For all the propulsive, physics-defying feats of the Fast & Furious franchise, the gargantuan undertaking of quelling the bubbling egos of its stars may be the most impressive. #CandyAssGate, the ongoing feud between Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has been the stuff of legend since the Rock called Xander Cage himself a “candy ass” on Instagram. But, to the “not Felliniesque” Vin Diesel, it was his “tough love” approach to producing that got The Rock’s performance “where it needed to be,” so maybe The Rock should thank him?
In a profile with Men’s Health, per IndieWire, the model for Stanislavskian method acting, Vin Diesel, says that he needed to get in there and pull Hobbs out of the Rock for the franchise. By the sounds of it, he has no regrets.
“It was a tough character to embody, the Hobbs character,” Vin Diesel said. “My approach at the time was a lot of tough love to assist in getting that performance where it needed to be. 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.’”
Luke Hobbs, of course, is a U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agent on the hunt for Dominic Toretto, Diesel’s Robin Hood street racer. And the character that Diesel had to exorcise from Johnson’s core was that of a “big boy with big arms that could beat up Vin Diesel but not beat him too badly.” The proof is in the pudding because he does beat him up pretty well in some of these movies. Although, that’s a pretty dismissive way to talk about The Rock, who by 2011 had already been acting for a decade by the time he pulled into Casa de Diesel (not to mention a lifetime cutting some of the best wrestling promos in the biz). This wasn’t good enough for Diesel, who goes out of his way to namecheck Federico Fellini when discussing his producing process, which says everything you need to hear about how much dang confidence this dude has.
“Hobbs hits you like a ton of bricks,” he said. “That’s something that I’m proud of, that aesthetic. That took a lot of work. We had to get there and sometimes, at that time, I could give a lot of tough love. Not Felliniesque, but I would do anything I’d have to do in order to get performances in anything I’m producing.”
Weirdly enough, almost anyone on Earth would describe the seething tension between Hobbs and Torreto as Felliniesque, a blend of baroque and dreamlike images that transcend the bounds of traditional cinema. But apparently, just having the same number of punches as Vin wasn’t enough to rope The Rock into appearing in the latest mainline F&F movie. Or, maybe, just maybe, he’s waiting for Vin to call and goad him again; get him where he needs to be, that sort of thing.
F9: The Fast Saga parks its Felliniesque ass in theaters on Friday.