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‘F9’: Vin Diesel and Paul Walker’s Pre-Fame Trip to Mexico Still Makes the ‘Fast and Furious’ Actor Emotional

Vin Diesel still talks about Paul Walker while promoting 'F9'. The 'Fast and the Furious' franchise has kept Walker's character alive, and Diesel will never forget something Walker told him on a 2001 publicity tour.

F9 is the eighth Fast and the Furious movie Vin Diesel has made, including his cameo in Tokyo Drift. As Dominic Toretto, he’s the leader of the gang on every mission. While promoting the latest movie, Diesel shared a memory of traveling with the late Paul Walker while promoting the 2001 original.

Vin Diesel behind the wheel in F9
Vin Diesel | Universal Pictures

Diesel spoke at a F9 Zoom press conference on June 12. He recalled how Walker was the first to articulate to him what the Fast and the Furious franchise would ultimately mean to him. F9 opens June 25 and we’ll have more with the cast this month. 

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker were stumping for the original ‘Fast and the Furious’

Ever since the 2001 release of The Fast and the Furious, every sequel has been a tentpole release. Back in the Spring of 2001, it was just a movie on the Universal slate. They sent the stars to MTV’s Spring Break house, in Cancun, Mexico that year, to tell the kids all about their fast car movie

Paul Walker and Vin Diesel accept the MTV Movie Award
L-R: Paul Walker and Vin Diesel | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

“Ironically for me, when people ask about the memories, my memories aren’t just the ones that you see on film because everything behind the scense contributes to what you see on film,” Diesel said. “I’ll never forget being in an airport in Mexico. The movie hadn’t come out yet. It was maybe April of 2001 and Paul and I, we’re sitting on the floor with our bags to the side about to board a commercial flight back home. We had just flew down there for the MTV Spring Break thing.”

Paul Walker told Vin Diesel something he’ll never forget 

Walker had a feeling they had made something special. Diesel will never forget Walker preparing him for the franchise The Fast and the Furious became. And it really took until the fourth movie for Diesel to return full time and accept the legacy. 

F9: Vin Diesel crouches and stars menacingly
Vin Diesel | Universal Pictures

Has ‘The Fast and the Furious’ Franchise Recovered From Paul Walker’s Death?

“I remember him leaning over to me and saying, ‘Take all this in,’” Diesel said, getting emotional as he tried to finish the story. “I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Take in the fact that people are walking over our legs, almost kicking our bags and not paying any attention to us.’ I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because after this film comes out, there too will go our anonymity.’ And I think that is telling of this journey that we were about to go on. So that is a memory.”

How did Paul Walker from ‘Fast and Furious’ die?

On Nov. 30, 2013, Walker appeared at a charity event. He took a ride as a passenger in a Porsche that crashed, killing both driver Roger Rodas and Walker. Walker was midway through filming Furious 7 at the time. They were able to complete the film using Walker’s brothers as doubles, deleted footage from previous movies and CGI. The franchise has kept Brian O’Conner alive in the films.

“Obviously the biggest setback is the loss of my brother in the middle of filming,” Diesel said. “I felt like my brother was ripped away from life and from the planet. I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to articulate it right, but it is clearly the thing that’s A, been the biggest tragedy in my life and the most life-altering moment.”