The relationship between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson is complicated.

Diesel is featured on the new cover of Men’s Health magazine to promote the latest entry in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, “F9”, and in it he talks about working with Johnson.

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“It was a tough character to embody, the Hobbs character,” Diesel says. “My approach at the time was a lot of tough love to assist in getting that performance where it needed to be.”

Vin Diesel – Photo: OLAV STUBBERUD for Men’s Health
Vin Diesel – Photo: OLAV STUBBERUD for Men’s Health

The actor explains his “tough love” approach to helping build the Hobbs character.

“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 says. “That’s something that I’m proud of, that aesthetic. That took a lot of work. We had to get there and sometimes, at that time, I could give a lot of tough love. Not Felliniesque, but I would do anything I’d have to do in order to get performances in anything I’m producing.”

Vin Diesel – Photo: OLAV STUBBERUD for Men’s Health
Vin Diesel – Photo: OLAV STUBBERUD for Men’s Health

In 2016, though, reports surfaced the pair feuded on the set of “The Fate of the Furious”.

“Tension has been building up for months,” a source told People at the time. “Vin has been having problems with the Rock because the Rock keeps showing up late for production. Sometimes he doesn’t show up at all and he’s delaying the production.”

Johnson would star in his own spinoff of the franchise, “Hobbs & Shaw”.

Diesel also remembers Paul Walker and ending the franchise at “Fast 10”.

“We walked into this bodega, and people just cannot believe that Dom and Brian are walking into a bodega… and one of the guys said, ‘Brian.’ One of the guys called him Brian. And when we left, and we were in the car, he said, ‘That’s my favourite thing. It’s my favourite thing when people call me Brian.’ And it always stuck with me because he was so adamant about it. To him it was a beautiful compliment. I still think about it to this day, because it just says so much, that there was so much pride in this iconic character he created. It was his creation, his superhero, and that moment represented a simpler life, I guess. And it made me want to protect that even more, because that mountain looming that is ‘Fast 10’—that’s what we promised each other, that we would take this franchise and end it at ‘Fast 10’.”

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Vin Diesel – Photo: OLAV STUBBERUD for Men’s Health
Vin Diesel – Photo: OLAV STUBBERUD for Men’s Health

In the interview, Diesel also talks about the importance of the “Fast” franchise in his life.

“When people are in the middle of the process, trying to manifest something, maybe they don’t spend enough time thinking about how it will be remembered—how it will be regarded,” he says. “But at the same time, you have to identify the significance of it, in order to get the most out of yourself—and the most out of the people that you’re inviting on the journey.”

He goes on, “So it’s not uncommon that I’ll give a speech on set where I’ll say, ‘We’re making this franchise for people that are no longer with us,’ which is very real, and the implications of that are very heavy. ‘But at the same time, we’re making the franchise for the people that aren’t born yet.’ When you have a unique perspective of creating a franchise that spans generations, you realize, Okay, we all have to be as brilliant as possible. We have to reach as high as we can. Because it may be more important than just a movie — more important than two hours of escapism. There may be something more at play.”