When Paul Walker tragically lost his life at the end of 2013, the end of the Fast and Furious franchise seemed inevitable. Surely the seventh film would be wrapped up with a fitting tribute to the star and everyone would move on?
Thanks to a behemoth box office haul - perhaps propelled by sentimentality and morbid intrigue surrounding Walker's death - the nitrous-fuelled series smashed those expectations with the announcement that Vin Diesel would return.
Beyond that - and the !*$%umption that the title will be some sort of variation on Fast & Furious 8 - little concrete information is known. Occasionally Diesel will stoke the fires by dropping interesting morsels, but there's a distinctly mysterious air about the hotly-anticipated eighth film. Which is a strange thing to say, given the lack of precedent for franchises that go beyond 3 or 4 without sucking increasingly.
Presumably before Djimon Hounsou signed on to the seventh film to play the other big bad alongside Jason Statham, it turns out that someone at the top wanted Denzel Washington to play the villain.
According to Deadline, Washington was offered the key role for the 8th film, which would have been set up at the end of Fast 7. Clearly, things changed when he turned it down and that villain tease was written out. But, apparently the desire for someone of his clout and profile is still in line to be brought in.
Universal want somebody massive to help kick on the franchise in the post-Brian period as it builds to a final climax. And that sort of crescendo requires a move that would be deemed bigger and badder and bolder than what has come before. Not your Luke Evans calibre actors: real Oscar level stars.
Like The Rock.