Last month, director Justin Lin, who has helmed five films in the billion-dollar blockbuster film franchise, abruptly dropped out as director of the latest sequel, “Fast X,” just days into production.
While sources attributed his exit at the time to creative differences, multiple reports now claim that Lin pumped the brakes on the project due to a behind-the-scenes clash with Diesel, who both stars in and produces the films.
The two reportedly had a “major disagreement” during a four-person meeting about the sequel, which was already undergoing significant script revisions, after Diesel arrived with new notes for the director, per The Hollywood Reporter.
“Justin finally had enough and said, ‘This movie is not worth my mental health,’” one source told the outlet, noting that the meeting “ended with a slammed door.”
According to the outlet, the actor holds tremendous sway over the vision for the films and has the power to unilaterally veto certain sequences, leaving the director “the job of making them fit.”
A separate source told the Daily News that Diesel was “difficult” during production. “Diesel shows up late to the set. He doesn’t know his lines. And he shows up out of shape,” the source told the outlet.
Neither Diesel nor Lin have commented on the reports, but a spokesperson for Universal told The Hollywood Reporter: “Any creative differences leading to Justin Lin’s exit were with the studio, not with fellow producers, cast or crew.”
Lin, who co-wrote “Fast X” and will still remain on board as a producer, was expected to helm this installment and the next film in the franchise, which were meant to serve as a conclusion to the “Fast and Furious” saga.
“With the support of Universal, I have made the difficult decision to step back as director of FAST X, while remaining with the project as a producer,” he said in a statement announcing his departure. “Over 10 years and five films, we have been able to shoot the best actors, the best stunts, and the best damn car chases. On a personal note, as the child of Asian immigrants, I am proud of helping to build the most diverse franchise in movie history. I will forever be grateful to the amazing cast, crew and studio for their support, and for welcoming me into the FAST family.”
His announcement arrived days after Diesel posted a behind-the-scenes video on Instagram, in which the actor asks the director about how he’s feeling a week into production.
“It feels like the beginning of, uh, of an epic ending,” an uncomfortable-looking Lin says in response.
Since the filmmaker’s exit, Universal has reportedly been scrambling to find a replacement, with the delay costing the studio “upwards of $600,000 to $1 million a day,” according to Variety.
Louis Leterrier — who’s previously directed big-budget action fare, including the first two “Transporter” films and “The Incredible Hulk” — has since been hired to take over directorial duties from Lin.
Featuring an ensemble cast of familiar faces and franchise newcomers, “Fast X” stars Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Charlize Theron, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jason Momoa and Brie Larson. The film is still set to hit theaters on May 19, 2023.
Despite Diesel begging him to return, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will not be appearing in the latest sequel due to his infamous and now yearslong feud with the actor over his alleged unprofessionalism on set.