Entertainment Movies Vin Diesel Says He Had a 'Strange Feeling' Paul Walker 'Sent' John Cena to Play His Brother in 'F9' Vin Diesel has played the character of Dominic Toretto in the Fast & Furious franchise for 20 years By Katie Campione Katie Campione Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on June 23, 2021 11:01 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Vin Diesel, John Cena. Photo: getty (2) Vin Diesel has played the character of Dominic Toretto in the Fast & Furious franchise for 20 years. So, when it came time to cast someone to play his brother for the upcoming F9: The Fast Saga, the actor admitted the search gave him a bit of "anxiety." "Obviously I'm multicultural. You could've cast anybody to be my brother," Diesel, 53, said during an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show. "For two months before I went into filming, I created a shrine where I could do all the combat training, all the stunts and I had the Charger there to simulate the garage to get into the Dom state of mind." He continued, "Now the idea of the brother worked great on paper, but when the time came to cast it, anxiety. Who could you cast to be Dom's brother and 20 years into the game? The audience knows our mythology so much." That is until John Cena nabbed the role of Jakob Toretto, a casting that Diesel believes the late Paul Walker — who starred alongside Diesel in the Fast and the Furious films before his death in 2013 — had a hand in making happen. "[Cena] comes into the shrine one morning, and I had this strange feeling...that Paul Walker had sent him," Diesel said, adding that the moment was "very magical." Vin Diesel Says Casting His Son Vincent, 10, in F9 Was Director's Idea: 'I Can't Take the Credit' Diesel's son, Vincent Sinclair, also made his movie debut for F9 as the younger version of his dad's beloved character. Detailing the experience of working with his son, 10, on the film while appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon , Diesel said: "I can't take the credit. It was Justin Lin, the director." "But we've been making these movies for so long, that every time one of my children were born, I was usually working on a Fast and Furious movie," the actor continued. "So the director and the cast all have their own relationship with my children. And it was [Lin's] idea for my son to play young Dom." "And the irony is, the thing I remember the most, was coming home that day. Because when you see the movie, it's kind of a deep scene, so Dom is in a deep state of mind," Diesel added. "And my son was watching me work the whole day, and it wasn't until I got home that I saw a twinkle in his eye because he had finally seen his father come home, as opposed to being Dom Toretto the whole time." Never miss a story - sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. vin diesel/ instagram Vin Diesel Gave Dwayne Johnson 'a Lot of Tough Love' When He Joined Fast & Furious Franchise F9, the ninth installment in the iconic film franchise, was originally scheduled to drop in May 2020 but was pushed back by the COVID-19 pandemic. Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren and John Cena also star. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly back in January, Diesel opened up about the delay of the film and how he is "definitely eager to share it." "When you make a good movie, your first goal is to make something that you can be proud of, and in the film business you learn from the very beginning that when the film gets released, even without the pandemic, is rarely in your control," he said at the time. "But when you really think about the quality of the movie, there's more time you have to work in post-production, more time to get the shots right; it does give you a little bit of a cushion." RELATED VIDEO: Vin Diesel Says Daughter Pauline Inspired Sweet Moment in F9: 'I Got It From Her' "I want to get the movie out for all of the great fans who have been waiting for this chapter - and yet look at the world that we live in," he continued. "I can only say that when you see the movie you will be excited and, hopefully, you will be really, really happy." F9 premieres in theaters on Friday.