The true story behind Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson's 'candy ass' feud
"You don't turn your back on family."
"What's real is family. Your family. Hold on to that."
God knows, the number of times Dominic Toretto has uttered the words "family" and "brotherhood" during the eight-installment-long saga, my head has churned and like many fans succumbing to the magic of franchises, I found myself questioning my taste in cinema.
If the 'Fast and Furious' has evolved to be a brand, the franchise's two musketeers, Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson are the tools, using which Universal Pictures has been feeding its loyal band of supporters fluff and frivolity, wrapped in the cover of entertainment. And this was even before the dual ambassadors of this brand, the two Hollywood stars who brought to life the beefed-up frenemies Dominic Toretto and Agent Hobbs, went rogue.
Back in 2016, before the release of the eighth installment, when Fate of the Furious was still in production, rumors surfaced about an internally-brewing beef. Flashy headlines were splashed across tabloids at the time, as reports attempted to explain how the film's lead stars, Diesel and The Rock were in disagreement of some sort, unfailingly impacting the rest of the crew.
"There's no other franchise that gets my blood boiling more than this one. An incredibly hard-working crew. Universal Studios Entertainment has been great partners as well. My female co-stars are always amazing and I love ‘em," Johnson's infamous Instagram post - which also happened to be the first indication of a feud - mentioned in 2016 August.
Taking a potshot at his colleague, the WWE star-turned-actor further wrote: "My male co-workers however are a different story. Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don't. The ones that don't are too chicken s**t to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses."
While Internet's first reaction was to marvel over The Rock's choice of vocabulary (read Candy ass) what was happening behind the scenes was the sowing of seeds - seeds of what can be considered the most eyeball-grabbing Hollywood rivalry of this decade.
Naturally, all eyes were on the 50-year-old action star next, as amidst a barrage of rumors and speculative reports, Diesel maintained his tight-lipped stance and refrained from making any public comment about the feud. Gossip website TMZ added further fuel to this feud when it reported that the warring actors allegedly held a "secret meeting" to talk through matters and put an end to their now-notorious fight.
Around the same time, Johnson too shared a post, hinting that their war of words might indeed be over. “Family is gonna have differences of opinion and fundamental core beliefs. To me, conflict can be a good thing, when it’s followed by great resolution. I was raised on healthy conflict and welcome it. And like any family, we get better from it," the Jumanji actor had shared. But little did fans realize at the time that the clash of the icons was from over!
In the months leading up to the release of Fate of the Furious (in 2017 April) and even after that, there were constant whispers of ongoing strife. First, it was about the future of the franchise and the much-talked-about sequel (Fast and Furious 9) and then the feud took an entirely different direction with the announcement of a spinoff, centered on the character of Johnson - Hobbs.
It's well-known news since then, that if not entirely, partially at least, the focus of the studio has shifted from the Diesel-led Furious saga to the new project in the pipeline; Hobbs and Shaw. The action flick, as the name suggests, follows Johnson's character, Hobbs and his unlikely alliance with Deckard Shaw, an anti-hero brought to life by the brawny Jason Statham.
Unrest and speculation surrounding the end of the Fast and Furious series were a natural progression, following news of the spinoff, something that even Diesel's half-hearted assurance couldn't curb.
"I know there has been a lot of speculation as to why the Fast 9 release date was pushed... but it would be unfair to say it is anyone's fault," the Xander Cage star had shared adding, "Like any vehicle that has run around the globe 8 times, the franchise is in need of maintenance. My good friend and the godfather of Universal, Ron Meyer has granted me the time to do just that. We have some very exciting news to share soon... stay tuned."The final nail in this coffin was recently hammered in by Johnson himself, who candidly told Rolling Stone magazine about his uncertainty when it came to the ninth Fast and Furious film. "Right now I'm concentrating on making the spin-off as good as it can be," he said. The actor also addressed the feud, revealing that he and Diesel haven't even filmed any scenes together.
"Vin and I had a few discussions, including an important face-to-face in my trailer. And what I came to realize is that we have a fundamental difference in philosophies on how we approach movie-making and collaborating," The Rock added.
At this point, if questions like "what happens to the Fast and Furious family", and "will Hobbs and Dom ever work together", are cropping up on your mind, you are not alone. Despite their conflict of ideologies and difference in opinion, the actors (and the crew) have weaved [sic] a narrative, appealing enough to draw huge box-office figures.
For the uninitiated, Fate of the Furious grossed a whopping $532.5 million worldwide, setting a clear benchmark for an opening weekend. However, as it turns out, the numbers, in actuality, help a regular movie-goer understand the business of these two megastars and their high-profile fall-out.
Johnson currently has a net worth of $220 million dollars, according to Celebrity Net Worth, and this is including his years as an entertainer in the ring and on the big screen. With a Hobbs and Shaw spinoff already in his kitty, the former WWE wrestler also boasts an impressive franchise-based movie resume - he is set to star as anti-hero Black Adam under the DCEU umbrella. It is safe to say, that as of now, the actor's plate is full.
If 2018 alone is considered, the 45-year-old actor is looking forward to at least two blockbuster-worthy releases - sci-fi thriller Rampage in April and Skyscraper in July. And this is beside his other expansions, such as his recurring HBO series Ballers, his investment in the Seven Bucks Productions, and a recent diversification in the form of his own YouTube channel, "The Rock". He might be new to the site, but he already boasts a 2.8 million-strong subscriber base on his official channel.
And let's not forget about his presence on Instagram - well, him working out those muscles kinda makes it hard - where he is followed by at least 102 million users. All in all, The Rock is building a brand, and giving him close competition in these quarters is none other than, his Fast and Furious co-star.
In 2017, Diesel not only made it to the Forbes annual list of World's Highest Paid Actors, but also topped it off at an impressive third place. Interestingly, that year, the actor had appeared in only three movies, Fast 8, xXx: The Return of the Xander Cage, and Guardians of the Galaxy (voicing Groot), and yet made for one of the highest earnings as an actor. This alone should put into perspective his popularity and net worth - which Celebrity Net Worth rounds off at a cool $200 million as of this year.
Diesel may not have a slew of big-budget releases lined up for the year - except for his reprising roles in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War and the yet-undated Fast and Furious 9 - and yet the actor continues to make the big bucks, becoming a force to reckon with. And, rumor has it that he is also one of the top contenders for the role of x-rated superhero Bloodshot in Valiant Entertainment and Sony's apparent comic-book movie collaborative.
The fact of the matter is both Diesel and Johnson have their fingers, immersed deep, in every pie. Just the association of their name with any franchise is guarantee enough to draw in their loyal fan-following and ensure a handsome box-office grossing as well.
Speaking strictly in terms of the statistics, anything to do with these two stars has to have a deeper and more long-term impact. So, when clarifications surface on feuds involving successful movie franchises, it would be naive to believe that it was all about some "fundamental difference in philosophies". And that, at no point, the debate pivoted solely around who's going to be the face of the brand, the solo ambassador.
"Candy ass" explanations, perhaps.