Tips and AdviceHow-To Guides for ActorsHow Vin Diesel Landed the Lead Role in 'Fast and the Furious'

How Vin Diesel Landed the Lead Role in ‘Fast and the Furious’


Vin Diesel has made an acting career out of starring in action franchises such as the Chronicles of Riddick and XXX. He also showcased his voice acting talents in the Guardians of the Galaxy. But, he his most well-known role is the leader of the Torretto family in the Fast and the Furious franchise. Torretto has appeared in seven of the films including the eighth box office of breaking installment The Fate of the Furious movie, and there is no sign that he’s going to slow down.

Even after walking away from the first sequel, Diesel has become connected to the franchise. However, it may not have started that way. In fact, another well-known actor turned down the role.

Neal H. Moritz, the producer of every single Fast And The Furious film, recently spoke with Bill Simmons on The Bill Simmons Podcast. He revealed that Justified star Timothy Olyphant was originally eyed to play Dom. 

Moritz recalls showing the script for the original 2001 movie to star Paul Walker and director Rob Cohen and reveals just how serious the studio was getting Elephant to star.

“I had been working with Paul Walker on another movie, ‘Skulls,’ and I gave him the script [for The Fast and the Furious]… Rob Cohen, who I had made ‘The Rat Pack’ with, we gave him the script. The two of them liked the idea. And then we had to look for Dom Toretto. The studio said, ‘If you can get Timothy Olyphant to play that role we will greenlight the movie.’

Before appearing in the hit FX TV series ‘Justified,’ Olyphant stars in the hit HBO series Deadwood, Scream 2, Go and Gone in Sixty Seconds. Moritz praised Olyphant’s acting skills while wondering how it might have worked out.

“The luckiest thing that ever happened to us is Tim Olyphant turned us down. He’s a great actor. In fact, I’m curious to see what that movie would have been.”

Moritz suggested Diesel after seeing him in the film Saving Private Ryan. Moritz described meeting Diesel and how Diesel managed to make an incredible first impression.

“I went and met him at Kate Mantilini [restaurant], and he wasn’t a star yet, but the great thing about Vin is he always believed he was a star… And I was going in there to think he’s coming to me to want the role and I’m the one there now having to convince him to do the role! Lucky for both of us that happened. And then we started to make the movie.”

The rest is history.

Megan Diane
Hi, I'm Megan Browne, the Head of Partnerships at Project Casting - a job board for the entertainment industry. As Head of Partnerships, I help businesses find the best talent for their influencer campaigns, photo shoots, and film productions. Creating these partnerships has enabled me to help businesses scale and reach their true potential. I'm excited to continue driving growth by connecting people with projects they're passionate about.

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