Like the symbiotic relationship between man and machine, speediness and exasperation, the sets of the Fast & Furious movies have long been noted for their spirit of bonhomie, a place where stars from all walks of life and talent levels can find common bond in making cars go very fast. So it was with a heavy, slow-sedan heart that fans recently learned that Dwayne Johnson is upset with some of his male co-stars on the upcoming Fast 8, blasting them in an Instagram post for their misbehavior and calling them cowards with asses of the purest candy. Making matters all the more distressing, Johnson refused to name names, leaving it up to us to wonder fecklessly who could have broken this sacred trust between car-buddies.
Whoever it was, they pissed off Johnson enough to break from his usual, relentlessly uplifting social media game—normally all gym pics, Pokemon Go parodies, and photos with children and HBO series in need—so that he could call them out with a finger-stabbing furor not seen since his wrestling days.
Beneath a video of him throwing a stuntman against a wall to the strains of Kid Rock—the music of professionalism—Johnson begins by singing the praises of Fast 8, saying, “There’s no other franchise that gets my blood boiling more than this one.” He then adds, “When you watch this movie next April and it seems like I’m not acting in some of these scenes and my blood is legit boiling—you’re right.” But not the good kind of blood boiling that comes from successful derivations of an original work of media. The bad kind that comes from working with candy asses.
Johnson’s post excludes all of his female co-stars, so Michelle Rodriguez, Elsa Pataky, Charlize Theron, and Helen Mirren are all safe, with regular asses. The crew is “hard working” and Universal is “great,” so that also rules out everyone in labor and management. The problem, therefore, lies with one of the following men. Let’s see if we can figure it out.
Johnson has been working with the series’ lynchpin star since Fast Five, and according to a 2011 interview, they’ve known each other “for a long time” and had talked for years about doing something where they could finally be bald and muscular together. It seems strange that ties that deep could be severed so quickly. Verdict: NOT A CANDY ASS
Gibson and Johnson also go way back to Fast Five, and while there’s been some—completely dubious—rumors that Gibson resents Johnson for leading the charge in “light skin brothers” getting all the good roles, and Gibson could possibly still hold a grudge against Johnson for improvising his “big-ass forehead” crack in Fast & Furious 6, come on … that all seems pretty unlikely. Furthermore, in a 2014 interview with Iron Man Magazine, Gibson acknowledges that Johnson is “on another level of fitness” and very, very big (“I don’t think the average guy desires to be that big”), and certainly he would not want to piss off a man that big over a forehead joke. Also, Johnson has called Gibson and Ludacris his “boys.” Verdict: PROBABLY NOT A CANDY ASS
Speaking of Ludacris, the rapper-actor recently made his own Instagram post directed at people who are “still complaining,” “still making excuses,” and “still living in the past.”
You could certainly read that as a subtle nod to tension on the set, which would suggest that, whatever the source of the problem, Ludacris is on Johnson’s side. Or it could just be another typical post from Ludacris, who posts enough funny and “inspirational” memes to fill the Facebook pages of five lonely aunts. Either way, Verdict: NOT A CANDY ASS, EXCEPT IN THAT LAST RESPECT
Statham and Johnson have only been working together since Furious 7, so they’ve had the least amount of time to forge a relationship. Still, even though Johnson once told MTV that he could easily whip Jason Statham’s ass in a fight (as did Ludacris; come on now, Ludacris), they seem to share a mutual respect, and Statham has called Johnson a “really cool character.” Plus there’s all these photos of Statham and Johnson hugging and pulling complicated handshakes. You don’t learn a complex handshake with a guy you don’t like. Verdict: NOT A CANDY ASS
Hivju, who reportedly plays Charlize Theron’s henchman, is better known as Game Of Thrones’ Tormund Giantsbane and is therefore NOT A CANDY ASS.
No. Verdict: IS KURT FUCKING RUSSELL.
Black is returning to the franchise after appearing only in The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift and a small cameo in Furious 7. To Johnson and most of the rest of the cast, he’s an outlier—an old-timer who’s being reintroduced to a film series that’s come a long way without him, even as he might still have ideas about how things used to be done. So it’s entirely possible that Black’s gotten on Johnson’s nerves with all his “Well, actually, when we were doing Drift …” talk, or his insistence on “bringing more Tokyo Drifting back to the ol’ repertoire.” On the other hand, by all accounts, Black is a genial Southern boy who loves God and golfing, and he’s been in the business since he was 12 years old, so one would think he’s learned some professionalism by now. Verdict: PROBABLY NOT A CANDY ASS.
Here’s where we really start getting into it. Almost immediately after Johnson’s post, the internet seemed convinced that he had to be talking about young Eastwood, scion of Clint, video love interest of Taylor Swift. After all, Eastwood’s limited resume and privileged upbringing would seem to point to him as green, unprofessional, and possibly given to whining. There’s also the fact that Brad Pitt told British GQ that he and Shia LaBeouf almost came to blows with Eastwood on the set of Fury—and even though Pitt admitted that they’d wrongly accused him and “we were the knobs in the end,” the fact remains that there’s something about Eastwood that’s clearly off-putting.
Suspiciously, Eastwood also calls out “candy asses” (amid his father’s own chest-puffing about “pussies”) in their recent joint Esquire interview, and he talked about how the other Fast 8 actors went back to their trailers between takes while he hung around the director “to learn.” So maybe Johnson got wind of that article and didn’t like the not-so-subtle dig at the rest of the cast.
But then again, Eastwood’s also sucked up to Johnson plenty, even turning up to support him at the recent premiere of Central Intelligence. Meanwhile, Johnson has very recently referred to him as a “great dude.” Then again again, that was several weeks ago. That’s plenty of time for Eastwood to get on Johnson’s nerves, the way he seemingly has everyone else, for reasons they cannot fully articulate. Verdict: VERY POSSIBLE CANDY ASS, AND DEFINITELY THE MOST SATISFYING ANSWER FOR SOME STRANGE AND INEFFABLE REASON—JUST SOMETHING ABOUT HIM.
Of course, it could also be someone else we’re not aware of—some random tertiary character, a car that’s always laughing at Johnson, his own reflection caught in a stream. But the uncharacteristically public way in which he’s called them out suggests that it’s someone slightly more noteworthy. Regardless, this story seems destined to underscore all of Fast 8’s upcoming publicity tour until someone finally spills who it is. After all, how is anyone supposed to enjoy two hours of dudes punching and insulting each other, knowing that beneath it all they’re not really best friends?