Vin Diesel is supporting Michelle Rodriguez following her recent threat to leave the Fast and the Furious franchise after her claim that the films don’t give equal importance to female characters. Rodriguez, of course, has been a key player in the film series since the very beginning, having appeared in five of the saga’s eight films starting with the original The Fast and the Furious in 2001, and most recently in the worldwide blockbuster The Fate of the Furious.  Throughout her appearances, Rodriguez has had a strong presence as Letty, the longtime love interest of Dom (Diesel) — and has demonstrated that her character is just as adept with her driving skills as Dom or anyone else in the lead character’s crew.

Having the distinction now of being the only original female character left in the franchise since Jordana Brewster’s character was phased out following the death of fellow series star Paul Walker, Rodriguez threatened Tuesday to vacate that position. In a post seemingly aimed at the film’s creative team, Rodriguez said in part, “I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one. Or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise.”

But in an Instagram video posted by Diesel Sunday, Rodriguez clarified that her remarks were not aimed at Diesel, who has also been a producer of the film series since 2009’s Fast & Furious. Appearing with Diesel in the video, Rodriguez said,  “Vin, for many years you’ve been the biggest supporter of strong women. I’ve always appreciated that about you throughout the years… Just know that if I ever post anything, that it’s not you I’m talking to.”

Diesel simply responded to Rodriguez by kissing her on the forehead and saying “Of course it’s not me.”  He playfully ended the video by putting a faux professional wrestling move on his longtime co-star. Diesel punctuated the post with a more serious tone by saying:

“Proud of Our saga… but we must try to reach higher each time. The challenge is what makes it fun and exciting. It’s also why this saga has reached the level that it has… you have been the best fans in film history and we are forever grateful… Dom and Letty.”

The new remarks by Rodriguez and Diesel are significant for several reasons. For one, Rodriguez is showing that she’s barring no ill will to her longtime creative partner in her recent beef, and reassuring that she’s grateful for the actor/producer taking a stand for the female actors throughout the franchise. Diesel on the other hand, is solidifying his resolve to strive to make the franchise is clearly spelled out his remark about trying to “reach higher each time,” which in this case, to address Rodriguez’s concern about the women of the franchise having equal importance.

Related: 15 Awesome Female-Led Action Movies

Naturally, one can argue that Charlize Theron’s role as the lead villain Cipher demonstrates that the Fast and Furious filmmakers are cognizant of casting females in important roles. But boiling down the numbers, that’s one female character of vital import to the story as opposed to three or four significant male characters (Diesel, Johnson, Statham and to some extent, Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody). In the end, filmmakers should heed Rodriguez’s concerns starting with Fast 9, especially in the burgeoning age of female empowerment in film where Wonder Woman (starring, ironically, former Fast and Furious co-star Gal Gadot) is kicking nearly everybody’s butt at the box office — and Theron, with the upcoming action thriller Atomic Blonde — is not that far behind.

NEXT: Fast & Furious 10 Will End the Franchise

Source: Vin Diesel

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