Vin Diesel, co-star of the "The Pacifier" Movie!
The tough-looking and buff Guy's popularity skyrocketed during the debut of the 2001 movie "The Fast & The Furious", which earned $41 million in its opening week, where he played the role "Dominic Toretto". Mark Vincent (he apparently got the name Vin Diesel while he was working as a bouncer) was born July 18, 1967, in New York, NY and was raised by his astrologer and psychologist mother, and stepfather, a teacher and theater director. Growing up in an artist's housing project in Greenwich Village with his non-identical twin brother Paul and younger sisters, a young Diesel led a life of uncertainty, not knowing his biological father. However, despite his low-class upbringing, it was obvious that he wanted to be a performer from the age of three, after his mother had to stop him from trying to step into the ring at the circus -- he wanted his performance to start. A chance encounter that led to Diesel's acting career occurred when he was seven years of age. Vin and his friends had broken into a local theater, and rather than getting caught and reprimanded for trespassing, Diesel and his buds were handed scripts and were offered $20 dollars per week, on the condition that they show up after school every day. This served as Vin's first "real" paying job.
But his road to success wasn't paved with good luck and fortune. The closest he came to acting professionally was in a Theatre of the New City production, in addition to several very off Broadway plays. Diesel had to take on jobs such as bouncer at several exclusive New York City nightclubs in order to finance his film dreams. He had taken matters into his own hands when he left Hunter College in New York in the midst of studying for an English degree, in order to get an earlier start in filmmaking.
When his mother brought home the book Feature Films at Used Car Prices in order to encourage Diesel, it pushed him to take control of his destiny and create his own movies in which to star. He did, and his filmmaking, writing, producing, and starring role in the film short Multi-Facial (based on his experiences of trying to make it as an actor) screened at Cannes Film Festival in 1995. It received positive reviews, and the extremely low-budget film -- at a cost of $3,000 in a total of three days of shooting -- led to bigger things.Despite the lackluster success of his next independent feature, Strays, which was a Sundance entry in 1997, his performance in Multi-Facial was noticed by a certain important person in Hollywood. Steven Spielberg caught his performance in Mutli-Facial and created the role of Private 1st Class Adrian Caparzo in Saving Private Ryan for Diesel. He also impressed the director of the animated film, The Iron Giant, and thanks to his guttural voice, he was cast as the voice of the title character in the 1999 film.
While it took a while for Diesel to convince filmmakers to take him seriously, 2000 was a year of star-making roles for the actor. Two of his films opened on the same weekend -- the sci-fi Pitch Black and drama Boiler Room -- two roles that couldn't be more different in the acting range. Diesel added yoga and pilates to his regular workout for his Pitch Black role as Riddick, while he saw his scummy role as Chris the telemarketer in Boiler Room as a way of redeeming himself for the job he once held as a telemarketer, selling overpriced tools.But it was in the summer of 2001 that Diesel proved he could draw in audiences as a leading man, in the testosterone pumped The Fast and the Furious, as Jordana Brewster's older brother, Dominic. The film was tops at the box-office and took in millions, and served to prove Diesel's star appeal even further. After a low-key role in 2001's Knockaround Guys, audiences will see more of Diesel in XXX, slated for a 2002 release and co-starring fellow intimidator Samuel L. Jackson, and The Chronicles of Riddick, slated for 2003, which Diesel had a hand in writing.
While Vin Diesel has always wanted to differentiate himself from other thespians, he certainly stands in a league of his own: In addition to his directing credits for Multi-Facial and Strays, Diesel also flexed his producing muscles for XXX (his production team is called One Race) and used his writing skills for The Chronicles of Riddick and his indie pictures.
Known for his trademark voice, (almost as recognizable as James Earl Jones'), his ability to play a multitude of races (he apparently has traces of Irish, Italian, German, Dominican, Mexican, and a lot of other ethnicities), and his intimidating, overbearing frame, film critic Roger Ebert has dubbed Vin Diesel the action star to watch out for in the next few years. Vin Diesel has been allegedly linked to model/actress Summer Altice, and his Fast and the Furious co-star, Michelle Rodriguez.
Vin Diesel Transitioning From Box-Office Giant To Epic Auteur
Actor plans to star in and direct 'Hannibal,' consulting with Mel Gibson. With a first-place weekend that had "The Pacifier" sucking in an estimated $30 million, it seems that rumors of Vin Diesel's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Just a year ago, the muscle-bound master of self-promotion had fallen into a high-profile slide that had "A Man Apart" separated from the top of the box office and "The Chronicles of Riddick" getting ridiculed after a mediocre run. Now, with hair on his head, an elephant underneath him and an old friend in the wings, Diesel has the power to move forward with phase two of his master plan.
"You know what the goal is and how hard I've been working at this," Diesel said of his career, which he launched by writing, directing and starring in the 1995 Cannes Film Festival-screened short "Multi-Facial." Now that the action and comedy worlds have been conquered, Diesel has focused his steely gaze on becoming an award-worthy thespian once again. Don't laugh: A high-profile preview on the recent Academy Awards broadcast has Hollywood wigging out, for more reasons than one.
"Did you see the Oscars? Did you know it was me?" Diesel asked excitedly. "You didn't know it was me? You're kidding me. You're kidding me! Isn't it wild?"
The clip, aired during a tribute to renowned director Sidney Lumet, had Diesel delivering dramatic lines in a scene from their upcoming collaboration "Find Me Guilty." The star was virtually unrecognizable because of what was missing (guns, explosions) and what had been added (body fat, a courtroom, a head of hair). "That is such a trip. It's what an actor wants. Could there be a better way to introduce a character than to have people not really know who it is?"
"Guilty," currently aiming for an autumn release, casts Diesel in the biographical story of a key participant in a landmark mob trial. "The character I play is named 'Fat Jack' DiNorscio, who was imprisoned for a 30-year-sentence while defending himself and 20 other mobsters in the longest mob trial in history. It was an incredible experience, because I was being directed finally by the quintessential actor's director."
Diesel dove into the mind of the caged convict, sensing an opportunity to remind the world that he can do more than just blow stuff up. "I would lock myself in my apartment when I wasn't on set. So if I got off work on Friday, I'd stay in my apartment and then go back to work Monday. The added advantage for doing this was I was trying to gain weight," Diesel laughed. "That helped. Lots of pizzas — and ice cream every night before I went to sleep."
As for the briefly glimpsed head of hair, the man with the famously polished dome avoids confirming where his hair ends and where the special effects by Sy Sperling begin. "You know, I do what I can with what little I have."
After the one-two punch of "The Pacifier" and "Find Me Guilty," Diesel plans to use the combination of box-office assuredness and dramatic prowess to get his long-awaited pet project "Hannibal" off the ground. The biopic, about the third century B.C. Carthaginian general who attacked Rome from the top of an elephant, had stalled when Diesel calculated a budget in the $200 million range, and it didn't help that historical sword epics such as "King Arthur" and "Alexander" had trouble finding audiences. Now with a smaller budget, Diesel is intent on starring in and directing what he proudly calls his "Braveheart."
"We're going to have all systems go on 'Hannibal,' " Diesel said. "I've been working on my shots. In fact, my storyboard artist is a guy named Sylvain Despretz, who was Ridley Scott's storyboard artist on artist on 'Gladiator.' It's going to be exciting. Just wait for that one; it's going to all come together. I will not let you down."
For pointers on "Hannibal," Diesel has sought out the advice of close friend and advisor Mel Gibson. "I'll tell you what," Diesel said, " 'The Passion of the Christ,' I think, liberated a lot of filmmakers. Anyone is lucky to talk to Mel Gibson, period. Anybody is lucky to talk to Mel Gibson that's an artist, that's ... any kind of filmmaker. The fact that 'Hannibal' is somewhere in the 'Braveheart'/'Passion' genre makes it all the more a right decision to talk to Mel Gibson about what you're doing and run things by him, because you never get better advice than from someone who's already gone through that. How many people are going to have that 'Braveheart' experience, understand what it's like to play a character like that while simultaneously directing it? I'm lucky to be in that conversation."
"I like the idea of making a movie and not being governed by all the things that govern a $200 million movie," Diesel said of the film's smaller budget. "I want to do things like make it multilingual, non-English."
After "Hannibal" gets Diesel to the point where people look to him for action, comedy, drama or directing any of the three, he plans on returning to the science-fiction trilogy that he visited this past summer with "The Chronicles of Riddick."
"Riddick? Well, you know that I've always had 'C2' planned," he conceded. "I'm silently — and I shouldn't even say this — I'm silently working on 'C2' with some of the outlines that were created when I first thought of doing the three films."
Where Vin Diesel goes from there is anybody's guess, but one thing is certain as of this moment: With a $30 million opening weekend at the top of his résumé, he could announce a remake of "Citizen Kane" and someone would bankroll it. Stay tuned — that just might be the centerpiece of phase three.
Vin Diesel Bringing us Animation Rockfish
Vin Diesel's production company, One Race Films, is teaming up with Blur Studio to make a CGI movie based on Blur's short "Rockfish."
Variety reports Diesel will voice a lead character in the movie, which is expected to target an older audience.
"Rockfish" is about a man on an alien planet and follows his attempts to catch a giant 'rock fish' that lives underground and causes trouble for the miners.
Diesel and George Zakk will produce with Blur's Tim Miller directing; Miller wrote and directed the original short.
Vin Diesel outstrips Travolta
Vin Diesel with his latest film ‘The Pacifier’ outstrips duet of John Travolta and Uma Thurman in ‘Be Cool’. According to North American box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, ‘The Pacifier’, in which Diesel plays a Navy Seal who has to protect five children from the malicious characters from their father’s past, gathered estimated $30.2 million in its opening weekend.
Be Cool, with John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing again, took the second place with its $23.5 million. ‘Doctor Love’ Will Smith with the comedy ‘Hitch’ has got the third place in the chart, while last week's leader, drama ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman’, was moved to the number four.
Oscar winner ‘Million Dollar Baby’ by Clint Eastwood climbed from sixth to fifth place with its $8,5 million. It is followed by mystic ‘Constantine’ starring Keanu Reeves making $6 million last weekend.
A S.E.A.L. Out of Water: Vin Diesel Radically Switches Gears
In starring roles in such blockbuster action adventures as XXX and The Fast and the Furious, Vin Diesel has quickly developed a reputation as one of Hollywood’s fiercest—and most globally popular—male action heroes. Now, with The Pacifier, Diesel deftly switches gears, revealing the funnier, more humanly vulnerable side of his larger-than-life personality, while still using his trademark physical skills to pull off the film’s fun-filled action and suburbia-shocking stunts.
From the first time he read the screenplay for The Pacifier, Diesel was drawn to the role of Shane Wolfe, knowing it would give him a unique opportunity to reveal himself to audiences as he never has before. He was especially intrigued by the idea of playing a man who turns the prototypical notion of a muscle-bound action hero on its head, and in so doing, playfully unraveling his own tough-guy persona. Though Shane Wolfe starts out as a steely soldier who seems to be an unmovable rock, both inside and out, he soon comes face-to-face with his own comic foibles—and yearning to be part of a family—as he is forced to babysit a group of kids who turn out to need him in ways that have nothing to do with his guts, brawn or ability to knock out one-armed push-ups.
“To me The Pacifier felt like a true classic Disney family comedy,” says Diesel. “It’s about a man who’s never really known a family, a guy who, as a Navy S.E.A.L., has always avoided getting close to anybody. Only now, without any training for it, he’s forced into having to try to be a caring father figure to these five unruly kids. Shane is a great character because he’s completely amazing at just about every military and fighting maneuver known to man— but the most everyday chores, like changing a diaper, just bring him to his knees. So he’s about to go through some very big changes. And he is about to be surprised by just how ridiculously tough, and yet how deeply rewarding, the family life he thought he would never have can be.” Diesel continues: “I was immediately attracted to this story because I thought it would be a whole lot of fun, not to mention very liberating, for me to explore comedy and a character who undergoes a real transformation. I liked that even though there’s some great action in the film, the focus is just as much on humor, emotion and the relationships Shane forms with the Plummer family. I have to say after doing the movie that it was probably the most enjoyable film experience I’ve ever had.”
The Pacifier came to Diesel through Spyglass Entertainment, who hoped the screen hero would consider trying something new and different in the form of this kid-centered family adventure. Says producer Gary Barber: “We thought The Pacifier was a great family comedy and we also thought Vin Diesel was the one action star with the acting range to really be able to carry off the role. It’s not that dissimilar to when Arnold Schwarzenegger came out of his Terminator movies to do Kindergarten Cop and Twins. Vin has such an extremely likeable personality, and we felt this transition would really work well for him. Once on the set, he proved to have incredible comic timing.”
Adds producer Roger Birnbaum: “There are not too many actors who could play Shane Wolfe. You need someone physically imposing with tremendous action skills, of course, but also someone willing and able to break out of that genre and suddenly transform into a softer, kinder, funnier version of that. We were thrilled to have a chance with The Pacifier to let people see Vin Diesel’s talent in a whole new way.”
Sums up producer Jonathan Glickman: “There’s just something phenomenally funny about seeing the world’s toughest action star trying to take control of things with a baby on his back and another baby strapped to his front! Along with the magical relationship that developed between Vin and the kids, we knew we had something special.”
With Diesel set in the role of Shane Wolfe, the producers next approached Adam Shankman, who has become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after comedy directors on the heels of such hits as The Wedding Planner and the recent Bringing Down the House, which set off comic sparks between the odd-couple pairing of Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. “Adam is a very funny, very bright populist filmmaker who we thought was the perfect choice,” explains Birnbaum. “He did a tremendous job of managing a motion picture that combines an enormous number of elements—action, comedy, emotion, big stars, little kids, and even a duck. I also think that Vin really came to trust Adam’s instincts—which was a great help as he made the transition to the kind of actor that he proves himself to be in The Pacifier.”
Shankman was immediately enthusiastic about the project. He got a kick out of the way The Pacifier transforms a bandolier-sporting Navy S.E.A.L. into a bottle-wielding babysitter, and saw the potential to create a unique mix out of the story’s spirited comedy, kidoriented action and poignant tale of a family rediscovering the power of their love for one another.
“Vin Diesel’s Shane Wolfe is a stranger set loose in a strange land,” Shankman comments. “The world he finds himself in at the Plummer’s suburban household seems to be a world that has absolutely nothing to do with the military training that has so far been his entire life. Yet, somehow, when he applies everything he’s got—his physical prowess, his strategic mind and finally his heart—to these five out-of-control kids, amazing things happen. I really enjoyed the humor of the film’s premise. I mean, where else are you ever going to see Vin Diesel changing a diaper? And I especially enjoyed the way it’s combined with a story about rediscovering the importance of family.”
Vin Diesel's Next Calling Is 'Hannibal'
Although nothing is set yet, and although he's cut the budget from $200 million to $50 million, Vin Diesel remains determined to star and direct in an epic about a elephant-riding conqueror of 3 B.C.
" 'Hannibal' is forever haunting me on the horizon, waiting," Diesel tells Zap2it.com about his own personal passion project. 'Hannibal' is at the summit of the Alps right now, calling my name."
The action star has talked for years about doing a biopic about the young general who crossed the Alps on elephants to attack Rome. He says he's been inspired by his mentor Mel Gibson, who directed "The Passion of the Christ" despite great odds and opposition.
Before studios nix the project as another big-budgeted "Alexander" failure, Diesel whittled the budget down and is now trying to get the project started.
Borrowing from another Gibson inspiration, he plans to make the movie in multiple languages to reflect the various cultures of Hannibal's army.
Meanwhile, he's working on video games based on his favorite fantasy game, Dungeons and Dragons, and wrote a foreward to the book "30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons."
"It's an interesting coffee table book, and I wrote about what Dungeons and Dragons did for me growing up in terms of being a training ground for imagination. The more that you know about Dungeons and Dragons, the more you'll see the thought process that went into the 'Chronicles of Riddick,' that mythology."
The new action hero Vin Diesel on big flicks, bigger bucks and beating James Bond at his own game
If you missed The Fast and the Furious last year, you're probably wondering: Who is Vin Diesel, and why are studios paying him $20 million to make movies?
The 35-year-old New Yorker was best known for his supporting role in Saving Private Ryan, before an antihero car thief in The Fast and the Furious vaulted Diesel into superstar status.
Now, Hollywood believes it has finally found the successor to Schwarzenegger and Stallone. And Diesel is ready to prove his action-hero mettle with his new movie, XXX, playing grungy extreme athlete Xander Cage, recruited to save the world.
We talked up the man about his sudden rise, why he bailed on a Fast and Furious sequel, how bouncing helped (and hurt) his acting career and his surprising choice for a favorite movie.
Does it feel like all this attention has come out of nowhere?
Yes and no. It's something I've been working for and planning on for a number of years. Every movie I've taken, every role I've done has been a means to get to this point. It's not an accident. So, while to some people it may seem pretty sudden, in a way I've been working toward this all my life.
Xander Cage is being marketed as a James Bond for the next generation. Do you think Bond was in dire need of an update?
Definitely. To take nothing away from the Bond movies--I loved them--the Bond character is about as relevant to young audiences as someone like Clark Gable. I mean, Bond wears a suit. No kid today wears a suit.
Xander Cage doesn't have a lot of hangups--he's not going to a therapist. He's a doer of deeds and makes no bones about being the new breed of superagent. In that respect, I think he is the voice of the younger generation. God help us. [Laughs.]
Are you a doer of deeds when it comes to all the stunts taking place in the movie--snowboarding, motocross, rock climbing and all that?
I was more involved with the stunts than the studio would have liked. And it was an issue on several occasions. Every time I went out on my motocross bike, our line producer, Arne Schmidt, would be out following me. But the only time I got hurt was on a snowboard jump in Austria. I got too much air, nosedived and--whack!--landed on my back. Thank God the snow was soft.
Were you into extreme sports before the movie?
Not specifically. But in New York, we did our own version of these stupid things, like riding down Madison Avenue on rollerblades, holding the back of a bus or a cab fender going 50 mph
So, making XXX was another outlet for that kind of energy?
Yeah, and that's good. I can't be as extroverted or crazy and silly and free as I used to be, just being a kid in New York City.
Are you okay with that?
I don't know if I'm okay with that or if I haven't really faced that new reality because I've been so immersed in everything. But it's bizarre.
You had the summer off. How did you spend your vacation?
I backpacked through Europe with room service. I did the actual walking, then I spent the night in some pretty cool places. It's kind of a ritual for me. It's a month of anonymity, walking around the streets, no one knowing who I am. I can ask directions from anyone and they don't have a clue. I needed it then, and I need it now. But at the same time, I was saying goodbye to it.
You don't think you can be anonymous after XXX?
Maybe in Romania. It's a little bittersweet, but I'm not complaining. I'm just making movies to the best of my ability. The rest, I can't control.
Why did you decide to bail on the sequel to The Fast and the Furious?
I can only do so many franchise films. I'm committed to a sequel to Pitch Black...maybe a trilogy of sequels. And I knew going into XXX that I would want to revisit Xander Cage. I put a lot of energy into making that character and the film as good as they could be with that thought in mind. With The Fast and the Furious, I didn't go into it thinking I would make a second one. So, it was an easy choice.
Even with all the money Universal was offering?
Yeah, and no one knows how much it really was. It was a lot of money. You have to think about that. All that money for two months' work--in and out, a guaranteed franchise hit. But hey, it's only money.
And it's not like you're hurting these days. You got $10 million for XXX, and your paydays for the Pitch Black sequel and proposed XXX sequel start at $20 mil. Does that seem a little surreal to you?
The major bucks are interesting. It's hard to talk about the major bucks without sounding ungrateful. But when you're working and continually in the process of something, then you never get the opportunity to step out and think about it. The money is definitely secondary, a byproduct of whatever new lifestyle you have to have to survive as a celebrity. I'll probably need a more self-sufficient residence, because I won't be as apt to go out and be social.
Will that be a big adjustment?
That's a good question. I don't know. I've talked to people I know about handling fame, like Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
And what do they tell you?
Their advice isn't that good. [Laughs.] I think I'm doomed. I don't think there's anything you can do.
You're hesitant to talk about your specific background but your multiethnicity has become one of your selling points. Did you ever think that would come to pass?
There were times over the years that were pretty frustrating. I don't think I was ever cognizant of how I was going to turn it around. I made a short film, Multi-Facial where I played a guy who tries on a different ethnicity at every audition and still can't get a part. That was part of the process. I just kept pressing on, and I think people gravitated toward my work. Steven Spielberg saw Multi-Facial and decided to write a role for me in Saving Private Ryan.
And now you've got people of all races claiming you as one of their own.
Which I think is dope. The world has become this big melting pot, and I think people are ready for a hero who is more ambiguous. Yeah, being multicultural has gone from the Achilles' heel of my career to a strength.
Women certainly seem to have no problem with it. When I saw XXX, women in the audience just erupted every time you took off your shirt. How does it feel being a sex symbol?
That's not a bad thing, although it's a little weird. As a kid, I wasn't a pretty boy. I was never being chased by women.
When did you start to become comfortable around women?
Probably when I worked as a bouncer in New York. When you're bouncing, you're around women so much you lose your inhibitions about talking to them. Plus, the job makes you the hot ticket.
Did bouncing help your career in any other ways?
Well, when you're bouncing, you know how to speak in a way that's as amiable as possible, but there's something you can add to it that's always menacing.
Which is perfect for action roles, right?
Yeah, but then it can backfire, too. A couple of years when I was bouncing, I'd go into an audition and say, "Hi, my name is Vin Diesel. I'm here for this role." And it was like I had a nine-foot gorilla behind me saying, "And if you don't like me, I'm going to beat the shit out of you." Because I was saying, "Hi, my name is Vin Diesel" the same way I'd say as a bouncer, "No, you're not coming in here tonight."
And how does that voice work with women these days?
Quite well, thank you.
Anything remotely serious?
[Smiles.] I'm doing quite well.
Is there anything you haven't accomplished yet that you'd like to do?
I want to make a romantic comedy. I'm a huge fan of It Happened One Night, with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. I've watched it hundreds of times. [He launches into a three-minute scene from the movie, complete with perfect imitations of Gable and Colbert.] I don't see a lot of romantic-comedy scripts. It might have to do with the way I look. But I'll do one. Maybe I'll remake It Happened One Night. I've never waited for anyone to give me anything anyway. So, I'll just have to do it myself.
Hollywood's new antihero Vin Diesel on cars, classics and his Fast and Furious road to stardom
It's every actor's dream: Steven Spielberg plucks you from obscurity and writes a role just for you in his next blockbuster.
For Vin Diesel, that's how it really went down. After screening Multi-Facial, a short Diesel wrote, produced, directed and starred in, Spielberg created a part for him in his WWII epic Saving Private Ryan. That character, Private Adrian Caparzo, introduced Diesel to audiences as a versatile, convincing actor.
Not that he wasn't prepared for it. Diesel started early, appearing onstage at age seven in a Greenwich Village theater company. He went on to do Multi-Facial and the full-length feature Strays before landing Ryan. Then came a breakout role in Pitch Black, as a convict-turned-hero in a skintight black tank top.
This August, he plays a wannabe mobster in Knockaround Guys (alongside Dennis Hopper); next March, he appears in F. Gary Gray's Diablo.
But first, he's putting his career on the fast track as Dominic, a street-racing baddie with a need for speed, in The Fast and the Furious.
Your costar Paul Walker really took this street-racing thing to heart, importing a $65,000 car from Japan. Did it get under your skin in the same way?
No, not me. First of all, I'm a New Yorker. Also, I went directly from The Fast and the Furious to Diablo. I had to cleanse myself of the Dominic character to adopt Sean Vetter...There was no time to bask in that world. One of the best things about this business is that you get to have these little miniature lives.
You've always been mysterious about your ethnic background. Is that intentional?
Yeah. Because I want to you come see my movies. In this movie, I'm of Cuban descent.
It's interlaced there. It's super-super-subtle. We don't have to be clichéd. Just because he's of Cuban descent, we don't have to incorporate all the stereotypes.
In Knockaround Guys, I play a Jewish gangster with a Star of David tattooed on my arm. I'm an urban hero for Pitch Black. My point is, I've been lucky to play all these characters. And I don't hit people over the head with tons of stereotypes to play them.
You've moved effortlessly from something heavy and prestigious to popcorn action flicks. Did you ever think, I'm only doing movies like Saving Private Ryan?
I'm not that guy. I'm not that pretentious. I grew up in New York with this theater thing. I grew up with more integrity than I needed. I grew up in an artists' community, where everyone did art for the sake of art. I think that out in L.A., people try to [choose roles] in a pretentious way. That's not my rhythm.
I also approach all the films I do with equal conviction. That's what people respond to. I don't do Saving Private Ryan and say, "This is a prestigious film; I'm going to act differently." If you see my work, I hope you get that, regardless of the dressing...I'm bringing real shit to the role. That's important to me. That's all I can do. And I think there's a place for films like The Fast and the Furious.
Do you think that realness is what audiences are responding to?
It's because I came into Pitch Black and didn't do the bubblegum sci-fi it could have been. I came into Pitch Black and I did real shit. I came into Pitch Black and treated it like a real film, with a real character who really had a place in our culture and represented something. You know, the Pitch Black character [Richard Riddick] represented anybody who's been ruled out or given up on.
In The Fast and the Furious, just as in Pitch Black, you play a bad guy--yet people are still rooting for you.
I've kind of been exploring this antihero thing and expanding on it. I do different variations, but I stay within that realm. I'm not really attracted to whitewashed heroes. I'm not really attracted to the picture-perfect, one-dimensional hero.
I don't think we get anything from those guys, because they're so unrealistic that you alienate your audience, [so] they never hear what you're trying to say. I think that the flawed heroes are more attractive to me because they're easier to identify with. They're more modern-day mythology, hands down.
You've surely heard that people are looking to you to replace aging action stars like Ah-nuld and Stallone. But you're also replacing dated archetypes who dispatch bad guys with one-liners and kill 100 soldiers with one machine gun.
It's not a one-liner world anymore. The fact that Gladiator gets the critical acclaim it does and the Oscar tells you something. It's not Saving Private Ryan, but that says something about where we're at. Gladiator could have been a cheesy little film, but they approached it with more substance. Gladiator could have been Xena: Warrior Princess.
You have a huge Internet following; Yahoo! alone has 25 clubs devoted to you. Are you aware of that?
I am aware of it. The fan base I've been lucky enough to accumulate is made up of enlightened people. Just smart individuals. Every now and then, I read some fan mail, and these people can write better than me. They could be journalists. I read a piece of fan mail, and it sounds like an essay in Vanity Fair.
So, it's flattering that I'm connecting to people who are really conscious and know what they're talking about and aren't just saying, "You've got a hot body." To hear these people talk about my roles as though they're in a film class is incredibly flattering. It's good to know that people understand what you're doing.
There are also some rumors flying around. I think the press has you dating five different women right now.
And none of them is accurate. Because I'll tell you something: If I'm not playing Sony PlayStation or rereading a classic or watching a goddamned foreign film or watching porn (I'm joking about the porn), my friends and I get on the Internet and find out who I'm dating, and it's always hysterical.
It's really very funny. It's too preposterous to fight. They've linked me up with people I've never met. I assume there's nothing I can do about that...But at this level, I guess it's almost flattering that people care enough to create shit like that.
Classics, eh? What's the last one you read?
I don't know if it's considered a classic. It's not Steinbeck or Miller or Faulkner or anything like that. It's J.R.R. Tolkien. Lord of the Rings.
So, you have a Lord of the Rings thing?
It's so bad. I used to play Dungeons & Dragons, and this is the closest I can get to it now.
Were you a D&D nerd?
I wasn't a nerd. I played with creative people. I played with potheads. There was always a bottle of whiskey at the table. One guy was a cop, and it was on my night off from bouncing at the Tunnel.
As you become more famous and life becomes less ordinary, is it harder to keep it real?
I admire the actors who have not fallen victim to celebrityhood too much. I admire those actors who have kept it about the work. I think I read somewhere that Harrison Ford said, If I talk too much about my private world, when you go to see my movies, you'll be thinking about my private world. You'll be thinking about my breakup.
That's why Bill Clinton couldn't be an actor. The more I can keep it about my work and less about my private life--on any level--the easier it is for you to be entertained.
Vin Diesel stars in "The Pacifier"
Vin Diesel redefines what it means to be an action hero in the heartwarming family action-comedy THE PACIFIER. Diesel stars as Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe who, as an elite member of the world’s fiercest and most highly trained force thought he was prepared to take on any duty no matter how perilous or impossible . . . until he tried baby-sitting.
Assigned to protect the five out-of-control children of an assassinated scientist working on vital government secrets, Shane is suddenly faced with juggling two outrageously incompatible jobs: fighting the bad guys while keeping house.
Replacing his usual arsenal of wetsuits and weapons with diapers and juice boxes, Shane not only must battle a deceptive enemy but wrangle teen rebel Zoe (BRITTANY SNOW), sullen 14 year-old Seth (MAX THERIOT), 8 year-old Ninja-wanna-be Lulu (MORGAN YORK), as well as 3 year-old Peter and baby Tyler – not to mention their off-beat Romanian Nanny (CAROL KANE). But while drop zones, demolitions and destroying enemy targets come naturally to Shane, he has no idea what tough really is until he pits his courage against diapering, den-mothering and driver’s education.
He’s truly a SEAL out of water, and now it’s up to this one-time lone warrior to take on the most important mission of his life: keeping a family together.
Vin Diesel: One Angry Man
Diesel heads to court in new legal drama.
Over the years, certain actors have made movie history by delivering mesmerising courtroom performances. Gregory Peck fought for justice in To Kill A Mockingbird, Jack Nicholson snarled his way through A Few Good Men, and Henry Fonda kept his cool in 12 Angry Men. But now another star is making a bid to join this select group - and it’s none other than Vin Diesel.
Diesel has signed onto a project called Find Me Guilty, and will play a New York mobster who decides to leave behind his life of crime. Fans of the monosyllabic muscle-man might be expecting him to break out the baseball bats at this point, but in fact he deals with the henchmen pursuing him in a slightly more civilised way. Namely, by taking them to court.
It seems like a radical departure for an actor who has more experience battling Necromongers and giant moths than slippery lawyers. But never underestimate a man called Vin. For one, the movie comes with the added clout and authenticity of being based on a true story. For another, the veteran director attached is eminently qualified for the job. Not only did Sidney Lumet helm gritty 70s classic Serpico, but it was he who called the shots on 12 Angry Men back in 1957. Any remaining doubt that he can handle a Mafia-themed legal thriller should evaporate when his current project, The Set-Up, hits the screen: it’s a gangster movie starring James Gandolfini.
Find Me Guilty starts shooting in New York, where Diesel started his career as a club bouncer, this October.
Vin Diesel talks about Riddick's Future
Anti-heroes don't come much more anti- than Richard B. Riddick. At times it seems that virtually everyone he has ever met has tried to kill him — and the feeling's mutual — so it’s lucky for him that he can see in the dark. He saw off a planetful of evil flying beasties in the fabulous Pitch Black, and he's back for more in The Chronicles of Riddick, which opens on August 27.
But if the makers have their way, even that won't be the end for Riddick. No, Vin Diesel and David Twohy have their eyes on a trilogy of Riddick pictures, developing the mythology around the character. We have the lowdown below and it's largely spoiler free, but if you really don't want to know anything at all about the premise of The Chronicles Of Riddick, you might want to wait a couple of weeks to read this.
"From the very, very beginning, when everyone thought it was crazy, I was thinking of The Chronicles Of Riddick as a trilogy," said Diesel. "That would start with the movie you saw, and Pitch Black would act as a prequel that introduced you to the character. So in simple terms, in Chronicles 2 we venture to the Underverse. We knew we could get away with a PG-13 on the first one, but once you go to the Underverse it's rated R, because it's a place where war is the norm and there is constant, constant battling. Then on Chronicles 3 we will see Riddick return to Furia, to deal with the homeland."
Underverse? What is this Underverse? It is mentioned in the new film, but barely explained. So can writer /director David Twohy tell us more?
"We did a lot of talking in this film about the Underverse, and one way of talking about it is the promised land — that this leader of this new Necromonger faith has found. If you want to look at it more scientifically, scientists have this concept of multiverses — multiple universes, y'know. The idea is that this 'verse they talk about, this Underverse, is a parallel universe, and the door to that, the portal to that place, has been found by the Lord Marshal. And he is the one guy who has stepped across, and gazed upon its beauty and its power, and taken a little bit of it back with him. So there's much to be plundered there."
No sequel has been greenlit so far, but these two seem to have enough enthusiasm to make it all by themselves. Unfortunately, it's more likely to happen with $100 million and an expert CGI and design team. So if there's anyone out there with the GDP of a small country to spare, do contact Mr. Diesel or Mr. Twohy and get things moving.
Vin Diesel: Criminal Conviction
In "The Chronicles of Riddick," part one in a proposed trilogy that follows up the 2000 sci-fi thriller "Pitch Black," Vin Diesel plays Riddick, a 26th century convict who can see in the dark. Riddick gets caught up in a war waged by a sect called the Necromongers, who are bent on galactic conquest. In escaping from his subterranean prison cell, he winds up on a Necromonger spaceship, where he faces off against their leader, Lord Marshal. MTV News' Ryan J. Downey caught up with Diesel to talk about the actor's dedication to the Riddick character, the challenge of creating a new sci-fi universe, and the freedom of working from scratch.
MTV: While "Pitch Black" was really character-driven and viewers got to see Riddick go through an arc and figure out his moral compass, "Chronicles of Riddick" is on such a big scale, with its own mythology and huge set pieces, it almost seemed like it was going to be impossible for it to be anything like the first movie. But somehow it managed to stay true to the Riddick character.
Vin Diesel: Very true to the character. The objective was to stay true to the character, consistent with Riddick, and at the same time explore the universe and uncover parts of this universe that, you know, the sky is the limit on. [Director] David Twohy is a genius when it comes to sci-fi, and you can see it in the film. You can see it in the special effects. You can see it in every aspect of the visuals. I came in with [a love of] fantasy, you know, being the kid that played Dungeons & Dragons for so many years, and together we created this sci-fi fantasy with this incredible ensemble cast of actors.
MTV: Shakespearean actress Judi Dench lends a veteran presence to the movie, kind of like how Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart lent credibility to the X-Men films. When they come onscreen, you go, "Wait, I believe this now." It sort of elevates it above the level of popcorn movie.
Diesel: That's exactly what we needed. That's why it was so imperative that Judi Dench would play Aereon [an ethereal being who assists Riddick in uncovering his past], because we needed somebody that could explain, very quickly, the legitimacy of this universe, and no one could do that better than Dame Judi Dench.
MTV: It's pretty gutsy right now, in today's pop-culture climate, to put out something like this, because it's not based on a comic book, it's not based on a novel, it's not a remake of a TV show or something from the '70s. It's like "Star Wars" was in the sense that it's a brand new and fresh world. Isn't that scary at all?
Diesel: Well, you've voiced all of the fears and anxieties that we had going into creating this universe. But it was fun because of that. I mean, that's what was so attractive about doing this. We were actually attempting to create something that was fresh and new and without the support of a comic book and without the support of books that were around for 50 years. ... That was very liberating for us because we didn't have to hold fast to anything that was already created.
MTV: You could make your own rules.
Diesel: We could make our own rules. We could create literally our own universe. That's what was so fun about the whole process.
MTV: The universe is cool, but let's talk about the character. What is it about Riddick that makes you so personally invested in him? You really light up when you talk about him. There's definitely a unique investment with this guy.
Diesel: It started with "Pitch Black." It started when I got the script, when I read this character with such an incredible character arc, when I was introduced to this character that was misrepresented and described by all of the surrounding characters as evil without any real proof of it. It's the ultimate underdog story. I enjoyed the idea of playing a character that is imperfect. He's not only an antihero, he's an imperfect antihero. Very capable, very proficient in many ways, but he is an imperfect character. He's not promising to be righteous. He's not promising to be holier than thou. He's not a whitewashed hero. And I think that allows the viewer and the audience to invest themselves in his spiritual growth. ... You can't assume heroism is commonplace. It's a feat just to understand it, and we go through that process with Riddick.
MTV: And when you see something as extreme as the Necromongers, it brings out some of that growth.
Diesel: It brings out the growth and brings out the necessity for that change and that understanding — if nothing else, understanding his significance in that universe. At the core of it, it's a film about identity and understanding one's significance in the universe, in our world.
Vin Diesel Gets Fat on Movie Set
Vin Diesel suffered for his art on the set of upcoming courtroom drama Find Me Guilty--because he wasn't allowed to work out in the gym.
The toned tough guy plays a mobster on trial in the new film and had to develop "a gut" for the role, so he was forced to give up his training regime and gain 30 pounds.
He says, "I sat in a room for weeks doing nothing; just eating and becoming my character. For me to go that long without working out, and not having the body that I built my identity around, drove me pretty close to crazy for a while.
"But it was fun walking around... parading my gut for the cast."
: Vin Diesel redefines what it means to be an action hero in the heartwarming family action-comedy "THE PACIFIER." Diesel stars as Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe who, as an elite member of the world’s fiercest and most highly trained force thought he was prepared to take on any duty no matter how perilous or impossible . . . until he tried baby-sitting.
Assigned to protect the five out-of-control children of an assassinated scientist working on vital government secrets, Shane is suddenly faced with juggling two outrageously incompatible jobs: fighting the bad guys while keeping house. Replacing his usual arsenal of wetsuits and weapons with diapers and juice boxes, Shane not only must battle a deceptive enemy but wrangle teen rebel Zoe (BRITTANY SNOW), sullen 14 year-old Seth (MAX THERIOT), 8 year-old Ninja-wanna-be Lulu (MORGAN YORK), as well as 3 year-old Peter and baby Tyler – not to mention their off-beat Romanian Nanny (CAROL KANE).
But while drop zones, demolitions and destroying enemy targets come naturally to Shane, he has no idea what tough really is until he pits his courage against diapering, den-mothering and driver’s education. He’s truly a SEAL out of water, and now it’s up to this one-time lone warrior to take on the most important mission of his life: keeping a family together.
Vin Diesel: "The Chronicles of Riddick"
"Pitch Black" collaborators Vin Diesel and David Twohy reunite for "The Chronicles of Riddick," a quasi-sequel to "Pitch Black" that finds Diesel's character, Riddick, battling the Necromongers in a world that's greatly expanded from the confines of "Pitch Black."
Only a couple of characters make the transition from "Pitch Black" to this $120 million-plus supercharged action film. Among the newcomers is Thandie Newton ("ER" and "The Truth About Charlie") who plays the devious Dame Vaako. At the World Premiere of Universal Studios' "The Chronicles of Riddick," I had the chance to talk to Diesel, Twohy, and very briefly to the lovely Newton about the world of "The Chronicles of Riddick:"
VIN DIESEL ('Riddick'):
"The Chronicles of Riddick" has been awhile in the making.
What's the fan reaction been like so far, and what's it like now that the process of making the film is over?
I'm just so excited. "Pitch Black" was a smaller movie and we held fast to the dream and hoped someday that we’d be able to open it up and expose the whole universe. It's surreal. [The fans] are incredible. I think [this type of response] would make anyone feel good. It’s a high. You work so hard to make a quality film, you work so hard to make a film that makes people feel good when they go in, and that allows them to escape for a few hours and get lost in the mythology and lost in the characters. And when you get a response like that, you know that you’ve done something right.
You do a lot of your own stunts in this movie. What would you say was the most difficult thing to pull off?
Jumping off the cliff, holding the rope, and flying through the air 50’ off the ground – suspended in air only to swing down to the ground.
How do you make an anti-hero people love so much, like this character? What is it about this character that’s so compelling to audiences?
I think that the anti-heroes allow people to invest in the character more so than the [perfect hero]. I think that the imperfect heroes allow us to go on the journey with you. When you go on the journey, they have something to invest in because none of us in the audience are perfect. So it’s easier for us to invest in imperfect characters and to go on that spiritual journey with the character.
Did you always intend to do the video game and all the side projects when you started working on “The Chronicles of Riddick?”
No, not years ago. Five years ago I was just worried about – and dreaming to make – “The Chronicles of Riddick” and to follow Riddick into the universe, follow Riddick off of that planet and into the universe. Two years ago we started Tigon Studios just to help out, just to make the video game also impactful and to give the video game some consistency with the movie and to have some kind of authenticity. So there are elements in the video game that explain the movie, an aspect of the movie. It gives you a lot of information.
WRITER/DIRECTOR DAVID TWOHY:
How collaborative was the effort between you and Vin Diesel?
When we started working on it? It was the kind of collaboration where I’d get phone calls at 11:00 at night, “Hey, I got this idea.” Then maybe at 1:30 in the morning the phone would ring again, “Hey, what about this?” 3:00 in the morning, “Maybe I could be underwater, dragging rocks underwater.” “Great, but how does that work in the story, Vin?”
Were you ever tempted to change your phone number?
(Laughing) I moved three times but somehow he hunted me down.
Is “The Chronicles of Riddick” the first of three installments?
You know, we thought about life after this one. But the fans will be the ultimate decider of that. It’s about how they embrace this. If they do, sure. If they don’t, no.
Do you have a script in mind for #2?
We’ve been noodling it.
How close is noodling it to actually setting down an outline?
When does this open – June 11th?
June 12th we’ll know for sure.
Vin Diesel: "XXX" Movie
Does the public love Vin Diesel? Based on the amount of people who lined the streets surrounding the "XXX" Premiere, the answer is a resounding "Yes." The screaming was so loud and so constant at the Premiere of "XXX" that any attempt at interview questions with answers longer than four or five words was pretty much impossible.
If the crowd size was any indication of the box office potential for the action thriller (with a little romance thrown in), then the makers of "XXX" are on their way to box office gold.
Here's a few quotes from the red carpet event, though most of what Vin Diesel said was indecipherable because of all the screaming women.
VIN DIESEL (Xander Cage aka 'XXX')
What's it feel like to be headlining this Premiere and "XXX?"
I grew up in New York and it was far from this. It's a change of pace [to be in Hollywood].
What was the best part of making "XXX?"
The best part of working on this film was working with director Rob Cohen ["Fast and the Furious"] again.
What do you think of all these screaming women?
(Breaking out in an extremely large smile) I think the fans are amazing. I make the movies for them. I was told a long time ago to make the movies for the people.
The turnout at this Premiere is tremendous. Can you believe the amount of support for this film?
I don't believe it - I still don't believe it.
Vin Diesel Talks About "A Man Apart"
In "A Man Apart," Vin Diesel stars as DEA Agent Sean Vetter, a man out for revenge after his wife is brutally murdered by drug dealers.
On casting Diesel as an officer forced to walk a fine line between good and evil, producer Joseph Nittolo says, "Sean Vetter is a man who's lost his wife as a result of a personal war against the drug cartels and is now not only seeking to enforce the law, but seek vengeance. And Vin brought the realism we were looking for and a whole lot of depth."
"A Man Apart's" director, F. Gary Gray, believes Diesel's special mix of blue-collar hero and movie star work to his benefit as Agent Sean Vetter. "He has the best of both worlds," says Gray, adding, "I knew I had a great opportunity to work with someone up-and-coming who is a great performer, with really gritty, raw subject matter."
Vin Diesel joined his "A Man Apart" co-stars for the World Premiere of the film at the historic Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Here's what the hunky actor had to say about Diesel-Mania, upcoming projects, and, of course, "A Man Apart:"
VIN DIESEL ('Sean Vetter')
You completed this film a while ago. Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
This film was supposed to be exactly what it is. It's a dark film, an emotional movie, and that's what it is. I wouldn't do anything different. Other than - as years go by - as an artist or as a filmmaker, you always want to add something. But I'm real happy with this film.
What drew you to "A Man Apart" in the first place?
It's bizarre. I think I was looking at "A Man Apart" as an opportunity to go to a very, very different place. Everything about the movie was different. That was the draw. To get to play a character who has the best relationship with his wife, and then through the story, has to deal with that loss.
Can you relate to your character?
That's a good question. I haven't had the perfect marriage that Sean Vetter has had. I also haven't lost the perfect wife that Sean has, but for some reason I can relate to him. There's a part of every character that I can relate to, or I have to find what part of that character I can relate to. It's about loss, it's about frustration, and it's about choosing anger before tears.
You always take upon yourself these intense characters. How do you leave your character behind at the end of the day?
This character was the hardest to leave behind. I found myself, for three months, kind of living in a somber place. I know that veteran actors that are 20 years older than I have managed to find a way to leave it on-set. I hope when I'm at that place, I can do the same.
How do you cope with this Vin Diesel-Mania?
I think I lose myself in the work. If I have a day off, I train riding elephants for "Hannibal." So far, that's years away. I love being artistic and I love creating. I love creating these worlds on film. That's kind of where I lose myself. It's always a shock to me when I see this… A reception like today can make anyone feel amazing forever.
Are you getting used to screaming fans? Have you figured out how you got to this point?
I don't know, I'm still trying to figure it out. I know that I've worked hard to make it, but I've been so lucky that I'm trying to make sense of it all.
I consider myself very lucky because I'm able to be artistic; I'm able to do what I want to do. I consider myself the luckiest kid in the whole world.
What did you do to prepare for this role?
I worked with DEA agents and I worked with an incredible technical advisor named Richard Valdemar who kind of brought us along and exposed the world to us. I was lucky that I got a lot of gun training and weapons training on "Saving Private Ryan" that I was able to carry over. But after getting all that practical stuff together, it was about finding the emotional heartbeat of the character. That just takes some time alone, working it out and finding that place.
This movie shows your softer side.
I went to an emotional place for this character that the film allowed me to, that the film called for, that a film like "XXX" may not call for. But films are about setting a target and hitting that mark. That's what this film delivers.
What's it take to be a good action star?
I think first and foremost it takes an appreciation for the big blockbuster action-type films. Then it takes almost a childlike commitment to play that role. It's different than doing a movie like "A Man Apart." You have to buy into it, you have to allow yourself to believe the one-liners before you say them. It's really about being committed to whatever you do. If you're doing an action piece, commit yourself to it. If you are doing a dramatic piece or a performance piece, commit yourself.
What's your dream project?
"Hannibal the Conqueror," Carthaginians, 3rd Century BC. I wouldn't mind doing "Guys and Dolls," but don't tell anybody. We're going to work on it.
How is your voice?
I'm working on it. I'm not ready to do a whole "I Got the Horse Right Here" beat, but I'm working on it. I guarantee you, we're going forward.
Are you taking voice lessons?
Any advice for struggling actors?
Find any way that one can to make a product. My philosophy is that product is the most important thing. I started acting when I was 7 years old and I didn't get famous from acting until "Saving Private Ryan," when I was 30. So there were many, many years of auditioning. What I learned later was that I had to have something; I had to have product regardless of how big or small it was.