'Fast & Furious 9' Officially Casts John Cena

John Cena will appear in Fast & Furious 9, Universal Studios confirmed Friday afternoon.

The Blockers star's character is unknown, but the studio described him as a "badass," reports Deadline. Cena will come in to replace Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who is not expected to appear in the film.

The new film will be written by Dan Casey, from a story by director Justin Lin. Production will start this month, with Universal targeting a May 22, 2020 release date.

Cena's casting is not a complete surprise as Vin Diesel teased his involvement in a cryptic April 25 Instagram video, which ended with Cena popping in to wave at fans.

Fast & Furious 9 will be the first film in the franchise since the smash success of F. Gary Gray's The Fate of the Furious. The film is one of the highest-grossing movies ever made, taking in $1.239 billion worldwide.

The new film is expected to also feature Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez in their familiar Fast & Furious roles. Rodriguez recently said she would only return to the franchise if Universal hired a female writer, a demand she said Universal Pictures executive Donna Langley agreed to.

During an event in London last month, Rodriguez said she was frustrated by the lack of scenes she had with other actresses, especially Brewster.

"I can count with two hands how many times I spoke to my female colleagues. Like Jordana, who played the sister. I've been in the franchise for 16 years, and I can count on both hands how many times we've actually had a conversation on screen, and I thought that was pathetic," Rodriguez said in May. "And I said if I'm coming back, I really want there to be a female writer to give it a female voice, and finally they showed me some love."

As for Cena, he has followed in The Rock's footsteps as a WWE star who successfully transitioned to movies. He has also proven his versatility, starring in the comedy Blockers and the Transformers spin-off Bumblebee. He was most recently seen as himself in Fighting With My Family.

Cena is also trying his hands at gameshow host. He will host the revived Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? for Nickelodeon. The series debuts on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

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Cena also recently appeared at BookCon in New York, where he opened up about his children's book series Elbow Grease. The books provide a hopeful message to young boys who feel pressured to be competitive. The next book, Elbow Grease vs. Motozilla, hits stores on Oct. 8.

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