The fast and the farcical: the Rock v Vin Diesel, round two | Dwayne Johnson (The Rock)

If you have ever sat through a Fast and Furious movie, you’ll know that the series revolves around two things: bald meatheads doing improbable things in fuel-inefficient cars, and family. Whenever there’s a break in the action, Vin Diesel will gather all the characters together and press the importance of family on to them like some sort of berserk Crossfit Peggy Mitchell. And, beyond that, the message was that, as the characters are family, so too were the actors.

But in 2016, in a now-deleted Instagram post, the Rock put a bomb under that notion. Angry with the on-set behaviour of an unnamed Fate of the Furious co-star (thought to be Vin Diesel), he cryptically ranted about the concepts of both candy-asses and chickenshits. In that moment we all learned that Father Christmas was dead. The Fast and Furious family was really no family at all.

Diesel and Johnson in Fast Five
Hilarious fragility … Diesel and Johnson in Fast Five. Photograph: Universal Pictures/Allstar

That was five years ago now, and things have moved on. The main Fast and Furious franchise continued to trundle along with Vin Diesel at the helm, while the Rock went on to make a spin-off feature with Jason Statham. But in a new Vanity Fair interview, Dwayne Johnson has torn the whole can of worms open again.

While at first, the Rock expressed some level of contrition about the post, claiming that his decision to take the beef public “wasn’t my best day”, he couldn’t leave it there. He went on to describe the subsequent summit that took place with Vin Diesel, at the end of which “it really became just crystal clear that we are two separate ends of the spectrum”, before offering a withering line-by-line response to Vin Diesel’s own assessment of the situation: “[Diesel] has put down their differences to them being two alpha males (Johnson: ‘Sounds like him to say that, sure’; characterised Johnson, perhaps slightly patronisingly, as Hollywood’s second ‘multicultural megastar’ whom he’s proud to see following in his footsteps (Johnson: ‘He talks like that’); and said that ‘I protected Dwayne more than he’ll ever know … but he appreciates it. He knows he only has one big brother in the film world, and that’s me.’ (Johnson: ‘I have one big brother and it’s my half brother. And that’s it.’)”

Guys, you know what this means? The beef is back on. The best beef in all of Hollywood history, between two hulking great men whose macho posturing looks more and more like hilarious fragility, can only get more beefy from here. After all, these are two men whose desire to literally be the bigger guy resulted in one of the most genuinely inept attempts at forced perspective ever committed to screen.

These are two men who have clauses in their contracts that stipulate they can never lose a fight on screen, lest anybody doubts their heaving machismo. In The Fate of the Furious, a scene was written that ended with the Rock lying at Vin Diesel’s feet; the Rock had it changed so that he sat instead like a man. Meanwhile, Vin Diesel pays his sister to count how many times he gets punched in fight rehearsals, so that he can still “get his licks back in”. This willy-waving lunacy isn’t limited to the pair – in Furious 7, both the Rock and Jason Statham were so unwilling to lose an on-screen fight that a helicopter was hired to come in and genuinely destroy the ground they were standing on to force a stalemate.

And this is the sort of amazing dumbassery we have to look forward to again. Because Vin Diesel not responding to the Vanity Fair piece would be the equivalent of losing a fight, and Vin Diesel hates losing fights. So he will, in stronger terms. And then the Rock will retaliate, in even stronger terms. And so on and so on until their chemistry becomes so undeniable that they’ll end up channelling their hatred into a big-budget remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? And it’ll break all known box-office records, and then they’ll both run for office together, and win. And then, while they’re squabbling about who gets to have the comfier seat on Air Force One, they’ll accidentally set off a nuclear bomb and destroy the world. And we’ll deserve it, and I’ll be happy.

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