Here’s Why Vin Diesel Wanted John Cena as Dom’s Brother in Fast & Furious 9

Ever since his first appearance in 2001’s The Fast and The Furious, the lead character of the franchise, Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel, has established himself as the uber-alpha male of the group of racing daredevils-turned-government secret agents. It is difficult to imagine such a tough character having a relative who just might be even tougher. But in Fast & Furious 9, we’re getting exactly that.

The trailer for F9 promises just such a person, as John Cena enters the franchise in the role of Jakob, Dom’s vengeful younger brother. In an interview with EW, Diesel explained why Cena was the perfect actor for the part of Jakob.

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“I felt like [director]Justin [Lim] did; the casting of that character could go a million different ways. And at the same time a very, very, very difficult character to cast. Because of that, you got to go with your gut, you got to go with your heart, and when I met John, he checked all the boxes. He had an energy that provoked a kind of curiosity about all of the Torettos. He just felt right. And he did a terrific job.”

From the trailer for F9, it is clear that there is no love lost between Dom and Jakob. In fact, the primary motivation for Jakob seems to be to kill Dom through any means necessary, even if it means siding with the superterrorist Cipher. This kind of relationship is in sharp contrast to the rest of the franchise, which has always emphasized the importance of family bonds. According to Diesel, F9 will continue to delve into that theme, while shedding light on Dom’s mysterious past.

“Family is at the core of the Fast & Furious, and how you explore that and play with that is what makes for an interesting franchise. One of the compelling aspects of Fast is this backstory that we were introduced to literally 20 years ago, and that always has had its cloak of obscurity. We always wanted to know a bit more about the origins. And I think that a franchise has to earn the right to go back in-depth into a backstory, and I hope Fast & Furious has done just that. I feel like the instinct or desire to go into the backstory, almost the origin story, was something compelling for everybody.”

Vin Diesel also revealed that F9 will be the penultimate movie in the main Fast & Furious franchise, with the next film split into two parts for an epic conclusion to the story of Dom and his crew. It remains to be seen whether Dom will use the remaining time left to him to go to war against his younger brother, or Dom and Jakob will eventually unite to take on Cipher.

Directed by Justin Lim, F9 stars Vin Diesel, John Cena, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Sung Kang, with Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, and Cardi B. The film arrives in theaters on May 28. This news originated at Entertainment Weekly.

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