A Brief History of the Beef Between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson

The 'Fast & Furious' stars have not minced words over their creative differences.
Fast Five Vin Diesel Dwayne Johnson

Brief History is a column that tells you all you need to know about your favorite — and not so favorite — pop culture topics. This entry looks at the public feud between Fast & Furious stars Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. 

Two of Hollywood’s beefiest men have beef.

If you’ve followed any of the press coverage for F9, the tenth film of the Fast & Furious franchise, you may know that two of the franchise’s stars, Vin Diesel, who plays Dominic Toretto, and Dwayne Johnson, who plays Luke Hobbs, have had a public warring of the words.

The latest on the Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson beef

The supposed beef between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson resurfaced in June of this year during a Men’s Health interview with Diesel. In discussing his work with Johnson, who made his franchise debut in Fast Five (2011) but is not in F9, Diesel commented on his co-star’s performance with what some might say is a hint of condescension:

“It was a tough character to embody, the Hobbs character. My approach at the time was a lot of tough love to assist in getting that performance where it needed to be. 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. 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.”

Johnson responded a month later while promoting Jungle Cruisein an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

“I laughed and I laughed hard. I think everyone had a laugh at that. And I’ll leave it at that. And that I’ve wished them well. I wish them well on Fast 9. And I wish them the best of luck on Fast 10 and Fast 11 and the rest of the Fast & Furious movies they do that will be without me.”

How did this all start? Here’s a brief history of the alleged feud between these two Hollywood stars:

The “Candy Ass” Post

The feud between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson first became public in August of 2016. Johnson took to Instagram to vent his frustration during the filming of The Fate of the Furiousthe franchise’s eighth installment. Although the post was later deleted, Esquire printed this quote:

“Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t. The ones that don’t are too chicken shit to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses.”

The post sparked a slew of speculation as to which of his male co-stars Johnson might be referring to. It didn’t take TMZ too long to put the pieces together. According to the outlet, Johnson was referring to Diesel, who was also one of the movie’s producers. Diesel had “made decisions that didn’t sit well with the former wrestling champ.”

Tensions on set grew so high that it became difficult to finish shooting scenes. After Johnson’s post, the two met to hash out their beef. “We do not know if they resolved their issues,” TMZ reported.

The Spin Zone

The public spat between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson escalated further when filming wrapped. Johnson thanked many of his co-stars on Instagram but failed to name Diesel. In the months that followed, Diesel, Johnson, and their co-stars tried to counter the prevailing narrative. Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Letty Ortiz, told People magazine:

“They’re ‘bros’, man. They’re friends, and ultimately even friends reach a point where they have to set aside their differences to make a movie for multi-cultural people around the world, and that is the bigger scheme of things.”

In 2017, days before the release of The Fate of the Furious, Diesel also tried to quell any fears among fans that the two were no longer friendly. He told USA Today:

“I don’t think the world really realizes how close we are, in a weird way. I think some things may be blown out of proportion. I don’t think that was his intention. I know he appreciates how much I work this franchise. In my house, he’s Uncle Dwayne.”

Eleven days later, word got out that the beef originated over “real estate,” as in who got the best action in the film. “It became a big issue for Dwayne and Vin,” TMZ reported, “but ultimately, Dwayne acknowledged it was Vin’s movie — he’s listed #1 on the call sheet.”

TMZ confirmed that both were “1000% in” to star alongside one another in the next film. Clearly, things did not go as planned.

The Fallout

During a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, Dwayne Johnson was asked about his beef with Vin Diesel. He got honest:

“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 moviemaking and collaborating. It took me some time, but I’m grateful for that clarity. Whether we work together again or not.”

When asked whether he would star in another movie with Diesel, Johnson simply replied, “I’m not quite sure.”

The following year, Johnson starred in the franchise spin-off feature Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. Diesel did not produce nor does he appear in that movie, which is instead co-led by Johnson and Jason Stathamwho plays Deckard Shaw.

It then became public that Johnson would not, in fact, appear in F9. The official reason Johnson gave was that the filming conflicted with the promotional schedule for Hobbs & Shaw. He told MTV:

“As of now, we’re not in ‘Fast 9’ because they’re getting ready to start shooting. But who knows, with ‘Fast 10′ and down the road, you never know.”

Do you believe his response? I’m not so sure. After all, Statham found the time for a brief cameo appearance at the end of F9. Where is Johnson?

Is the Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson beef real?

Will Dwayne Johnson ever appear alongside Vin Diesel in another Fast & Furious movie? Who knows. It depends on whether you think the beef is real in the first place. After all, Johnson himself has hinted that it may all have been for publicity. He told the Los Angeles Times in 2016:

“Would Universal [Pictures] have preferred that didn’t happen? Sure, we talked about it. The irony is after that and as they do their tracking and all their analysis, the interest shot through the roof to a whole other level.”

But that was five years ago, and the beef now seems a lot more personal and public than it did back then.

Emily Blunt, who co-stars with Johnson in Jungle Cruise, was interviewed alongside Johnson for the Hollywood Reporter article published earlier this month. And she weighed in on the feud. “Just thank God [Diesel] was there,” she said, adding to Johnson’s comments. “Thank God. He carried you through that.”

To which Johnson replied, getting in a final jab, “Felliniesque.”

Seems pretty real to me. What do you think?

Will DiGravio: Will DiGravio is a Brooklyn-based critic, researcher, and video essayist, who has been a contributor at Film School Rejects since 2018. Follow and/or unfollow him on Twitter @willdigravio.