Imagine if Brian O’Conner was played by a popular rapper when the first installment of the Fast & Furious franchise was being cast, because that almost happened. In fact, several other big names were considered for the role which jump-started The Fast Saga in 2001. Of course, the role eventually went to Paul Walker, who portrayed the part of Brian until the actor’s tragic passing in 2013.
Brian was first introduced in The Fast and the Furious as an undercover cop from the LAPD tasked with bringing down Dominic Toretto. In order to infiltrate the crew from the inside, Brian went under the alias of Brian Earl Spilner and joined the street racing community. By the end of the first movie, Brian came clean and joined forces with Dom, essentially becoming another lead protagonist in the franchise. To avoid jail time, Brian agreed to do another undercover operation in 2 Fast 2 Furious before his promotion as an FBI agent in Fast & Furious. Brian put his profession behind him to work alongside Dom and the crew as they got caught up with crime lords and gang leaders.
Brian’s last appearance in The Fast Saga came in Furious 7 due to Walker’s death during filming. His character married Mia Toretto and the pair had two children. Although Brian is still alive in the franchise, it’s unclear how his absence will be explained since Mia is involved in the upcoming installment, F9. Even though Walker is still sorely missed, his casting almost didn’t happen. Actors Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale were top choices from the studio and producers involved. Even more surprising was the fact that Marshall Mathers, best known as Eminem, was highly considered for the role of Brian.
When casting began for The Fast and the Furious, Eminem was coming off of two major studio albums, “The Slim Shady LP” and “The Marshall Mathers LP.” Other than music videos and small cameos, the rapper didn’t have much acting under his belt. That didn’t stop the studio from wanting a big name attached to the project. It’s unclear if Eminem was ever offered the role of Brian, but Walker took the role and Eminem’s focus was shifted to the autobiographical film, 8 Mile. Eminem probably had no idea that the franchise would last for two decades and it’s unclear if he would have wanted to participate that long. With 8 Mile, he found another outlet for his creativity.
The 2002 hip-hop drama film was based on Eminem’s life and how he grew up with the rap scene in Detroit. 8 Mile was a major success and featured “Lose Yourself,” a song that wound up winning an Academy Award. Although Eminem might have had more job security with Fast & Furious, he certainly wouldn’t have achieved those kinds of accolades with what stemmed from 8 Mile. Maybe Eminem will put out a song or two on the final installments of The Fast Saga to finally get his name attached to the franchise.
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