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F9 Dom and the family lined up in front of colored smoke

Almost 20 years of history have passed in Universal’s The Fast and The Furious movies, starting with 2001’s The Fast and The Furious. So naturally, there’s a lot of fun behind the scenes facts that have floated around in the years that have built the Fast Saga into the epically statured series it has become. And wow, when you take a look at them all together, you can see a big picture of what might have been if a couple things had played out differently.

The twists and curves that The Fast and The Furious movies have navigated all lead to the list of trivia points you’re about to dig into. Like any good story, our journey begins at the very beginning of this storied history, with a very different person in mind for the role of Dominic Toretto.

Santa Clarita Diet Timothy Olyphant with a wild eyed expression.

Dominic Toretto Was Almost Played By A Very Different Actor

Could you believe that back in those early days of The Fast and The Furious history, Timothy Olyphant was the original choice to play Dominic Toretto? That’s not in any way an insult to one of the stars of Justified and Santa Clarita Diet, but after close to two decades with Vin Diesel in the role, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the driver’s seat.

As Universal apparently wanted Olyphant cast in The Fast and The Furious in order to make it a go picture, the actor turned it down because, quite simply, it wasn’t his thing. In fact, he couldn’t imagine the Fast Saga ever stretching to the extent that it has today, with 9 sequels and at least one planned when all is said and done. Which is funny, because Vin Diesel couldn’t see that happening himself in the early days.

The Fast and The Furious Vin Diesel standing in the streets

Vin Diesel Originally Wasn’t On Board For Fast & Furious Becoming A Franchise

After making The Fast and The Furious, Vin Diesel initially passed on returning to the role of Dominic Toretto ever again. As celebrations for the success of the first film led to initial discussions about 2 Fast 2 Furious, Diesel was passionate about not making, what he felt, was an unnecessary sequel.

$25 million and the only Fast Saga film that Vin Diesel never had a part of later, Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner would find a new partner in Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce, and the family for the series would expand. Though, as we all eventually know, Diesel’s Dom would return to the series, and it was for a pretty interesting reason.

Riddick Vin Diesel fixes his goggles

Thank Riddick For Bringing Vin Diesel Back To The Fast And Furious Franchise

If it wasn’t for the fact that Vin Diesel wanted to revive one of his personal favorite characters from the jaws of obscurity, The Fast and The Furious series may have never gotten Dominic Toretto back on the big screen. So you can thank Riddick, and his once and future Chronicles, for getting Dom back into the swing of things.

As Diesel wanted to outright own the rights to Riddick, after The Chronicles of Riddick’s box office failure looked like the end of the road for the Pitch Black character, a deal was struck. In exchange for the rights to the character, Dominic Toretto would ride again in a cameo at the end of The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, challenging Lucas Black’s Sean Boswell to a race. With the Fast Saga then bringing Dom back full time in the next film, and Riddick eventually scoring another hit for Diesel’s beloved character in 2009, everyone walked away happy and history was made.

Fast Five Paul Walker and Vin Diesel ready to bail out of a car

Even Paul Walker Almost Quit The Fast Saga

Vin Diesel wasn’t the only integral cast member of The Fast and The Furious family to think about dropping from the series before it had run its course. The late Paul Walker, even in the wake of Fast Five reinventing the series, was questioning whether or not the franchise had staying power past that point.

Thankfully, for the Fast Saga and everyone involved in its production and fandom, Walker maintained his role as Brian O’Conner until his untimely death during the production of Furious 7. But one has to wonder what The Fast and The Furious movies would have looked like if Brian had picked up stakes and left after that Brazilian gig.

F9 Sung Kang emerges from a tunnel, eating

Justin Lin And Sung Kang Consider A Previous Film They Worked On Fast Saga Canon

Part of how The Fast and The Furious saga works so beautifully is the fact that there’s a strong core of adventures that tell a consistent story. And that continuity came from the fact that director Justin Lin helmed the most consecutive entries in the series, starting with The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift and temporarily ending with Fast & Furious 6.

Much like Sung Kang’s Han Lue, Lin is returning for F9, as the pair are ready to reintegrate Han for the first time since his death in the Fast Saga timeline. A thread that, if you go by both Lin and Kang’s viewpoint on things, started in the 2002 film Better Luck Tomorrow; the movie that technically originated Han’s character. Just a little something to think about when you plan your next viewing of The Fast and Furious series.

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Men In Black III Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones stand in a doorway

Luke Hobbs Was Almost Played By A Very Different Actor

Much like Dominic Toretto was almost played by Timothy Olyphant, there was a pretty different actor being considered when the character of Luke Hobbs was being written for his Fast Saga debut in Fast Five. In an alternate timeline, somewhere in the vast fabric of our universe, Academy Award winner, and all around hardcase, Tommy Lee Jones would have been the man that chased Dom and his family down during their fight against the Reyes crime cartel.

The big switch came, according to Vin Diesel, when fans had suggested Dwayne Johnson for a role in The Fast and The Furious’ fourth sequel. One thing led to another, and instead of the taciturn Jones being brought into the fold, Johnson was put on the tracks to franchise history, and everything that came with it.

Fast & Furious 6 Jason Statham making a call

Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw Was Planned To Debut As Early As Fast Five

You can’t think of Hobbs without thinking of Deckard Shaw. They made a whole movie proving that fact, as Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw raced into theaters last summer, making good on the insane chemistry that Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson had shared as The Fate of The Furious scene partners.

But if the Fast Saga masterminds had their way, Statham’s baddie would have been introduced as early as the post-credits scene of Fast Five. It wouldn’t be too much longer after that moment before Jason Statham’s Shaw brother would be in the mix, as Fast & Furious 6 not only introduced the first Shaw sibling in Luke Evan’s Owen Shaw, but it also gave the post-credits slot to Deckard killing Han Lue, setting things up for the biggest feud ever sparked in the franchise.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Shaw's Mini sitting in the garage

Both Of Jason Statham’s Previous Car-Based Franchises Are Referenced Throughout Fast History

One reason that Jason Statham was probably sought after by the producers of The Fast and Furious films is because the man knows how to kick an ass or two. But the other major reason that The Statham probably blessed Fast & Furious 6, and all films past that point, is his own history with automotive mayhem in both The Transporter franchise and 2003’s remake of The Italian Job.

Both of those gigs have been referenced in sly ways throughout Deckard Shaw’s tenure in the series. While Deckard drove some pretty exciting cars throughout Furious 7, there's a BMW present in the parking garage he fights Vin Diesel’s Dom in; and the model looks suspiciously similar to that of Frank Martin’s ride in The Transporter. Which probably explains why Dom breaks a window by throwing Deckard up against it. The other fun reference comes during Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw as Jason Statham’s character mentions something about not needing an idiot like Hobbs in a particular heist in Italy, around the same time a Mini Cooper happens to be shown off among his car collection.

Fast & Furious 6 the crew standing around a table with plans

Fast & Furious 6 Came Close To Being Two Movies

The fact that Fast & Furious 6 introduced the Shaw family, as well as shifted the franchise into a globe-trotting espionage tinged thrill ride, suggests that there was a greater plan at work for that particular movie. Sure enough, when Vin Diesel was talking up the film’s release, the suggestion was made that the sixth installment could, indeed, be split into two films.

It’s a notion that’s revisited the franchise recently, as Diesel was at it again suggesting that Fast and Furious 10, the supposedly final chapter in the series, could be split in a similar fashion. Though if history has taught us anything, there’s a chance that this excess of action and plottery could just be split into the development of another film or two, just to make the numbers even.

Man On Fire Denzel Washington walking away from a fire

Denzel Washington Turned Down A Role In Furious 7

In our last bit of alternate casting, and perhaps the most amazing, there was almost a moment in The Fast and The Furious history where another big name would have joined the ranks of Universal franchise. As it turns out, when director James Wan was preparing to film 2015’s Furious 7, Denzel Washington was being courted for, but ultimately turned down an unspecified role.

While Washington is one of the big ticket names that the Fast Saga family still has hopes of landing in the future, some believe that the role he passed up in Furious 7 was that of Mr. Nobody. Eventually played by Kurt Russell, it’s hard not to imagine Denzel Washington channeling some serious cool in the role himself. Maybe there’s room for one more DSS agent of mysterious origins in the final Fast Saga film?

Furious 7 Jason Statham and Vin Diesel ready to fight with pipes

Furious 7 Is A Fast Saga Record Breaker For Three Big Reasons

Director James Wan’s Furious 7 is known for scaling some pretty large heights in The Fast and The Furious history. Not only were the stakes in the film the highest they’d ever been for the Fast Saga characters, but the film would also go on to be the entry with the longest running time, and the highest grossing performance in the entire franchise.

Sadly, one last record that was set for Furious 7’s production was a rather tragic one. With Paul Walker unexpectedly dying during the film’s production, the $50 million insurance payout that was estimated to be owed went on record as the largest sum of its kind.

As one of the longest running franchises created in modern history, who could have guessed that a movie based off of an article detailing street racing culture in New York would have become the worldwide phenomenon that is The Fast and Furious saga? With its engines revving towards the release of F9 next summer, and folks looking forward to what new bombshells will be revealed, the history books aren’t closed on these films just yet.

We’ll see what the future brings when F9 finally hits theaters on April 2, 2021.

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