In early 2000, actor Paul Walker had wrapped up filming on The Skulls with director Rob Cohen. Cohen secured a deal with producer Neal H. Moritz for an untitled action film for Universal Pictures, and approached Walker for his idea of a dream action movie, with the actor suggesting a mash-up of the films Days of Thunder (1990) and Donnie Brasco (1997). Soon thereafter, Cohen and Moritz brought him a Vibe magazine article published in May 1998, which detailed an undercover street racing circuit operating in New York City, and suggested a story that was to be a re-imagined version of the film Point Break (1991), but set to follow Walker as an undercover cop tasked with infiltrating the world of underground street racing in Los Angeles. Upon hearing this, Walker signed on immediately; finding his co-star proved more difficult. The studio warmed toward the idea of Timothy Olyphant in the role of Dominic Toretto, due to the success of the blockbuster Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), but he declined. Moritz instead persisted on Vin Diesel following his performance in Pitch Black (2000), with Diesel accepting after proposing several script changes. Upon release in June 2001, the film shattered box office and critical expectations, and a 2002 sequel was green-lit by September.
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