Why Vin Diesel Walked Away From 2 Fast And 2 Furious (And Why He Returned)

When looking at the "Fast & Furious" franchise, there are some clear weak links in the absolutely absurd action films led by Vin Diesel. The second film in the series is toward the bottom of most people's lists, aptly titled "2 Fast and 2 Furious." A critical difference between this sequel and the many other "Fast" films (besides torture rats and ejector seats) is the absence of Vin Diesel's character, Dominic Toretto. The character has now become synonymous with the franchise, and after his brief disappearance in the second "Fast & Furious" movie, Toretto has been in every film afterward. Even in the third film, "Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift," which has an entirely different cast of characters, Vin Diesel has a cameo in the film's final scene.

As it turns out, Vin Diesel's brief hiatus from the franchise mainly stemmed from the actor's lack of artistic control of the films. After the original movie's success, Vin Diesel didn't see a way to replicate the magic, thus stepping away. However, as seen in the upcoming "Fast X," the actor found a way to return and tell more stories in the "Fast & Furious" world. To do so, Vin Diesel decided to make his role as integral behind the camera as it is in front of it.

'The script wasn't continuing the story'

In a cover story on the actor for #Legend, Vin Diesel spoke about his hesitancy to try and do another "Fast & Furious" movie after the first:

"I remember being in a room full of big CEOs and the people who owned the franchise. We were at a dinner in London celebrating the success of the film. One of the guys said to me, 'We have to do this again.' I remember telling everyone at the table, 'You can't do this again. You can't touch it. You have to leave it alone.'"

Ironically, Vin Diesel saw the script for "2 Fast and 2 Furious" as an unnecessary continuation. The actor, in keeping with the nonsensical nature of the films, believed any "Fast & Furious" sequel would need the nuance and depth akin to that of Francis Ford Coppola:

"If we 'sequelized' it the way studios were doing at the time, just slapping a story together, I'd ruin the chance of that first one becoming a classic [...] I was an idealist, and, to me, the script wasn't continuing the story. If you're going to do a sequel, do it like Francis Ford Coppola, do it like one of the literary greats, but that wasn't what they were doing. They were capitalizing on the brand and milking the success of it as long as they could."

'Diversity was the fuel for the narrative'

As hilarious as Vin Diesel's comments are within the context of the current state of the "Fast" franchise, the actor's unironic belief in the series of films is what inspired him to return to the series, and take a much more prominent behind-the-scenes role. As he told #Legend:

"After The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, it came to me: why don't I be the producer? Why don't I oversee the work, write, and create what I want for this film? In the beginning, it had a great sense of diversity, and it still had remnants of that. The diversity was the fuel for the narrative."

Vin Diesel's investment into the future "Fast & Furious" movies is all well and good until you see what that unbridled enthusiasm and involvement did to the production of the latest installment, "Fast X." However, it seems the actor's intentions are not just for the sake of making stories he finds engaging but also for creating films with a diverse set of people:

"The diversity was the fuel for the narrative. I wanted to transform that diversity into a cool multiculturalism. I wanted to propose that you could take the same scenes and put people of all different colors and races and nationalities and prove that their brotherhood can be equal to anyone else's brotherhood."

As silly as the "Fast & Furious" movies can be at times, the cast almost always consists of different races while highlighting a variety of cultures. The globe-trotting vehicular mayhem of these movies lends itself to being diverse. So, while they may not be the most thought-provoking films, you can at least take comfort that the next time Ludacris flies a car to space, you know it's a story being told from the idealistic heart of Vin Diesel.