Fast & Furious star Vin Diesel wasn't the original choice to play elite street racer Dominic Toretto in the hit franchise, the producer of the eight film has revealed. Neal H. Moritz revealed on The Bill Simmons Podcast that they initially approached another actor for the role - Justified's Timothy Olyphant.
Vin Diesel, 49, has been playing the character since 2001
"I had been working with Paul Walker on another movie, Skulls, and I gave him the script [for The Fast and the Furious]," producer Neal said. "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."
Neal, who has also produced Happy! and I am Legend, explained how his first meeting with Vin Diesel unfolded. "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," Neal explained. "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."
Timothy Olyphant turned down the role
Vin Diesel, who turns 50 in July, has been playing hit charater Dom since 2001. The eight instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious, stars Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren, amongst other stars.
The Fate of the Furious marks the first film of the franchise since The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) not to star Paul Walker, who died in 2013, during the filming of Furious 7.