Fast And Furious Star Vin Diesel Wasn’t The First Choice To Play Dominic Toretto



It’s been 20 years since the first movie roared into theaters, introducing the world to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family of misfits, street racers, and an undercover cop with a heart of motor oil. The franchise nearly looked very different, though. Diesel wasn’t the first choice to play Dom. In fact, it was Deadwood star Timothy Olyphant that could have been the head of the family.

It’s been discussed before, but a new oral history of the first film from is shedding a little light on what could have been. At that time, The Fast and the Furious, which was going to be called Redline, was set in New York City, rather than the Los Angeles the Toretto family calls home.

“The studio said, ‘If you get Timothy Olyphant to play the role of Dominic Toretto, the movie’s greenlit,'” producer Neil H. Mortiz remembered. “We went to Tim and he passed, and we wondered if we were going to get to make it.”

That’s right, Olyphant decided not to take the role. So, in theory, we should probably give him some thanks. After all, what kind of world would we be living in with anyone but Diesel playing Dom? Could Olyphant have had the same kind of chemistry with Paul Walker–who was already signed on for the film?

Once Olyphant was out, Mortiz turned to Diesel. “I had seen Pitch Black and knew Vin from his earlier short film [Multi-Facial], and I had convinced the studio that he had to be the guy,” he said.

The actor, however, wasn’t as interested as you’d expect. “Before I got the script, [director] Rob [Cohen] described to me the scene of the camera going through my eyes and into the car and then the engine, merging man and machine,” Diesel recalled. “That image made me go, ‘That’s insane — I’m all in.’ And then I read the script and was like, ‘Eh, I don’t know.'”

Then, though, Erik Bergquist and David Ayer were brought in to rework the script and move it to LA. That’s when the pieces started falling into place. And according to Ayer, Diesel played a large role in shaping Dom. “I sat down with Vin and really created that character with him,” he said. “Yeah, there were characters in the script but it needed life, it needed to become real, it needed to become dimensional. He had a few really specific ideas about the character, and those little touchstones he handed me became something I could flesh out. It’s an honor to help an actor create and achieve a vision.”

Now, 20 years later, Dom isn’t just still going strong–he’s getting stronger. With each passing movie, he’s seemingly crashing a car into something bigger. And the next movie is , so clearly, even the sky is not the limit.

, otherwise known as Fast and Furious 9, is in theaters on June 25.

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