Fate of the Furious is now in theaters and making a killing at the worldwide box office. As the eighth Fast and the Furious installment continues to outpace competing blockbuster franchises (like Star Wars), there is a growing amount of skepticism about whether or not some behind the scenes drama with the film was actually genuine.
The story of Vin Diesel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's feud during Fate of the Furious has been well chronicled throughout the film's production; however, as a new Yahoo Movies article breaks it down, the feud could be looked at as more of a PR stunt, rather than a legitimate beef between two big testosterone-fueled action stars.
Faking the Feud
Yahoo cites the odd link between how Fate of the Furious was marketed and the so-called behind-the-scenes tensions between Diesel and Johnson as possible evidence that the feud between the two was a huge PR stunt.
Here's how the general gist of a skeptic's take on the matter:
- The feud began with Johnson going on a social media tirade (presumably about Diesel), when he's usually the consummate professional.
- The Fate of the Furious promotional poster is pretty much a visual representation of Johnson's beef with Diesel, suggesting it was a planned part of the PR campaign.
- As soon as Fate hit theaters and started making big money, it was quickly reported that Johnson and Diesel are both coming back for Fast and the Furious 9, making the time of their beef - and its prompt resolution - look even more contrived.
- Johnson is a former WWE Superstar, with extensive experience in generating hype through staged rivalries and trash-talk.
- After the loss of Paul Walker (which generated big Furious 7 box office returns), Fate of the Furious wanted to use a similar real-life hook to lure big audiences back in. And a staged feud is one of Hollywood's oldest tricks to do that.
Of course, for as much evidence as there is that feud was fake, there's also some evidence that it might've been real...
The Real Beef
While the makers of Fate of the Furious may have found a way to spin the Vin Diesel / Dwayne Johnson tensions into something marketable, it's definitely still possible that the pair of actors had a falling out during production.
The hits of a real feud come into play when you consider the following:
- Diesel and Johnson have the least amount of direct interaction that they've ever had in one of these films. As some fans have pointed out, that schism may have resulted in weird narrative gaps, like Diesel's Dom never having scene with Johnson's Hobbs, to (SPOILER) mourn the loss of Elena.
- The two actors have been notably separated during much of the film's promotional tour, which has had notable "tweaks" to the usual format (like joint interviews or a big cast junket) supposedly because of tensions between the stars.
- Rumors swirled for months that it was Diesel's lack of punctuality and professional courtesy that caused problems.
- Another rumor says that FotF included a scene meant to launch a spinoff film for Johnson's Hobbs and Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw - that is, until Vin Diesel killed the project. If that's true, then the feud between the stars extended beyond the screen to the business side of things, as well.
- Here's a complete timeline of the feud to read over for more specific instances.
Bottom line: It seems as though Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson may have had some kind of conflict while making Fate of the Furious - but like true professionals, they took all that media attention and made it work for them.
As the franchise goes forward, don't be too surprised to see the two action stars both coming back; or any kind of behind-the-scenes drama becoming part of Fast and the Furious 9's marketing hook.