise, but according to a new interview with the franchise’s producer, he wasn’t supposed to be in the movie to begin with.
Neil H. Moritz told The Ringer’s Bill Simmons that he had been in contact with Paul Walker, who played Brian O’Connor in seven of the eight films before his death in 2013, about the concept for The Fast and Furious. When they brought the idea to Universal, the studio said that if they got Timothy Olyphant — best known for his work in Deadwood and Justified — they would green light the movie.
“The luckiest thing that ever happened to us is Tim Olyphant turned us down,” Moritz said. “He’s a great actor. In fact, I’m curious to see what that movie would have been.”
Diesel was the second choice for the movie, but it was ultimately the better decision for the franchise. Diesel has become the face of the series and spent endless hours trying to get Universal to continue the franchise up until the fifth installment, which became a financial and critical turning point for the films.
Diesel is expected to be in the next two Fast and Furious installments, rounding out the new trilogy that begins with the The Fate of the Furious, but it’s unclear if he’ll continue his role in potential spinoffs that Universal is exploring. The studio hasn’t committed to any films or projects beyond the tenth and final Fast and Furious movie.
The eighth film in the franchise, The Fate of the Furious, will be released on April 14.