Actor Vin Diesel reveals John Cena’s casting for Fast & Furious 9. In a video clip posted to Instagram, Diesel discusses his spiritual connection to the late Paul Walker, who starred in the first six franchise films and then welcomes Cena into the family.
In 2001, Universal Pictures released The Fast and the Furious, a crime action film in which Walker’s Brian Conner infiltrates a Los Angeles car hijacking organization run by Diesel’s Dominic Toretto. The first franchise film was directed by Rob Cohen, based on a script that was co-written by David Ayer (Suicide Squad). Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster rounded out the main cast, and reprised their roles in subsequent instalments. Produced for $38 million, The Fast and the Furious made over $207 million at the box office and inspired seven sequels. Diesel has previously stated that the franchise will end after the 10th film, with the ninth set to release on May 22, 2020. In the upcoming spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their franchise roles. Last January, Johnson confirmed that he won’t appear in Fast & Furious 9.
On Instagram, Diesel revealed the Cena casting news with an emotional video post that’s captioned with “Thank you Pablo.” In the clip, Diesel’s appearance resembles his iconic franchise character, as filming was reportedly scheduled to begin on April 20. The actor states that he’s “always thinking fast,” and discusses his intention to make something “iconic.” From there, Diesel talks about the aforementioned Walker, and how “Pablo” seems to send people into his life “every blue moon.” Diesel briefly pauses to collect his thoughts, and references “another soldier for the fight for truth.” He ultimately reveals that somebody “came by Toretto Gym,” with Cena then making a silent appearance, albeit with a grin and a wink of the eye. Diesel ends the clip by stating “all love, always.”
In 2013, Walker was killed in a car accident at the age of 40. Upon his death, Walker’s brothers were used as stand-ins to complete filming for Furious 7, a James Wan-directed film that was produced for $190 million and made over $1.5 billion theatrically. In 2017, F. Gary Gray directed The Fate of the Furious, which marked yet another franchise hit. Justin Lin will direct Fast & Furious 9, this coming after he previously helmed four of the franchise’s films.
For Fast & Furious 9, John Cena’s casting will undoubtedly fill a void left by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Both have universal fan bases thanks to their pro wrestling careers, and both have successfully transitioned into A-list feature film stars. But whereas Johnson brings the brawn and big comedic lines, Cena has displayed his ability to balance a physical presence with oddball comedy. Based on Cena’s appearance in Diesel’s Instagram video, his Fast & Furious 9 character appears to be more of a screwball than a traditional hero.