Breaking Down Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Years Long Feud

(Johnson later responded: “I have one big brother and it’s my half brother. And that’s it.”)

Diesel described the high-powered star duo as “two alphas,” and that’s probably a lot of what this boils down to. Diesel had been the anchor of the F&F franchise since it began in 2001, a duty he shared with Paul Walker until his death in 2013. But adding a star of Johnson’s magnitude–he’s been the highest paid actor in the industry the last two years–has the potential to cause a certain amount of friction.

After the massive success of Hobbs & Shaw, the franchise’s first-ever spinoff film, Johnson posted a sweat-soaked video on Instagram where he thanked Diesel by name for supporting the film. It seemed like a period of Dwayne-Diesel détente was upon us.

But a 2018 Rolling Stone Johnson cover story unearthed the detail that the two didn’t shoot any of their scenes in Fate together. Johnson further explained that they have “a fundamental difference in philosophies on how we approach moviemaking and collaborating,” and that, at the time, he was unsure whether he would rejoin the franchise. He said the pair had an important conversation in his trailer.

He also said he held “no ill will” for Diesel, but then walked that statement back with what the writer described as a “big, sly laugh.”

Diesel spoke at length about the pair in a June cover story for Men’s Health, in a way that seemed pretty dismissive of Johnson’s acting bona fides, explaining that he needed to give Johnson “a lot of tough love” to get the performance to the right place.

“As a producer to say, Okay, we’re going to take Dwayne Johnson, who’s associated with wrestling, and we’re going to force this cinematic world, audience members, to regard his character as someone that they don’t know—Hobbs hits you like a ton of bricks,” Diesel said.

Beyond the Rock stuff, Diesel also gave a memorable quote about his mentality as a producer (he’s held that role in every F&F film since 2009’s Fast & Furious).

“Not Felliniesque, but I would do anything I’d have to do in order to get performances in anything I’m producing,” he added.

Perhaps the most comprehensive insight into the Johnson-Diesel drama came in an October 12 Vanity Fair interview with the Jumanji star. According to the piece, Johnson agreed to do the eighth film with the stipulation that he and Diesel have no scenes together (“I thought that was the best thing to do. For everybody,” he said).

Johnson stood by his sentiment and implied that a large number of crew members privately said they agreed with him, though he did acknowledge that sharing his thoughts via social media “was not the right thing to do.”

He elaborated on the discussion the pair had in his Fast 8 trailer. “I wouldn’t call it a peaceful meeting. I would call it a meeting of clarity,” he said. Johnson also elaborated on the philosophical differences he has with Diesel in a way that felt undeniably shady.

“It’s the philosophy of going into work every day. Looking at everybody as equal partners. And looking at the studio as equal partners. And looking at the crew, regardless of where you’re at, either on the call sheet or otherwise, as equal partners—with respect and with humility, and being respectful of the process and every other human being who is putting in just as much time, just as much hard work and sweat equity, if not more,” he explained.

There are two more installments of the franchise, which will be shot back to back and are tentatively due out in February 2023 and February 2024, per Diesel. That means a lot of long hours on set, ages for the Johnson-Diesel beef to slow cook, and plenty of time for fans of the franchise to worry about whether two of its key figures will appear together.

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