An in-depth forensic investigation into who is more likely to win the ongoing beef between The Rock and Vin Diesel
Entire families have been torn apart over issues less contentious than “where do you stand on all this Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson versus Vin Diesel stuff, then?” This was the question my editor had put to me, and I had to admit, it wasn’t one I wanted to answer in haste, not with all of history to be on the wrong side of.
It was a tough one, a real doozy: A cryptic post on The Rock’s Instagram calling out a “candyass” co-star. The culprit? A one Vin Diesel, identified by the boys down at TMZ. Apparently, Johnson felt Diesel lacked professionalism on set, and wasn’t afraid to let him know about it. An interview in Rolling Stone has Johnson stride up to Diesel’s trailer for a “few discussions.”
“What I came to realize is that we have a fundamental difference in philosophies on how we approach moviemaking and collaborating,” Johnson griped at the time before revealing the two hadn’t shot a single scene together on the latest picture. But that wasn’t even the half of it. Unfortunately, Diesel hadn’t given his half, which might have otherwise made this a real open and shut case.
The way I saw it, if there was real beef simmering between the pair, and it wasn’t simply Johnson ‘working’ one of his famous wrestling ‘shoots’, then it was a question of whichever man’s philosophy best epitomised the Fast and Furious franchise.
Or rather: which man lives their life fastest and most furiously?
Who Is Faster?
A very obvious determinant of ‘fastness’ would be whichever man could beat the other in a foot race. It would be easy if I could have simply Googled “who is faster at running the rock or vin diesel” but alas, nobody on the entire internet had thought to establish this essential fact until now.
Fast Five features a scene which has the pair embroiled in a foot chase through a favela, and which culminates in Vin Diesel’s character escaping. However, this is fiction, and I couldn’t rule out the probability that this conclusion had been chosen to advance the movie’s narrative, and not according to dogme 95 realism. I would have to delve deeper. I would need clips of both men sprinting without cinematic enhancement.
I sourced a clip of Vin Diesel called ‘Vin Diesel Robot Run’, in which Diesel appears to attempt a sprint that - according to Ltrain225 - looks decidedly robotic. I downloaded a speed gun app, and it clocked his time as 10.2km/h.
But then I read a selection of recent reviews:
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried Lil Dab might have me sussed. What if the app was useless? I’d have to resort to the only technology I could trust: myself.
My rudimentary calculations ascertained that Diesel runs robotically between point A to point B at 12.41mph, which would be 19.97km/h. Who was right? Technology, or me, my imprecise calculations and Lil Dab? My gut told me: we were.
For my comparison, I located a clip from ‘WWE Raw’ where Johnson returns (as ‘The Rock’) to help Mick Foley fend off the heel stable ‘Evolution’ ahead of their match at Wrestlemania 20. We’re led to believe that Evolution had no idea Johnson was backstage, but I suspect they knew all along. Anyway, he sprints all the way from the top of a ramp to the ring, giving us some precious speed data.
I played hard and loose with the exact distance, due to not being able to properly work out the camera perspective, but the gap between Diesel’s 12.41mph and Johnson’s 16.17mph leaves a fairly decent margin for error.
The real bods might come down on me here and say that the calculations are imprecise, that Diesel is being measured in a staged clip where he only runs for 0.25 seconds, or that Johnson has aged by 14 years since his run and is unlikely to be able to maintain that speed now. Truly, the only real measure would be having the pair square off in a race in a controlled environment but until Diesel is willing to set this event up and clear his name, I had to award the first point to Johnson.
Having already established who literally hits the ground running quickest, it was time to decipher who was the fastest at hitting the ground running figuratively.
Vin Diesel scored his first role in a Greenwich Village play when he was 7, which seems impressively prodigal although it should be noted that the play was called ‘Dinosaur Door’ and was aimed at children. I had a friend who was a background character in Tracey Beaker around the same age, and he hasn’t done anything at all since.
Fast forward to 23, and Diesel’s popping up in the Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams drama Awakenings, though this feat is, again, tempered as he appears uncredited. Being an invisible presence in Hollywood - a town of somebody’s - makes you a nobody.
Johnson, on the other hand, was a 19-year-old on the cusp of playing in the NFL as a defensive tackle, until an injury meant he had to repurpose as a pretend wrestler in the (then) WWF.
He made his first ring appearance at 24-years old - as ‘Rocky Maivia’. Everybody hated him, and he was supposed to be loved. It wasn’t until two years later when he became’ The Rock’, a self-styled ‘People’s Champ’, that Hollywood would come a-calling.
Back to Diesel. Stung from his credit-snub, he set about guaranteeing his own success by writing, directing and starring in his own short film Multi-Facial in 1994. The short was screened at Cannes, and his own feature Strays, followed in 1997, before the big dog Steve Spielberg plucked him from behind a camcorder and stuck him in Saving Private Ryan in 1998.
Johnson had his debut in 2001’s The Mummy Returns, and has been in a near-constant stream of similarly massive blockbusters ever since. However, until 2016’s Moana (and then later, Jumanji in 2017), his biggest box office success came exclusively through the Fast and the Furious series, produced by Vin Diesel.
Diesel, meanwhile, has several franchise behemoths to his bow: Fast & The Furious, Riddick, xXx and Guardians of the Galaxy. But so what? Does this have anything to do with speed? I didn’t know, so I made a graph.
It took me a good 10 minutes before realising all I’d done here was managing to ascertain that both Diesel and Johnson age at the same rate. There could be some argument that Diesel is the fastest to have been born, and because my head was so spun from making such a pointless graph, I decided to award him a point for that.
But in career ascendancy, how can you say who made it first? To my mind, ‘making it’ constitutes being in a film which makes at least $100 million bucks at the box office, and Vin Diesel managed that in Saving Private Ryan, aged 31, while it took Johnson until 2008’s Get Smart (age 37) to achieve the same.
But what if the naysayers argued that this was a nonsense metric? That as Diesel hadn’t been a lead in Saving Private Ryan, by my logic, any two-bit extra who got capped in that beach scene could also claim to have ‘made it’. No. This wouldn’t do.
Thankfully, Diesel’s first lead role which grossed over $100 million bucks was 2001’s Fast & the Furious, aged 34. This settled it: Vin Diesel was both faster at winning the sperm race, at making his debut screen appearance and at earning $100 million big ones.
But is that career ascendancy? Could you not argue that Diesel’s film career began as a no-mark in 1990 (11 years before he earned $100 million bucks), or even in Dinosaur Door (27 years before he earned $100 million bucks), while Johnson only turned his hand to acting in 2001, seven years before earning $100 million bucks? I decided that you could argue exactly this, and gave Johnson a point.
It occurred to me that it would be churlish to ignore the ability to drive fast, just because I knew literally nothing about cars.
As far as I know, despite dedicating eight films to illegal street racing, neither have engaged in the pursuit off-screen. This meant there was little data to gauge either’s actual driving ability, and so pitting them against one another in a hypothetical race proved difficult.
I came up with a workaround: if they were drag-racing on an infinite stretch of tarmac, the man with the fastest car in his garage would surely win.
Using info from a trusted source - some channel on Youtube called ‘ARich’ - I was able to scope both Diesel and Johnson’s car collections.
Though Johnson’s Pagani Huayra boasted a top speed of 238mph, Diesel’s Lykan HyperSport 2014 was able to best that with a whopping(?) 245mph.
With this in mind and realising I had no idea of how either cars or racing them actually worked, I awarded the point to Diesel for simply owning the fastest car.
It’s often said you can run your mouth, and I was more than happy to put their two tongues through their paces. By measuring how quickly they could speak.
I simply didn’t have time to analyse every single instance of either man talking that has so far been committed to video. I also couldn’t be bothered. Furthermore, it would be unfair and unscientific to compare the two according to their films. Certain roles would have required them to speak at different speeds, according to the character. For instance, as ‘Groot’ in Guardians of the Galaxy, Diesel is limited to repeating the 3-word phrase “I am Groot” for the entire duration. And as ‘The Rock’ in Wrestling, Johnson was allowed to smacktalk at a fervent pace.
I needed recordings of both men saying stuff at the absolute maximum speed they could handle. I needed both men rapping.
I unearthed a WWE segment in which Johnson repurposed Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ to have a go at his rival John Cena. Isolating one verse, he racks up 33 words over 12 seconds (2.75 wps). In the interests of fairness, I ensured to count all the syllables too - in the case that one really long and difficult to pronounce word had got chucked in. Over 12 seconds, Johnson managed 44 syllables (3.67 sps.)
Alongside cultivating an interest in singing (including this haunting rendition of Rihanna’s ‘Stay’), Diesel could be found rapping on several bootleg recordings - from this session with legendary musician Arthur Russell in 1986, to a recent cover of Post Malone’s ‘Congratulations’ Diesel decided to record in Spanish.
Here, Diesel manages 38 words and 59 syllables over 16 seconds. This gives him results of 2.38 wps (slower than Johnson) but 3.68 sps (fractionally faster than Johnson.) In the first controversial decision of my investigation, I had to follow a gut instinct which told me syllables were a better measure, and awarded the point to Diesel.
They say time is money, and so logically, whoever earned the most money in the least amount of time, would be saving the most time, which is money. So in the interest of saving time and money, let’s get this one out of the way quicksmart.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Diesel is worth $200 million, and Johnson $220 million. Given the former is 50 and the latter is 45, Johnson’s earning speed ($4.88 mil per year of life) significantly outstrips Diesel’s ($4 mil pyol), making him a comfortably faster earner.
Money isn’t everything. Diesel has made 32 movies during the time he’s been an ‘active’ actor (1990-2018), compared with Johnson’s 39 (2001-2019), meaning he’s completed a paltry 1.1 movies per year of his acting career, while Johnson pumps them out at the rate he pumps iron - which is to say: 2.16 movies per year.
Who Is More Furious?
Supposing that that both men have a large degree of autonomy over which roles they choose, it stands to reason that if either men stars in a film where they kill a lot of people, they will have actively sought out that opportunity. And that, my friend, is bloodlust. Plain and simple. a definite indicator of fury.
According to alloutofbubblegum.com, Diesel has killed 248 people onscreen, which is frankly gentle and fundamentally non-furious stuff when compared with Johnson’s 341 murders.
Sometimes words speak louder than actions. And so it was, that I found myself laboriously wading through every on-the-record statement each man had given over the course of their entire life to see how often they’d resorted to profanity, when I glanced at the clock on my computer and noticed something alarming. Time was slipping through my fingers, the way the entire point of an article seems to evade your grasp only after you commit 3000 words to it. You don’t notice it slipping away, until it’s too late.
I resolved to shorten my field of research, focusing on the arena where humans are at their most furious: social media
Whoever swore the most online, would surely be the most furious. Turning to the Seven Dirty Words that were prohibited from use on US television, I cross-referenced their usage against the two men’s respective Twitter accounts.
Johnson’s 202 obscenity-laden missives constitute 0.9% of his Twitter output, which give him a Wholesomeness Factor of 99.1%. In stark contrast, Diesel has only tweeted 21 times, and they’re all pure, giving him a 100% Wholesomeness Factor. But this isn’t a family show, it’s a fury contest, and he’s brought flowers to a damn knife fight.
This one’s tenuous, and arguably not scientific, but I felt that you can usually tell if someone’s furious according to the bulging veins inflating across their noggin. It’s probably pent up blood pressure, on account of barely repressed anger. On account of being furious. See?
Anyway, I pulled two recent pictures of the pair from our stock image resource and analysed the veins.
I then factored in my bizarre decision to choose two pictures where you could only see one side of each man’s head, and decided my results should probably be doubled with with likely facial symmetry. That’s 2 veins for Johnson, 8 for Diesel.
If we were talking an actual fight - not a WWE ‘wrestling match’, not a staged sequence in Fast Five where ‘Hobbs’ and ‘Toretto’ ‘fight’ - an actual fight, the actor who was most likely beat the other to a bloody pulp would absolutely be more furious.
Knowing next to nothing about actual fighting - and so as a result completely disregarding stuff like Diesel’s training with legendary martial artist Tony Jaa, or how punishing Johnson’s wrestling moves might be if he decided to take off the kid gloves - I decided their bout could only come down to one thing: swoleness.
Whichever man had packed on the most muscle mass must have done so with a furious dedication to swoleness.
According to the possibly dubious user-curated body-comparison site BodyWhat.com, Diesel weighs 102kg and has a Muscle Index (? no idea ?) of 5, compared with Johnson’s 5.7% for his 118kg. Using completely unexplained science, the site determined that Johnson was 14% swoler than Diesel, and so could definitely batter him if it came down to it, imho.
Finally, we must assess who’s the most furious party in this feud. Let’s be honest, this whole ‘angle’ is being carried by one man and one man only: Dwayne Johnson.
He’s called Vin Diesel a ‘candy ass’, thanked everyone who worked on The Fate of the Furious except Diesel, made repeat allusions to the feud in the press, went public with the intel that the two didn’t film a single scene together, suggested that he would drop out of the franchise, and stated that he still holds “ill will” towards Diesel.
Vin Diesel’s response? An ambiguous Instagram post promising to tell everyone “everything’ in time - which he hasn’t yet in the near 2 years since - and calling Johnson “Uncle Dwayne.” He’s getting called a candy ass by someone he’s calling a close family member, and a more senior one at that. That’s deference. Diesel’s heart is not in this fight.
“I’m the first multicultural megastar in Hollywood,” Vin Diesel once boasted. “They didn’t exist. To see another multicultural star come up is something I am very proud of. I’m always rooting Dwayne on.”
And though he may be the first, and (debatably) the fastest, Diesel’s certainly not as furious. He’s getting gentle in his old age. Could he outrun Dwayne The Rock Johnson? Possibly, provided they weren’t actually running, but were embroiled in a chase determined by a number of increasingly arbitrary factors like rapping speed.
Could he hold his own if he was caught? He’d barely put up a struggle - calmly accepting his fate like a jobber consigned to being People’s Elbowed through the Spanish announcer table.
(Illustrations: Tristan Cross)