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The Exact Moment Vin Diesel Knew He Wanted John Cena To Play Fast 9's Jakob

The "Fast and Furious" franchise has evolved in numerous ways since it started all the way back in 2001 with "The Fast and the Furious." Perhaps one of the biggest ways in which the series has changed is in the sheer number of characters who've been brought into the fold. One of the newest additions, introduced in "F9: The Fast Saga," is the character of Jakob Toretto. Portrayed by John Cena, Jakob not only serves as one of the film's antagonists, but he also just so happens to be Dom's (Vin Diesel) estranged younger brother.

While it seems likely that Jakob will return in "Fast and Furious 10," given that the ending of "F9" leaves the door wide open, landing Cena in the first place was a major get for the franchise. He's also not the first wrestler-turned-actor who's starred in the series, as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has had a big part of the action in the past and even starred in his own spin-off film. Still, Cena's involvement was no small thing, and it turns out that there was a particular moment when Diesel knew that Cena was the perfect choice to bring Jakob to life.

Vin Diesel felt like John Cena was sent by Paul Walker

During an interview with FredCarpet in 2021, Vin Diesel talked about his experience in trying to find the right actor to play Jakob in "F9." He said that he considered many different actors for the role, but he ultimately settled on John Cena for the role after the latter visited him at his gym. After Cena's visit to his "Dom Shrine," as he calls it, Diesel revealed that he believed that the late Paul Walker had sent Cena to him.

"That day I posted on Instagram, without talking to anyone, a picture of him and me, or a video of him and me," Diesel said. "And I said, 'Thank you, Pablo.' Because at that moment, I thought that my brother Pablo had sent him to play Jakob." For those confused, "Pablo" is an affectionate nickname that Diesel had for the late Walker. And while there may have been many capable actors who could have stepped into the role, it sounds like the choice to cast Cena was as much a spiritual one as it was a matter of talent.