John Cena has nothing but kind words to say about Finn Cole, the actor who played young Jakob Toretto in F9's 1989 flashback scenes.
John Cena has nothing but kind words to say about Finn Cole, the actor who played young Jakob in F9. Fast & Furious fans were stunned when the first trailer for F9 revealed newcomer Cena would be playing Jakob Toretto, the never-before-mentioned brother of Dom (Vin Diesel) and Mia (Jordana Brewster). Cena went to great lengths to keep this a secret in the lead-up to the big reveal, and F9 explained just how the rift between the siblings grew in the past. For a franchise about family, F9 pushed the limits of that theme by having its main villain be blood-related to the heroes.
Of course, in order to best explain Jakob's role in Dom's life, the film had to feature some Fast & Furious flashbacks. F9 revisited 1989, when Dom and Jakob worked together on their father's pit crew. For these scenes, Vinnie Bennett played Dom, while Cole portrayed Jakob. Cole is best known for his roles on TNT's Animal Kingdom and Peaky Blinders, where he has played Michael Gray since season 2. With F9, the actor notched his biggest film role yet.
Cena spoke to Digital Spy about the many developments from F9 and shared some praise for his younger counterpart. First, Cena acknowledged that the portrayal of young Jakob was rather important to him. "A character has to have an arc, they have to have a journey. We could take this out of entertainment and we can talk human to human. If I'm the same human being as last year, something's wrong. We always have to evolve, we always have to grow," he said. This, of course, extends to his villainous character, and Cena was ultimately very pleased with how Cole did. "Finn mastered a young Jakob. I'm so glad I didn't have time to corrupt. He did beautifully," he said. "It was a big role and a lot of expectations on that, and he pretty much filmed Fast & Furious 0. He filmed the prequel [to the series] and did an amazing job."
The flashbacks in F9 gave new meaning to Dom's backstory and therefore his entire arc across the Fast & Furious franchise. It also enhanced the character of Jakob, who was virtually a blank slate for fans before the movie began. That Cole and Cena were able to craft a very human arc for Jakob is both a testament to them and the story itself. Though the overall Fast & Furious timeline might not always work per se, it's cool to see how director Justin Lin and the creative team have chosen to expand this universe.
The story might have just begun for Jakob. Cena has expressed interest in returning for Fast & Furious 10 and 11, and - spoilers for F9 - he did survive the end of the movie. Whether this could then pave the way for more Jakob flashbacks remains to be seen, but it's clear the movie found a good performer in Cole. Even if F9 is the only glimpse audiences get into Jakob's past, it did well at establishing who he was before everything fell apart. That isn't too surprising, since this franchise never does anything by halves.