Dwayne Johnson may not be involved in Fast and Furious 9, even though he seems to have put his well-publicized feud with Vin Diesel behind him, but that doesn’t mean that the action blockbuster is lacking in the ‘pro wrestler turned actor’ department. John Cena, who has been carving out a decent career for himself on the big screen in recent years, is one of the new additions to the cast of the ninth installment and admitted that the close bond between the longtime members of the team meant that he had to earn their respect.
The likes of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster have been a part of the Fast and Furious franchise for almost 20 years, with Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris having been along for the ride since 2003, so it makes sense that any newcomers to the ‘family’ would need to go out of their way to be accepted into such a close-knit group, with Cena being no exception.
“The global connection the franchise has with its fans, and the respect that the franchise has for its fans, is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It allowed me to really look at the absolute analytics of the project through the people who have been working some 20 years on this. It really is a family atmosphere, there’s a lot of respect for the franchise, there is that expectation to deliver for the fan base, and it’s been like no other experience I’ve been on. You kind of have to earn your respect in so many ways, but once you do you are absolutely, unexpectedly welcomed into the family. It’s been really, really, special, and I’m very fortunate.”
It hardly comes as a surprise that the core cast members are incredibly protective of the franchise, having transformed the Fast and Furious brand from mid-budget genre movies about street racing into one of the biggest and most successful franchises in the entire industry, with Vin Diesel’s role as both main star and producer giving him a serious amount of influence on the creative direction of each new entry.
The popularity of Fast and Furious shows no sign of slowing down, either, with recent spinoff Hobbs & Shaw earning over $750m at the box office without even featuring Dominic Torretto or any members of his family and with director Justin Lin back at the helm for Fast and Furious 9, after being one of the main driving forces behind the franchise’s reinvention as globe-trotting action epics.