It’s easy to make fun of the Fast & Furious franchise for how often Vin Diesel grumbles the word “family” over the course of each new movie, but it’s also important to remember how close the ensemble has become offscreen, with many of them having worked together for more than 20 years.
In particular, Diesel constantly pays tribute to his longtime co-star and close friend Paul Walker, who remains an integral part of the mythology even eight years after his death. Each subsequent entry in The Fast Saga has paid tribute to Brian O’Conner in one way or another, with the conclusion of the seventh chapter perhaps the most emotional climax to any mega budget blockbuster.
Walker’s daughter Meadow has often spoken of how Diesel has always been there to offer support, advice and wisdom in the years since her father’s passing, and he’s not ruled out having her show up in one of the final two films either. In a new interview, the franchise’s leading man reaffirmed his belief that there’s a spiritual connection between the two, after the 53 year-old stated that John Cena was sent in the direction of Fast & Furious 9 by Walker.
“Obviously, I’m multicultural. You could’ve cast anybody to be my brother. For two months before I went into filming, I created a shrine where I could do all the combat training, all the stunts and I had the Charger there to simulate the garage to get into the Dom state of mind. Now the idea of the brother worked great on paper, but when the time came to cast it, anxiety. Who could you cast to be Dom’s brother and 20 years into the game? The audience knows our mythology so much. Cena comes into the shrine one morning, and I had this strange feeling that Paul Walker had sent him.”
There’s not much of a familial resemblance between Diesel and Cena, but they’re both huge dudes with a background in the action genre, so you can at least buy it on that front. He’s right in saying you couldn’t just cast anyone as the mysterious third Toretto sibling and expect audiences to buy it, though, as fun as it would’ve been to see someone like David Spade in the role, but at least we know Paul Walker’s influence is still all over Fast & Furious 9.