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The Real Reason Dwayne Johnson Isn't In Fast And Furious 9

A key member of the "family" is missing from the latest installment in the "Fast and Furious" franchise.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has portrayed Luke Hobbs in the "Fast" film series ever since 2011's "Fast Five," but he's missing from "F9," which debuted internationally in May and in U.S. theaters in June 2021. Given Johnson's rocky (no pun intended) history with franchise star Vin Diesel, who portrays Dominic "Dom" Toretto, and the success of 2019's spin-off "Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw," fans could be forgiven for thinking that Johnson's former federal agent Luke Hobbs might be going his own way — but this doesn't appear to be the case.

In a January 2019 interview with MTV News, Johnson explained that his absence from "F9" was due to scheduling conflicts with "Hobbs & Shaw" – an explanation that, on its surface, might seem a bit suspect. At the time, the spin-off flick had just wrapped shooting, and when MTV's Josh Horowitz asked Johnson if he would be taking part in the ninth film in the main "Fast and Furious" series, Johnson hemmed and hawed a little. "The plan has always been for the 'Fast and Furious' universe to grow and expand," he said. "As of now, we [meaning he and 'Hobbs & Shaw' co-star Jason Statham] are not in 'Fast 9' because they're getting ready to start shooting."

Even the Rock needs to take a breather from all that action-ing every once in awhile, but considering that his work on 'Hobbs & Shaw' was complete and 'F9' was gearing up to enter production at the time of the MTV News interview, it sure seems like he could have participated. Perhaps there was a different, more drama-laden reason? 

Let discuss why Dwayne Johnson isn't in "F9."

The beef between Diesel and Johnson may have been a factor

It's well-documented that Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel butted heads, and possibly biceps, during the making of 2017's "Fate of the Furious." It was serious enough that the two didn't actually shoot any scenes for the flick together; it only appeared that they did thanks to clever editing. The reason for this? According to Johnson, it all comes down to the fact that he and Diesel have significantly different beliefs and approaches to filmmaking, particularly ensemble films like ones in the "Fast and Furious" franchise that require a great deal of collaboration.

As Johnson explained to Rolling Stone in April 2018, "We were not in any scenes together. Vin and I had a few discussions, including an important face-to-face in my trailer. And what I came to realize is that we have a fundamental difference in philosophies on how we approach moviemaking and collaborating. It took me some time, but I'm grateful for that clarity. Whether we work together again or not."

He went on to tell the outlet that the feud between he and Diesel at been — at least partially — squashed since the making of the eight "Fast" flick. "Right now I'm concentrating on making ['Hobbs & Shaw'] as good as it can be," Johnson said at the time. "But I wish him all the best, and I harbor no ill will there, just because of the clarity we have." In a pretty harsh move, Johnson then said that the Rolling Stone interviewer could "erase that last part about 'no ill will.'"

With time came understanding, however. In September 2019, it appeared that the Rock was finally ready to put all the bad blood behind him — and even teased that he would appear alongside Diesel in the "Fast" franchise sooner rather than later. "Lastly — but not least — I want to thank brother Vin for your support of 'Hobbs & Shaw,'" Johnson said in an Instagram video post from September 27, 2019. "We did it the right way, we did it the smart way, and again brother, I appreciate your support. And of course, all roads lead to one thing: I'll be seeing you soon, Toretto."

Getting real about the Diesel-Johnson feud

Thankfully, neither Vin Diesel nor Dwayne Johnson have fired shots at one another since Johnson's September 2019 Instagram video — though some, like the folks at ScreenRant, believe that the Brit Queenie Shaw (Helen Mirren) calling Dom her "favorite American" in "F9" could be a subtle dig at Johnson, whose character is also American. In June 2021, just before the U.S. release of "F9," Johnson spoke with Men's Health and got admirably candid about what really went down between him and Johnson. 

To hear him tell it, it truly was a matter of Diesel and Johnson not seeing eye-to-eye about filmmaking and acting approaches. Diesel, who has worked as a producer of the "Fast" films since 2009's "Fast & Furious," wanted Johnson to go all the way in bringing his character Luke Hobbs to life, and he realizes he put a lot of pressure on Johnson in the process.

"It was a tough character to embody, the Hobbs character. 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,'" Diesel explained. "That took a lot of work. We had to get there and sometimes, at that time, I could give a lot of tough love. ... I would do anything I'd have to do in order to get performances in anything I'm producing."

It sounds like Diesel has since changed his tactics as a producer, easing up on the gas pedal, so to speak, and balancing tough love with kindness.

Will Dwayne Johnson return to the Fast and Furious franchise?

With the past in the past and Dwayne Johnson's reference to Vin Diesel's character included in his Instagram video from 2019, it seems that Luke Hobbs could be back in the franchise in the future. However, there isn't much time left to make this happen. 

The 10th "Fast and Furious" installment will be split into two parts, and will close out the series Universal Pictures has dubbed "the Fast Saga" (via Entertainment Weekly). It doesn't seem like Johnson would let an old, now-resolved feud keep him from appearing in the final film of the series that he clearly loves, and in that January 2019 interview with MTV News, he even opined that there was some "unfinished business" between Hobbs and Toretto. While nothing has been officially confirmed, the rumor mill has gone into overdrive reporting that anonymous inside sources insist that Johnson will return for "Fast 10." 

It's also worth mentioning that John Cena — who appeared in "F9" as Dom's long-lost brother Jakob — has done a bit of blabbing to the press about the possibility. Asked about the likelihood of an onscreen showdown between himself and Johnson, two former WWE stars who have squared off a time or two in that capacity, Cena all but confirmed that it was happening — before seeming to catch himself. "I will say this, man, it's amazing the parallels that 'Fast' runs with WWE," Cena said. "In 'Fast,' never say never" (via ComicBook.com).

We're not going to be the ones to say "never," and in fact, we're going to go ahead and say "probably." Bringing the Rock back into the mix for the conclusion of the high-octane Fast Saga is likely to yield only one result: the fastest, most furious flicks of the whole bunch.