Vin Diesel addresses his feud with the Rock: 'I could give a lot of tough love'

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Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson met for the first time in 'Fast Five,' the fifth entry in the 'Fast and the Furious' franchise (Photo: Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson met for the first time in Fast Five, the fifth entry in the Fast and the Furious franchise (Photo: Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

As Dominic Toretto is always eager to remind us, the Fast and the Furious movies are all about family. But as in any family, not everyone gets along. Case in point: Franchise heavyweights Vin Diesel and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson had a well-documented three-year feud that only resolved itself when they retreated to separate corners of the Fast cinematic universe. While Diesel's Corona-chugging patriarch still headlines the mainline Fast and Furious movies — including the soon-to-be-released F9 — as the star and producer, Johnson's Luke Hobbs is currently pursuing his own adventures in the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw series that launched with the 2019 hit. 

In a new interview with Men's Health, Diesel reflected on his since-settled tiff with his former (and maybe future?) co-star. "It was a tough character to embody, the Hobbs character," the actor remarked about the specific challenges that faced Johnson when he joined the franchise in the fifth installment, 2011's Fast Five. Hobbs was introduced as a Hulk-like government agent tasked with bringing down Toretto's gang of vehicular avengers.   

Diesel and Johnson in 'Fast & Furious 6' (Photo: Giles Keyte/©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Diesel and Johnson in Fast & Furious 6. (Photo: Giles Keyte/©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Diesel says that he adopted a "tough love" approach in order to help Johnson get into Hobbs' headspace. "As a producer, to say, 'Okay, we’re going to take Dwayne Johnson, who’s associated with wrestling, and we’re going to force this cinematic world, audience members, to regard his character as someone that they don’t know' — Hobbs hits you like a ton of bricks." 

"That’s something that I’m proud of, that aesthetic," Diesel continues. "That took a lot of work. We had to get there and sometimes, at that time, I could give a lot of tough love. Not Felliniesque, but I would do anything I’d have to do in order to get performances in anything I’m producing."

It's fair to say that Johnson didn't exactly love Diesel's "tough love" tactics. Their behind-the-scenes tension spilled over into public view in 2016 on the set of the eighth film, The Fate of the Furious. In a viral Instagram post, the Rock called out an unnamed co-star — who many instantly identified as Diesel — for behavior that wasn't up to his standards. "Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t," Johnson wrote. "The ones that don’t are too chicken s*** to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses."

Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) in 'Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw' (Photo: Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. (Photo: Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

The Fast family feud saga continued up through the release of The Fate of the Furious — during which Diesel and Johnson were reportedly kept apart at press events — and the ensuing news that Hobbs would be getting his own franchise alongside Jason Statham's redeemed villain, Deckard Shaw. But both stars also tried to put a happy face on things. "Dwayne Johnson only has one big brother in this film world and that’s me," Diesel told USA Today in 2017, while Johnson remarked to Entertainment Tonight, "The most important thing is just the movie."

Eventually, the squabble ended as it began: with an Instagram post. Following the 2019 release of Hobbs & Shaw, Johnson thanked "Brother Vin" for his support of the film for inviting him to join the Fast and Furious family in the first place. 

"My goal was always, all these years, to come into the Fast & Furious world and help elevate the franchise in any way that I possibly could," Johnson said. "And of course, all roads lead to one thing. I’ll be seeing you soon, Torreto." Based on what we've seen of F9, that reunion is literally going to be out of this world.  

F9 premieres June 25 in theaters

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