Before finishing the eighth Fast and Furious installment, The Fate of the Furious—a movie that megastar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson agreed to grace only if he and then-frenemy, the film’s other bald action star, Vin Diesel, would not share scenes—Johnson shot off an Instagram post, calling an unknown member of production (presumably: Diesel) a “candy ass.” Beef followed the candy.
“It caused a firestorm,” Johnson recently told Vanity Fair of the post. “Yet interestingly enough…[it was] as if every single crew member found their way to me and either quietly thanked me or sent me a note.”
The origin of the Johnson/Diesel beef isn’t clear. When it came time to shoot The Fate of the Furious, however, Johnson thought it best to maintain separation on set. “I wanted to forgo drama,” he said. “I thought that that was the best thing to do. For everybody.”
The Instagram post (since deleted) went on to say that during certain scenes, Johnson was not acting; his blood was actually boiling.
While he said Diesel didn’t do anything in particular to enrage him—“nothing specific happened, just the same old shit”—Johnson said the two attempted a kind of mid-production parley.
“I wouldn’t call it a peaceful meeting,” Johnson said. “I would call it a meeting of clarity. He and I had a good chat in my trailer, and it was out of that chat that it really became just crystal clear that we are two separate ends of the spectrum. And agreed to leave it there.”
Of course, things have not been left there.
In the Men’s Health July/August cover story, Diesel, who was also a producer on the film, explained the pair’s tumultuous relationship as the product of “tough love”:
“My approach at the time was a lot of tough love to assist in getting that performance where it needed to be. As a producer to say, Okay, we’re going to take Dwayne Johnson, who’s associated with wrestling, and we’re going to force this cinematic world, audience members, to regard his character as someone that they don’t know—Hobbs hits you like a ton of bricks. That’s something that I’m proud of, that aesthetic. That took a lot of work. We had to get there and sometimes, at that time, I could give a lot of tough love. Not Fellini-esque, but I would do anything I’d have to do in order to get performances in anything I’m producing.”
In the Vanity Fair interview, when writer Chris Heath reminded Johnson of this explanation, Johnson reportedly guffawed.
He then responded by calling B.S.:
“You know, I’ll tell you this. One part of me feels like there’s no way I would dignify any of that bullshit with an answer. But here’s the truth. I’ve been around the block a lot of times. Unlike him, I did not come from the world of theater. And, you know, I came up differently and was raised differently. And I came from a completely different culture and environment. And I go into every project giving it my all. And if I feel that there’s some things that need to be squared away and handled and taken care of, then I do it. And it’s just that simple. So when I read that, just like everybody else, I laughed. I laughed hard. We all laughed. And somewhere I’m sure Fellini is laughing too.”
Johnson balked when asked whether he regretted the Instagram post that launched the firestorm. “I meant what I said. For sure,” he clarified. “I mean what I say when I say it. But to express it publicly was not the right thing to do.” If Johnson has regrets, they come from sharing his views publicly. But he stands by them.
He said that he and Diesel are just “philosophically two different people, and we approach the business of moviemaking in two very different ways.”
Johnson didn’t elaborate on what makes for a Diesel approach, but he shared his own philosophy—one which requires no large leap to infer what Johnson thinks of Diesel’s:
“It’s the philosophy of going into work every day. Looking at everybody as equal partners. And looking at the studio as equal partners. And looking at the crew, regardless of where you’re at, either on the call sheet or otherwise, as equal partners—with respect and with humility, and being respectful of the process and every other human being who is putting in just as much time, just as much hard work and sweat equity, if not more. And I think it’s always been important to me to always be straight up and look somebody in the eye. And if you say you’re going to do something, do it.”
The beef, it would seem, continues.
Josh St. Clair
Joshua St Clair is an editorial assistant at Men’s Health Magazine.
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