The riders of titans in the entertainment industry are legendary; Rihanna reportedly demands a fur rug backstage for her to walk on barefoot, reports suggest Justin Timberlake likes his door knobs disinfected, and Jay-Z apparently requires seven dressing rooms and “good quality” peanut butter and jelly.
Now we can add to that list the request of thin-skinned tough guy, Vin Diesel: He has to win his fights.
Sources tell The Wall Street Journal that the actor became so unhappy that his Fast and Furious co-star Jason Statham appeared to be getting in more blows than he was during a rehearsal for the seventh movie, that he suggested a numerical points system to calculate just how many blows each of them were landing.
Although producers pushed back against that particular concept, the WSJ piece provides a fascinating insight into how alpha-male mega stars are increasingly demanding they not appear weaker than their co-stars on screen for fear of damaging their personal brands.
(Diesel was famously called a “candy ass” by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, after tensions between the two men escalated during filming on the franchise in 2016. In a scene in The Fate of the Furious that showed Johnson to be lying on the ground at Diesel’s feet, Johnson insisted his character at least be sitting up, the WSJ says, quoting a post-production crew member.)
According to WSJ sources, Statham, 51, negotiated an agreement with the studio that limits how badly he can be beaten up on screen while Diesel, 52, has his younger sister, a producer on the films, keep count of the number of punches he takes.
The fights ensure “every character has their moment, and that all are seen as formidable opponents,” a Universal spokesman told the WSJ. “Each Fast character is a hero to someone watching, and we never forget that.”
Diesel, Statham, and Johnson all declined to comment.
“It’s like that old trope where an actor comes in and wants more close-ups,” said one editor. “They want more muscles.”