Vin Diesel said that when he began 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, he never imagined his character, Dominic Toretto, nor himself, would become a father.
The 53-year-old actor now has a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. The Fate of the Furious introduced his character’s son, whom he’s raising with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) when F9 begins.
“Now we come full circle, and we see how deathly committed he is to being a father,” Diesel said in a recent Zoom press conference ahead of Friday’s premiere.
F9 also introduces Dom’s long-lost brother, Jakob (John Cena). Expanding the Toretto family also was personal to Diesel, who said his multicultural background allowed for the casting of Cena.
“You could’ve cast anyone to be my brother,” Diesel said. “The whole world was considered.”
In the original film, Dom led a gang of street racers he called his family. Police officer Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) infiltrated them to catch them hijacking trucks to finance their souped-up vehicles.
Sequels 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift introduced new characters like Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang) and Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), while Diesel declined to appear, except for a cameo in Tokyo Drift. The fourth film, Fast & Furious reunited the original cast, with Brian and Dom forced to work out their differences on an undercover mission.
Fast Five included characters from every previous movie, teaming up as an all-star racing team to battle international villains. Characters like agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) pursued them in Fast Five, then became part of the family.
Sequels would find Letty recovering from amnesia and Hobbs pardoning the gang in exchange for help on increasingly dangerous missions. Hobbs eventually got his own spinoff.
The mission in F9 begins when Jakob kidnaps their government liaison, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). Dom and his team of auto racers reunite to rescue Mr. Nobody and keep dangerous technology out of Jakob’s hands.
The Toretto family already included Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). The character wasn’t in The Fate of the Furious because she is married to Brian. While the series kept Brian alive after Walker’s death, F9 allows Mia to return to help Dom deal with Jakob, leaving Brian at home to watch the kids.
“There’s something very refreshing and very evolved about a woman leaving her husband and kids behind in order to take care of business,” the 41-year-old Brewster said in a Zoom press conference. “That’s something that a lot of women will recognize in the film and will go, ‘OK, finally, we get to see that on the screen.'”
F9 also features more reunions. Han, presumed dead in Tokyo Drift and Furious 6, returns.
The 49-year-old Kang said the only reason he felt comfortable returning was that Justin Lin, director of the third through sixth films, also returned. F9 explains how Han survived.
“Justin and I, we gave birth to Han together,” Kang said. “Han is so important to him, not only within the story but in his personal life as an Asian American man of what Han represents.”