Every time you hear the name ‘Dom Toretto’ only one guy comes into our mind pumping the American Muscle in the most bad-ass way imaginable – Vin Diesel. But what if I tell you that Vin Diesel was actually not the producers’ first choice to play the role of Dom Toretto?
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Vin Diesel playing the role of Dominic Toretto in the Fast & Furious franchise, but there was a well-known actor who actually turned the part down first.
Speaking to Bill Simmons on Wednesday’s episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, producer Neil H. Moritz revealed that Justified star Timothy Olyphant was originally eyed for the Dom role.
“I had been working with Paul Walker on another movie, Skulls, and I gave him the script [for The Fast and the Furious],” Moritz said. “Rob Cohen, who I had made The Rat Pack with, we gave him the script. The two of them liked the idea. And then we had to look for Dom Toretto. The studio said, ‘If you can get Timothy Olyphant to play that role we will greenlight the movie… The luckiest thing that ever happened to us is Tim Olyphant turned us down. He’s a great actor. In fact, I’m curious to see what that movie would have been.”
After Olyphant passed, Moritz suggested Diesel, who had produced standout supporting work in Saving Private Ryan and Boiler Room and played the lead role in sleeper hit Pitch Black.
“I went and met him at Kate Mantilini [restaurant] and he wasn’t a star yet, but the great thing about Vin is he always believed he was a star,” Moritz said. “And I was going in there to think he’s coming to me to want the role and I’m the one there now having to convince him to do the role! Lucky for both of us that happened. And then we started to make the movie.”
And so started the most successful phase of Diesel’s life.