The Fast, the Furious and All of the Feuds
As “Fast X” races into theaters, here’s a look at the conflicts — star vs. star, star vs. director and more — that have kept this franchise in high gear.
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By Calum Marsh
Over the course of more than 20 years of the “Fast and Furious” — the 10th in the franchise, “Fast X,” arrives this weekend — battles have been fought, villains have been overcome, friends have become foes and lovers have been reunited. (There was even a case of alignment-altering amnesia.)
Behind the scenes, though, the conflicts have been no less fractious, with stars variously attacking the producers, their castmates and the franchise itself. With so much drama onscreen and off, it can be difficult to keep track of who has feuded and who is still feuding. So in honor of “Fast X,” here’s a guide to the beefs of the “Fast and the Furious.”
Brian vs. Dom
The series of explosive, high-octane blockbusters involving international espionage and elaborate multimillion-dollar heists began with “The Fast and the Furious,” a relatively straightforward 2001 crime thriller about an undercover cop trying to bust a Los Angeles street racing ring. The cop was Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and his quarry was the brawny, mysterious Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). The pair faced off on the road, as uneasy friends turned enemies on opposite sides of the law, until their reconciling in an extravagant show of mutual respect. In the aftermath, Brian and Dom teamed up, stealing supercars and helping the feds as demanded by various plot turns.
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel vs. the Producers
After the success of “The Fast and the Furious,” Diesel turned down at least $20 million to appear in the 2003 sequel, leaving Walker to reprise his role in “2 Fast 2 Furious” without his co-star. A third film, “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” starred neither, which Walker attributed to “politics, studio stuff, a regime decision” (though Diesel did make a cameo appearance). By the time a fourth film was proposed, Walker felt he was finished with the franchise: He told The Los Angeles Times that he found the material “stale” and questioned “if there was even an audience anymore” for another movie. It took Diesel to persuade him to put his reservations aside and sign on. “I thought, ‘Why not?’” Walker said.
Dom and Brian vs. Hobbs
With “Fast Five” (2011), the street-racing franchise transformed into a heist flick: Brian, Dom and the rest of their fast-driving crew head to Rio de Janeiro to steal a safe full of cash from a nefarious drug kingpin. In hot pursuit is the big-biceped Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), an agent with the Diplomatic Security Service whose motor skills rival Brian and Dom’s. They have no choice but to put up a fight — a conflict resolved in later films when Hobbs joins their team.
Dwayne Johnson vs. Vin Diesel
In summer 2016, toward the end of production on the eighth installment, “The Fate of the Furious,” Johnson surprised fans when he appeared to criticize the cast: “My female co-stars are amazing and I love ’em. My male co-stars however are a different story,” he wrote in a now-deleted caption on Instagram. “Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t,” adding some colorful expletives denigrating the men. Many assumed he was calling out Diesel — a hunch later confirmed by both actors, who said they did not share any scenes together. Johnson has since slammed Diesel as “manipulative,” and he did not appear in “F9” or “Fast X.”
Letty vs. the Crew
Dom’s wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), died in the fourth entry, “Fast & Furious” (2009), at the hands of a drug lord and his right-hand man during an undercover bust gone wrong. But she made a dramatic — if somewhat far-fetched — return two films later, revealed to have survived the explosion that seemed to kill her but suffering from amnesia. She spends the bulk of “Fast & Furious 6” (2013) on the villains’ side, fighting Dom and the crew without remembering who they are, until she’s won over by the sight of a precious heirloom. Dom works to restore Letty’s memory throughout “Furious 7.”
Shaw (and Shaw) vs. the Crew
The antagonist of “Furious 6” is the nefarious British agent Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), a hardened, elite soldier ultimately defeated by Dom and his crew. “Furious 7” (2015) introduces a brother out for revenge: one Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the more ruthless sibling, who wants blood after our heroes landed Owen in a coma. Deckard has had wavering allegiances throughout the films, occasionally teaming up with Dom and company and, in the spinoff “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” partnering with Johnson’s Shaw in a classic buddy action scenario.
Tyrese Gibson vs Dwayne Johnson
After the public remarks by Johnson about his male co-stars, Tyrese Gibson — who has appeared in seven “Fast and Furious” movies as the fan favorite Roman Pearce — seemed to turn on his fellow actor. On Instagram, he appeared to object to Johnson making the 2019 spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw,” claiming that Johnson “purposely ignored the heart-to-heart” they had by moving forward with it, and that by refusing to appear in subsequent “Fast” films with Diesel and others, he “really broke up the #FastFamily.” Johnson never responded, and in late 2020, Gibson said that the two had “peaced up” and resolved the dispute.
Michelle Rodriguez vs. the Franchise
2001: After signing on to play the female lead in the original “Fast and the Furious,” Rodriguez vociferously objected to her character’s intended role as the trophy girlfriend, demanding that the filmmakers rewrite Letty to be more independent-minded. She particularly took issue with a story line that put her in a love triangle with Dom and Brian: “I basically cried and said I’m going to quit,” she told The Daily Beast in 2015. Her objections were taken seriously, and ultimately the love triangle was scrapped and the character changed.
2017: In an Instagram post to mark the digital release of “Fate of the Furious,” Rodriguez made the surprising announcement that she “just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise,” unless “they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one.” Happily, Rodriguez committed to reprising her role in “F9” (2021) and beyond after reaching an agreement with Universal that brought on a female screenwriter.
Justin Lin vs. Vin Diesel
The director Justin Lin, who had previously helmed five of the “Fast” movies, was set to direct the latest entry, “Fast X,” but dramatically quit after shooting began. According to The Hollywood Reporter, heavy-handed studio notes, changing locations and near-constant updates to the screenplay contributed to the creative conflicts that sent Lin packing, but the final straw was a meeting with Diesel, who had some notes of his own. The meeting is alleged to have ended with a slammed door and Lin’s stepping down. Diesel obliquely acknowledged the conflict in an interview with Total Film, saying, “It wasn’t an easy time,” and adding, “Nothing but love for Justin, and nothing but gratitude for the work that he did to get us to that first week of filming.” The replacement director, Louis Leterrier, said in that interview that when he took over, he asked, “‘OK, what did Justin do? Can I see storyboards? Can I see shot lists?’ I took it all in. And then you find your bearings, and it becomes yours.”
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