There was originally a very different actor in line to play Vin Diesel's character in Fast & Furious
Fast & Furious 8 is in cinemas now, and seeing just how huge a series it has become only becomes all the weirder when you realise that one of the lead characters could have been so, so different.
Vin Diesel is now 100% synonymous with the franchise, making the character of Dom Toretto entirely his own, having appeared in seven of the eight movies so far - he ditched 2 Fast 2 Furious to go make xXx instead.
In a parallel universe, Diesel's career might be completely different, had the studio gotten their way. Neil H. Moritz has been a producer on the series since their conception, and he told The Bill Simmons Podcast who they had in mind instead:
“I had been working with Paul Walker on another movie, Skulls, and I gave him the script [for The Fast and the Furious]. 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.”
That's right. Deadwood / Justified star Timothy Olyphant as Dom Toretto. It would have been a lot more psychologically intense, that's for sure.
Clip via lungbutter
“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."
"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.”
It wasn't like Diesel had been plucked from nothing - before the first F&F he already had Pitch Black, Iron Giant, Saving Private Ryan and Boiler Room under his belt - but would he be the star he is today had Olyphant taken the part instead?
There but for the grace of God...
Clip via Fast and Furious