According to the Huffington Post (h/t Yahoo!), everything changed when the third film in Universal’s blockbuster franchise was about to be released. Diesel was reportedly asked to make a small cameo at the end of Tokyo Drift, but the actor was in the middle of a battle with the studio over the rights to the Riddick franchise, which had become something of a passion project of his. Universal didn’t want to make another Riddick film after The Chronicles of Riddick had flopped, but Diesel was determined to reprise the cult-favorite character at least one more time.
And that, explained Diesel’s friend and Riddick director David Twohy, is exactly when the action star had a stroke of genius.
“Vin, being the savvy guy he is, said, ‘Well, give me the rights back.’ And they didn’t want to do that,” the filmmaker revealed in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I think this was about the time that Fast 3 had already shot and they were testing it. Maybe it wasn’t testing as well as it should have and they decide, ‘Maybe we need a cameo from Vin,’ because he wasn’t in that movie. So, I do believe that in his savviness, Vin said, ‘Don’t pay me for that cameo. Just give me the rights back.'”
That one-minute cameo not only allowed Diesel to make the third Riddick movie last year, but it also opened the door for him to reprise his most iconic role as Dom Torretto… four more times.
So this weekend, as you watch Diesel and his friends execute death-defying stunts, drive cars out of a plane, and infiltrate a black-tie gala in Abu Dhabi in Furious 7, make sure you say a small thank you to the criminal with night-vision that made it all possible.
Furious 7 opens April 3, 2015.