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Vin Diesel talks ‘magic’ of Paul Walker

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Opposites attract, especially in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, which gave fans the unexpectedly perfect pairing of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in the original 2001 film.

“The ’90s was characterized largely by an East Coast/West Coast beef: I was a quintessential New Yorker, he was a quintessential LA boy. It was already so unlikely that we would be not only brothers but bond the way that we did,” Diesel, 53, tells USA TODAY about the friendship he and Walker formed making “The Fast and the Furious,” which celebrates its 20th anniversary on Tuesday.

The first chapter of the series, now up to nine films (plus one spinoff), introduced Walker as undercover cop Brian O’Conner and Diesel as famed street racer Dominic Toretto, whose crew O’Conner is tasked to infiltrate while investigating a series of vehicular hijackings. And it’s the relationship formed between those characters that became the heart of “Fast” as the films added more personalities and shifted from plots around illegal street racing to epic stories of heists, spycraft and saving the world, always with family at its core.

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Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in the original "The Fast and the Furious" from 2001.
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“When I did the first one, it was a cool movie where I got to run around in race cars, shoot a gun and kiss a hot chick. That’s where I was at in my life then,” Walker told USA TODAY in November 2013 during one of his last interviews from the set of “Furious 7.” (He died in a car accident days later at age 40 on a break from production.)