The Fast and Furious series is a study in underestimation and contradiction: the franchise was a critical failure until its fifth installment, and despite the franchise grossing $5 billion and boasting some of the most absurd vehicular stunts ever committed to film, its stars insist that the series all comes down to family.
Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson’s feud, which began on set and made its way into the press, is a reflection of these contradictions. Every time the book seems closed on the much-reported story, either Vin or Dwayne refuels the fire with a social media post, and it feels like we never truly know where they stand with each other.
How did this now infamous feud begin? Who, if anyone, is to blame? And why did the two action powerhouses and co-stars manage to quash their conflict— hopefully for good?
Vin Diesel’s side of the story begins in New York, where a young Vin searched for a place he could fit in as a multicultural boy passionate about acting and Dungeons & Dragons.
He found refuge in the theatre and honed his acting skills for years. Though he struggled to break into Hollywood due to his “ambiguous” background, Vin’s conviction in what he was meant to do never wavered.
I know as sure as I’m breathing, I’ll be the biggest movie star in the world. There wasn’t a hair of doubt.
Finally, in the early 2000s, Vin broke through with a string of hits: Pitch Black, XxX, and of course, The Fast and the Furious.
These roles cemented Vin as an action star with the latter film, a crime/street racing action movie, introducing him not only to his best friend, Paul Walker, but also providing him the opportunity to build himself a multi-cultural Hollywood family while developing the Fast and Furious sequels into a record-busting box office powerhouse.
Meanwhile, in Hawaii, a young Samoan-Canadian football star was torn between pursuing a pro sports career and following in his family’s footsteps as professional wrestlers.
Dwayne Johnson became known as The Rock after making his WWE debut. His theatrical personality, natural charm, and powerful physique made him one of the most popular stars in the WWE and he made his mark as one of the greatest performers in the franchise. But that wasn’t his only dream.
They said what do you want to accomplish? I said I want to accomplish the world. Because of my ambition.
In the early 2000s, Dwayne stepped away from the ring to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. He starred in several action movies, gradually working his way to the top of Hollywood over the next decade. Then the struggling Fast and Furious franchise came knocking on his door.
Dwayne Johnson’s triumphant debut as Luke Hobbs in Fast Five played a part in the movie’s smashing success at the box office and positive critical reception. He was widely credited with reviving the series that Vin had spent years building.
How to re-ignite an ageing franchise? Drop [Dwayne Johnson] on it.Empire
It seemed like the ideal partnership between action powerhouses, but behind the scenes, there was trouble in paradise.
Reports of an on-set feud between Dwayne and Vin went public after Dwayne shared a photo on Instagram with this caption about his unnamed male co-stars:
Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t.
Speculation was rampant that Dwayne was criticizing Vin and the roar only grew louder when he posted another photo that thanked members of the “Fast Fam”— except Vin.
For his part, Vin dismissed the feud as two alphas butting heads, but reports flew that Dwayne was late to set, Vin was letting his ego control his producing, and that the two refused to film scenes together on The Fate of the Furious.
It’s not always easy being an alpha. And it’s two alphas. Being an alpha is sometimes a pain.Vin Diesel, USA Today
With Dwayne’s character getting his own spinoff movie, Hobbs & Shaw, rather than appearing in the next Fast and Furious movie, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Vin and Dwayne’s rift wouldn’t be mended any time soon, but once again, the action stars did the unexpected.
Dwayne had a big summer: the premiere of Hobbs & Shaw was quickly followed by his wedding to longtime love Lauren Hashian.
Despite the stories about Vin resenting the new spinoff, Vin took time out from filming Fast & Furious 9 to congratulate Dwayne on both his successful movie and his new marriage.
“Real shoutout to Dwayne and Jason— by the way, congratulations on your wedding, Dwayne. Lauren’s a special girl and you have a beautiful family.
The man Vin’s kids call “Uncle Dwayne” responded by thanking Vin for reaching out and inviting him into the Fast Family:
I’m grateful for that invite. As you know, my goal was always, all these years, to come into the Fast & Furious world and help elevate the franchise in any way that I possibly could. If I could do that, then I’ve done my job, and now here we are 10 years later… We did it the right way, we did it the smart way, and again, brother, I appreciate your support.
Vin and Dwayne were able to put aside their pride in order to keep building something huge and record-breaking together— and always, they bring it back to the family they found along the way:
Family is gonna have differences of opinion and fundamental core beliefs. To me, conflict can be a good thing, when it’s followed by great resolution. I was raised on healthy conflict and welcome it. And like any family, we get better from it.
Vin and Dwayne’s stories mirror each other’s in many ways, but their similarities also caused them to butt heads. The resolution of their “feud” is a reminder that we should face conflict head on and grow from it however we can. Backing down from your conviction is a very different thing from backing down from your pride.
Only by setting aside their egos and putting their shared passion first were Vin and Dwayne able to move forward and expand upon their dreams.
Letting your pride rule over your drive will only hold you back. Without ego and unresolved resentment weighing you down, you’ll be able to rise higher — and faster— than you ever have before.
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