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Actors Who Refused Roles In The Fast & Furious Franchise

Due to a combination of savvy marketing, a powerful international draw, the ability to not take itself too seriously, and a willingness to evolve, the Fast and Furious franchise has become a veritable money-printing machine. The movies have made over $5 billion worldwide, with Furious 7 and The Fate of the Furious both drumming up over $1 billion each. Not too shabby!

It's easy to forget just how successful the Fast and Furious movies are with the likes of Marvel and Star Wars soaking up the spotlight, but they have become some of the most reliable blockbusters in Hollywood — and they've got the impressive ensemble cast to prove it. However, not everyone the filmmakers have approached has agreed to hit the gas with the franchise.

Today, we're looking at some of the stars who had their chance to hit the road with a role in a Fast and Furious movie, but turned it down. Close your eyes and imagine these actors behind the wheel.

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington would have been a massive get for the Fast and Furious franchise. The series has boasted its fair share of big time actors, but Denzel is on another level. Not only has he been incredibly successful at the box office, but he's also taken home two Oscars for his roles in Glory and Training Day.

Deadline writes that Universal approached Denzel to appear at the end of the sixth film, which would segue into him playing the role of the main villain in Furious 7. He apparently was not interested, however, and turned down the opportunity. Ultimately, the role that he seemed lined up for went to Jason Statham. Statham is obviously a big star in his own right, but not quite on the same level as the two-time Oscar winner.

Around the same time Furious 7 was released, Washington appeared in Fences, The Equalizer, and the remake of The Magnificent Seven. He's obviously doing fine, but maybe we'll have an opportunity to see him get Fast and Furious in a later sequel or spinoff.

Deepika Padukone

You may be unfamiliar with the name Deepika Padukone unless you're a big fan of Bollywood. However, the model/actress is hugely popular in Indian cinema, and that makes her a star in the largest film-producing industry in the world. The Fast and Furious franchise owes much of its success to the international market, so it makes sense that they'd want to recruit worldwide stars into the fold. They tried to do just that with Padukone in Furious 7, but she had to turn down the offer.

At the time, Padukone had never appeared in an American film, as she told India Today. She had already committed to a domestic film and didn't feel right backing out, but she also said she would "love" to do a Hollywood film in the future.

She got her wish just a few years later — and in a role alongside Vin Diesel as well. Padukone appeared in xXx: Return of Xander Cage in 2017, and has reportedly been cast in xXx 4. Not quite the same level as Fast and Furious, but it's certainly something.

Ja Rule

When the Fast and Furious franchise began in 2001, Ja Rule was one of the biggest rappers in the world. He was in the process of making the transition to acting, and appeared in a very small role in The Fast and the Furious as a character named Edwin, who went up against Paul Walker and Vin Diesel's characters in a street race. He did... not win.

Interestingly, Ja Rule could have gone on to be one of the faces of the franchise if he'd been interested. In an interview with Grantland, John Singleton (the director of 2 Fast 2 Furious), recalled, "Ja got too big for himself. He turned it down. He turned down a half a million dollars [to be in the sequel]." Singleton said he repeatedly tried to get Ja Rule to the table, but eventually decided to swap his character out for one played by a different rapper, Ludacris, who has since appeared in over half of the Fast and Furious films.

Redman

Apparently, Ludacris wasn't the first potential replacement for Ja Rule — originally, rapper Redman was eyed to take on the role.

At the time, Reggie "Redman" Noble had found success as both a solo rapper and part of the Wu-Tang Clan, and he had started to move into the world of acting. Once Ja Rule dropped out of 2 Fast 2 Furious, Redman was apparently geared up to play the replacement role of Tej. He apparently had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts — the TV series Method & Red came out around the same time, as did a few other projects. Instead, the role went to Ludacris.

Just like Ja Rule, Redman's acting career has been fairly stagnant since this role passed him by. It would have been interesting to see how the franchise might have evolved if either one of them had been cast instead of Ludacris.

Timothy Olyphant

Even though the Fast and Furious franchise has become a blockbuster series over the years, it took a few films for it to find its footing and figure out what it wanted to be. Most of the main players have stuck with it in over the long haul, but the core group didn't come together overnight. In fact, in 2017, a producer revealed that Timothy Olyphant was initially targeted to star in the first film.

Apparently, when The Fast and the Furious was originally pitched to Universal, the studio agreed to produce the film as long as Olyphant was cast as the lead role of Dom Toretto. Olyphant turned the role down, which brought the filmmakers to their backup, Vin Diesel. Diesel took the reins of the franchise and has appeared in almost every film since. Producer Neal Moritz is curious how things would have gone with Olyphant at the helm, but billions of dollars have convinced him the Diesel was the right fit for the role.

David Tennant

The Fast and Furious franchise sure loves its European baddies. In recent films, we've seen Luke Evans, Jason Statham and Idris Elba all show up as central antagonists — an impressive roster that also almost included David Tennant. Yes, we reportedly almost saw the onetime Doctor Who tangling with Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson.

According to Latino Review (via ScreenRant), Tennant was in talks with director Justin Lin about taking on a major role in Fast & Furious 6. We don't know which part he was being considered for, but it seems likely that it would have been one of the Shaw brothers — roles that eventually went to Evans and Statham. Whatever ultimately went down during negotiations, Tennant wound up moving on to other projects.

Tennant has proven he can do over the top villainy very well — his performance in Jessica Jones as the despicable Kilgrave gave audiences one of the best Marvel villains to date. We certainly wouldn't mind seeing him get behind the wheel in the Fast & Furious franchise.

Eminem

Another rapper who was targeted for the franchise but had to turn it down, Eminem was actually approached twice to be a part of the Fast and Furious films. Both times, prior commitments kept him from coming on board — and both roles he turned down would go on to be major parts in the films.

Eminem was actually offered a very big role in the first film — he was approached to take on the role of Brian O'Conner, which eventually went to Paul Walker. When Eminem was approached to take the role, he was currently in development of his own film, 8 Mile, and had to remain available for it. Just think – Eminem could have been one of the faces of the franchise.

According to Fuse, Eminem was later approached to do a song for the soundtrack of Furious 7. He again turned it down due to a different film: he was already heavily involved with the movie Southpaw, and he did not want to have multiple songs competing with one another. The song he turned down was "See You Again," which was eventually recorded by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. It became a massive hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for several weeks.

Eliza Dushku

Eliza Dushku was extremely in demand when the original Fast and Furious was in development. Apparently, the role of Mia Toretto was not only offered to Dushku, but was reportedly written specifically with her in mind.

Dushku turned the role down for unknown reasons, but she was extremely busy at the time with both television and film projects, so it isn't hard to imagine why. Many different stars were reportedly attached after Dushku passed: Jessica Biel, Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bijou Phillips, and Natalie Portman are all rumored to have auditioned for the role before it went to Jordana Brewster.

Most of those stars have gone on to have long, successful careers, including Brewster herself. A few of them would have definitely had their careers supercharged, however, if they'd played Mia Toretto.

Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel returned to the franchise fold later, but he did refuse an offer to appear in 2 Fast 2 Furious — and the reason is fascinating.

Diesel was offered $25 million to star in 2 Fast 2 Furious, but didn't like the script or the direction the series was headed. He viewed the first film as a classic and said, "I was an idealist and, to me, the script wasn't continuing the story... They were capitalizing on the brand and milking the success of it as long as they could."

Of course, since Diesel's full-time return to the franchise with the fourth installment, the Fast and Furious movies have morphed from a story about cops out to infiltrate a street-racing gang into a wildly over the top saga fueled by globetrotting action, espionage, and an increasingly casual relationship with the laws of nature. "Continuing the story" will only take you so far.

Dave Bautista

This one is a bit of a cheat because, as far as we can tell, Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista has never actually been offered a role in the franchise. That said, his refusal of a fan pitch was enough of an adamant refusal that we had to include it.

Once the news broke that John Cena would be appearing in F9, a fan tagged Bautista on Twitter with this pitch: "@TheRock and @JohnCena will get a Fast and Furious spin off" and "@DaveBautista will be the villain." Bautista responded with two nauseated emojis and the words "Thank you for your consideration... #IdRatherDoGoodFilms"

Now, we love Bautista, but that's a pretty bold response from a man who has starred in not one but two Escape Plan sequels. Besides those two missteps, however, Bautista has been fairly choosy with most of his roles. Never say never, but that big time dunk on Vin Diesel's franchise will probably keep "The Animal" out of Fast and Furious films for a while.