Following years of speculation, which kicked off with Johnson dubbing a then-anonymous male co-star a “candy ass”, Diesel finally explained why the two Fast & Furious co-stars fell out.
The actor, who also produces the franchise, claimed that he felt he needed to improve Johnson’s acting ability while the pair worked together, as audiences “associated [him] with wrestling”.
“My approach at the time was a lot of tough love to assist in getting that performance where it needed to be,” Diesel told Men’s Health. “As a producer to say, ‘OK, 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 – [Johnson’s character] hits you like a ton of bricks.
“That’s something that I’m proud of, that aesthetic. That took a lot of work.”
Fans, however, haven’t been convinced by Diesel’s claims.
“But he also can’t act so what did he teach him...??” joked one confused fan.
“The idea of Vin Diesel giving acting advice to a fellow actor is something else,” wrote another.
Someone else on Twitter deployed the famous Spider-Man meme in a tweet mocking the feud.
“I think the way to thread the needle here: The Rock is a much better actor but also more annoying than Vin Diesel,” one fan wrote.
Another wrote: “The Rock is Laurence Olivier compared to Vin Diesel. This is hilarious.”
Another took Diesel’s side: “Vin Diesel unquestionably the one to root for in Vin V Rock.”
Others also mocked Diesel’s reference in the interview to the famed Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, who directed surrealist art films including La Dolce Vita and 8½.
“We had to get there and sometimes, at that time, I could give a lot of tough love,” Diesel said. “Not Felliniesque, but I would do anything I’d have to do in order to get performances in anything I’m producing.”
“I need audio of Vin Diesel saying ‘Felliniesque’,” joked one person.
Johnson does not appear in this month’s F9 – the ninth entry in the Fast & Furious franchise. This week Diesel claimed that the cast and crew’s goal while filming the movie was to make it “the best movie ever made”.