Vin Diesel has made a name for himself in Hollywood for his action-packed roles, and that includes playing Dom Toretto in all but one of the eight Fast and Furious movies released so far. It’s hard to imagine anyone but Diesel playing the chrome-domed driver extraordinaire, but when 2001’s The Fast and the Furious was casting, Diesel nearly didn’t score the role. Originally future Justified star Timothy Olyphant was being eyed to play Dom. Producer Neil H. Moritz explained:
I had been working with Paul Walker on another movie, Skulls, and I gave him the script [for The Fast and the Furious]. 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.
Neal Moritz then added during his interview on The Bill Simmons Podcast that after Timothy Olyphant passed on appearing in The Fast and the Furious, Moritz went to key folks at Universal and suggested Vin Diesel for Dom Toretto, who by that point had appeared in movies like Saving Private Ryan, Pitch Black and The Iron Giant. Fortunately for Moritz, both the studio and Diesel were game for this choice, and the rest is history. Moritz then added that had Diesel not accepted the role, he doesn’t think the movie would have ever made the movie. Even though Moritz is interested in seeing what an Olyphant-led The Fast and the Furious would have looked like, he can’t imagine anyone other than Diesel as Dom in the actual series.
No doubt there’s a parallel universe out there where Timothy Olyphant decided to join The Fast and the Furious, and he’s the one who’s been driving around as Dom Tortetto for the past 16 years. This is the same universe where Eric Stoltz stayed on as Marty McFly for the Back to the Future trilogy. But as far as our reality is concerned, Vin Diesel has been ingrained in the Fast and Furious franchise since the beginning, with his only absence being in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious. It’s hard to imagine the series without him involved. As for Olyphant, he’s done pretty well for himself, with notable credits including Justified, Hitman, Snowden, Deadwood and Rango.