As the Fast & Furious franchise powers onward towards the release of Fast 8 next year, one could divide the franchise’s history into two halves: Before and after the arrival of The Rock. Dwayne Johnson joined the Fast & Furious movies for Fast Five in 2011 as Luke Hobbs, a federal agent for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) who at first works to bust Dominic Toretto's (Vin Diesel) "family" - before becoming their ally. Johnson appeared in Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7 too (contributing some of those movies' most memorable scenes) and recently wrapped up his role in Fast 8 - but not before dropping hints of on-set tension with a costar(s).
However, it turns out the character of Agent Hobbs was once seen as something very different. He was supposed to be older, smaller and not nearly as muscular. And while he may have participated in blow-out action sequences, he probably would have looked very different while doing so.
Yes, Dwayne Johnson's role as Agent Hobbs was originally written for Tommy Lee Jones. At least, according to Vin Diesel, who revealed the story in a chat on his Facebook page. The actor stated that his fans had asked when he and Johnson might work together, which is what led to the former wrestling champion being cast in the Fast & Furious franchise. Diesel thanked “a girl named Jen Kelly who said ‘I would love to see you guys work together on screen.’”
Diesel also thanked his fans for suggesting that Jason Statham be cast in the Fast & Furious franchise, and for Helen Mirren’s casting in the upcoming Fast 8. The actor also said that the genesis of his appearing as Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies was that his fans kept asking him when he might star in a Marvel movie - and confirmed that the Guardians will appear in Avengers: Infinity Wars in 2018.
How would the Fast & Furious movies have changed, had Tommy Lee Jones been cast as Hobbs instead of Dwayne Johnson? They might have been equally good, just different - as Jones is 25 years older than Johnson and weighs roughly 100 pounds less. Hobbs would have likely been a more cerebral antagonist with Jones playing him, and almost certainly not gone toe-to-toe in a fight with Vin Diesel. Then again, considering the ever-expanding cast of the Fast & Furious series, Jones may yet appear in one of these movies after all (albeit, as a different character than Hobbs).
Still, it’s sort of odd that it appears Vin Diesel makes most of his career decisions — as well as those of the people casting all of his co-starring roles — based on suggestions from his Facebook fans. Isn’t that what agents and casting directors are for? But of course, Diesel has long been one to go his own way in Hollywood.
Fast 8 opens in U.S. theaters on April 17th, 2017, followed by Fast and Furious 9 on April 19th, 2019, and Fast and Furious 10 on April 2nd, 2021.