Vin Diesel Says the Spirit of Paul Walker Brought John Cena to ‘F9’

Ryan Lattanzio
·2 min read

Nine “Fast and the Furious” entries later, the shadow of Paul Walker, who died in 2013, still hangs over the street-racing franchise. With the latest entry, “F9,” finally due for a release from Universal Pictures on June 25 after being pushed back more than two years (and several times), the stars are starting to make the press rounds. That includes Vin Diesel, who plays retired professional street racer Dominic Toretto, who said he felt that late actor Paul Walker sent him a sign to cast John Cena as Jakob Toretto, an assassin and Diesel’s character’s brother.

“I remember once we started getting closer to production, [director] Justin [Lin] and I would talk about how harrowing it would be to actually cast a new Toretto, the brother of Toretto,” Diesel said during a recent “F9” press conference, according to “There’s so many different directions you could go.”

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Diesel continued, “And I remember John Cena coming into this Dom Shrine that I had where I would kind of go to meditate and train and start getting into that Dom state of mind. And I remember John coming in and… call this crazy, but I remember feeling as though Pablo, Paul Walker, had sent him in.”

He added, “I remember talking to Justin that night and saying, ‘My gut and my heart feels like this was meant to be.'”

“F9” stars “Fast and Furious” mainstays and newcomers alike: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, John Cena, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, and Michael Rooker all lead the new movie. Cena makes his “Fast” franchise debut, as does Michael Rooker (“Guardians of the Galaxy”). “F9” is directed by Justin Lin, who previously helmed 2006’s “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” 2009’s “Fast & Furious,” 2011’s “Fast Five,” and 2013’s “Fast & Furious 6.” He’s also already on board to direct “Fast & Furious 10,” but production on that film has not yet begun. The “F9” screenplay comes from Daniel Casey.

The ninth film is a sequel to 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious.” Worldwide, the “Fast” films have grossed more than $5.8 billion dollars since the franchise launched in 2001.

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