From the September 23, 2002 New York Post column by Jared Paul Stern:
RHEA'S WORLD: Finding herself seated next to your intrepid columnist in the
front row at Lloyd Klein's brilliant Studio 54 show Friday afternoon, Revlon
cutie Rhea Durham decided it was her duty to proffer a morsel of gossip.
"It's totally over between me and Mark [Wahlberg], she announced." We
inquired who she was seeing now. "I can't tell you,'' she smiled. "But I'll
give you a hint: triple-X" - leading us to speculate she's hooking up with
Vin Diesel (star of "XXX"). "I'm not saying," she laughed. "Maybe it's just a
really naughty affair." Later on at the show, Rhea's pal Tara Reid nearly
derailed former supermodel Janice Dickinson's vampy return to the runway when
her Snapple bottle rolled across the catwalk. Tara dived to retrieve it just
in time - giving everyone an eyeful of rear end cleavage courtesy of her
super low-cut jeans.
Thanks to TopazSLC
Vin Diesel vehicle "XXX" notched the sixth-highest opening ever in increasingly lucrative Russia 9/29
Knockaround's in turnaround 9/29
INTERVIEW: THE KNOCKAROUND CREATORS 9/29
Transcendent action hero, Vin Diesel, spearheads The Next, Empire's hand-on-heart prediction of all those up-and-comers destined to rise to Hollywood's lofty thrones. The mag goes on sale from Friday 27 September in the UK.
A truant from New York has become post-9/11 America's new movie hero, playing a reluctant warrior in a thriller that eclipses the dated sang-froid of Schwarzenegger. We saw him in Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan - now get ready to be overwhelmed by his next film, XXX: Vin Diesel
Sunday September 29, 2002
Like most actors, Vin Diesel's first big break happened by chance. As a seven-year-old playing truant with his friends, he broke into an empty Manhattan theatre and started vandalising it until the artistic director, Crystal Field, returned. Instead of punishing them she persuaded them to try acting. 'I thought she was going to call the cops,' he recalls. 'She said: "If you guys want to play here, come every day at four o'clock and learn your lines."' When Field offered them $20 if they would play small parts in her next production, Diesel and his friends agreed. Today he earns $20 million a movie after emerging as Hollywood's biggest new star.
Diesel has made the transition from action hero to genuine superstar, and now commands fees to rival those of Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. Although he isn't a household name in Britain that is set to change with the release of XXX. The spy thriller broke box-office records in the United States during the competitive summer season, proving that Diesel's name above the title means great returns.
The film is unlikely to feature in any critics' top 10 at the end of the year but it is an effective, well-conceived movie for Diesel to show off his Popeye physique and raspy, sardonic delivery. It is aimed at the MTV generation, boasting a hard rock soundtrack and total disregard for authority figures: for anyone who thinks James Bond is too square, Diesel's character, Xander Cage, is the antidote.
After 40 years as the world's favourite secret agent, it seems that 007 has been superseded by a tattoo-sporting extreme sports addict from the wrong side of the law, who initially has no desire to serve his country. Cage is persuaded to join the National Security Agency by the threat of a long jail sentence when spy chiefs realise their suave, tuxedo-wearing operatives are no match for the new breed of international criminal.
Cage's street cunning allied to gravity-defying skateboarding, snowboarding and skydiving skills make him the perfect twenty-first-century spy. His character is a progression from the laconic types played by Schwarzenegger in the Eighties and early Nineties; post 9/11, the idea of a cool slacker turned reluctant patriot has struck a chord. As XXX director and friend Rob Cohen says, Vin Diesel is 'the right actor at the right time'.
Diesel, 35, has timed his rise to perfection. Hollywood leading men under the age of 40 are in short supply so he is a welcome addition to the A-list. Although he doesn't look like the conventional All-American hero, which is part of his allure.
The enigmatic actor has been careful to keep his precise ethnic background shrouded in mystery - he has already played an Italian-American, a Jew and a Hispanic on screen - to ensure his appeal cuts across racial lines. Diesel even called his production company One Race in case anyone missed the point.
Interviewers have found him frustratingly elusive as he dances around questions about his early life that might detract from his personal myth making. In Hollywood he has a reputation as shrewd operator, planning his career with meticulous detail.
When his Saving Private Ryan co-star Ed Burns went to see him in Los Angeles shortly after making the war film, Diesel was compiling a list of young actors enjoying more high-profile careers than him, and creating a plan to overtake them.
He recently refused to star in the sequel to The Fast and the Furious, the hi-octane car movie that was a hit last summer, because the studio wouldn't pay him $25m.
Vin Diesel was born Mark Vincent in 1967, although his age is another thing that he has been reluctant to confirm. He will say, however, that he changed his name while working as a New York bouncer because he wanted to sound more intimidating (he also developed his menacing stare).
He was brought up in a housing project in Greenwich Village by his astrologer mother, an Italian-American, and his stepfather, a drama teacher who is African-American. His biological father played little part in his upbringing and they are no longer in contact.
Diesel's adopted dad also helped develop his interest in performance and inspired him to go to New York University where he studied English and took acting classes. In fact, despite his current status as a cartoonish action hero, he began his theatre work 'off-off-off-Broadway' in small productions.
His career had stalled by 1994 when he decided, with typical ingenuity, to make a short film about his predicament. He wrote, directed and starred in Multi-Facial , a 20-minute piece about the experiences of an 'ethnic' actor having problems finding work. He ended the film with the line: 'My father was a black actor but he wants me to go one step further, and be an actor, just an actor.'
Multi-Facial became his Hollywood calling card. The award-winning short was selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 1995 and got enthusiastic reviews. Steven Spielberg was so impressed he created a new part in Saving Private Ryan for Diesel (he plays the ill-fated Private Adrian Ceparzo, who dies while saving a French girl) and allowed him to direct a couple of minor sequences.
Starring in a Spielberg film didn't whet Diesel's appetite for more prestige projects; instead he went back to the gym to work on his main asset. Again he made smart decisions, choosing to star as the villain or nihilistic anti-hero in a series of movies, bringing an edge to his screen persona.
In sci-fi flick Pitch Black he was a psychotic ex-con; for Boiler Room an avaricious Gordon Gekko-type trader; in The Fast and the Furious he played the charismatic mechanic who moonlights as the leader of a gang of illegal street-racers.
Although Diesel, not yet a star, rarely played the lead, he made his presence felt. Rumours circulated that he was 'difficult'. In 1999 director John Frankenheimer reportedly sacked him from Reindeer Games, the Ben Affleck vehicle in which Diesel had been hired to play the baddie, because he kept badgering him. According to Diesel, Frankenheimer said: 'Frankly, Vin, I'm too old, too busy and too fucking rich to worry about your character.'
Is this an example of Diesel's artistic integrity? Perhaps not. Judging by his CV and the fact that he has signed up to deliver lucrative sequels to Pitch Black and XXX, quality control is not his prime concern.
Rumours too abound about his sexuality - another closed subject with Diesel - but whatever the truth, it hasn't hurt his career, adding another layer of mystique. In fact, Diesel is one of the few stars who is as intriguing off screen as on.
His performances to date have been enjoyable, albeit two-dimensional, but it's clear that he provides something different to the leading man formula.
His next role will prove his most challenging yet. He plans to play Hannibal in a big-budget historical epic, which gives him the opportunity to flex his acting muscles alongside his pecs.
As the experiences and Schwarzenegger proved, the shelf life of a larger-than-life action hero is finite; his Generation X audience will grow up and grow out of him quickly if he doesn't change his routine.
Diesel says he was 'always certain that I was going to be a star. Even as a kid I knew it.' True, he has come a long way from the naughty child who didn't like going to school.
But how long can he stay at the top when his choice of roles is so limited? Despite his swagger and current success, will his fall from grace be as fast and furious as his ascent?
Born: 18 July 1967
Aka: Mark Vincent
Parents: His mother is an astrologer, his stepfather an actor and drama professor
Family: A twin brother, two sisters
Films: Multi-Facial, Saving Private Ryan, Pitch Black, The Fast and the Furious, XXX
Hobbies: Skydiving, Italian cooking
Heroes: Mel Gibson, Morgan Freeman
Victoria Gotti's article about Vin&KGuys premiere
NEVER would I have expected to be sharing a booth with an "XXX"-rated star. But it's not what you think.
Last week I attended the premiere party of the new movie "Knockaround Guys," starring John Malkovich, Dennis Hopper and rock-'em-sock-'em action hero Vin Diesel. As everyone clambered for a piece of Diesel, I was delighted when he invited me to join him at his table. I was even more surprised to discover that this hunky guy is very different from the roles he portrays on screen.
Diesel, a 35-year-old muscleman, told me he'll never succumb to the trappings of superstar status and won't forget his roots (he used to be a Manhattan nightclub doorman).
"Most actors get caught up in the whole 'hero worship' thing - they take for granted their humble beginnings and expect their fans to adjust to their newfound, spoiled personas. That will never happen to me," Diesel told me. And I believe him. He's a down-to-earth guy who calls it as he sees it.
But one subject that really makes Diesel bristle is when someone calls him an "overnight" success. Let me tell you, he's worked hard to get where he is today. He told me: "I have been acting since I was 8 years old. My persistence was unbelievable." And bankable.
Diesel is on his way to becoming today's version of Sylvester Stallone and "Rocky." But he insists it's not the attention or big bucks that keep him focused. I can reveal he's given up drinking and staying out late, but it's another ingredient of Diesel that keeps him firing on all cylinders.
"I bring spirit to the table - an exceptional means of looking at tomorrow," he said. "I represent the hardworking, sometimes rebellious working man. There are things in my life I never take for granted. My family is one, my career is the other." And you can't help but believe him as his sincerity and humility are omnipresent and omnipotent.
article taken from New York Post
xXx the 1st film in the new wave of Marketing. 9/24
Thought you might want the latest "Vin Sighting " in LA...He showed up at the opening of new club on Sunset...With an entourage of 50+
people...BUT...Did not use his star power to get them in...Instead he paid for all including himself at 30$per person cover and picked up the bar tab for his group and the rest of the patrons in the VIP room. And
unfortunately Nooo I was not in attendance as I was in Vegas, but my
girlfriend was and said all though you couldn't get with in 50 feet of him due to his 5 body guards...he was nice and personable with everyone she saw him with :) any who just thought you might want to know
"Sources say" chances are Vin is going to do Booster which will push Chronicles back to Spring. I am loving this info as I think it's a great move. Can't verify it though
The Vin Diesel vehicle "XXX" galvanized Russia 9/23
IRON GIANT: SE SOON? 9/20
'Details' Crowns Leo King of Hollywood and Vin's right up there with him! 9/18
Signs of BO Life. 9/17
By: Andre Herndon
WAVE Community Newspapers
Theres no doubt whether in his sudden role as Hollywoods new It Guy, or a few years back as a struggling actor-filmmaker working as a nightclub bouncer in his native New York that Vin Diesel cuts an imposing figure.
Thats no matter where he goes, including that Hollywood version of a firing squad (if they picked up the condemned in a luxury car, shot at him with softballs and sent in a blonde to sweep him away before one actually made contact) called a press junket.
Not that anyone should fear Diesel, who comes off as a thoughtful, serious young actor.
Hes startlingly soft-spoken, despite the bulging biceps, and a well-crafted tough-guy image that has much of Hollywood crowning him the next Arnold Schwarzenegger a distinction to which his latest role as daredevil secret agent Xander Cage in the anticipated summer blockbuster XXX poses no threat.
But cynical being too gentle a word to describe them, women entertainment journalists, some who less than a hour before mocked an awkward XXX love scene between Diesel and Italian actress Asia Argento, look at him, when he arrives in the yes-I-work-out-obsessively uniform that is a plain white T-shirt tucked into jeans, as if they want to take her place.
The men, at first decrying the late start to an interview and the indignity of being forced to cover four films in a mega-junket weekend, behave similarly. Some shamelessly ask for his autograph on script notes, while others ask thinly-disguised variants of the question exactly how cool are you, anyway?
So how did Diesel become this sex object/coolest-guy-in-class figure, able to transform a few self-directed and -starring short films, and bit part in Saving Private Ryan into a career that now sees him commanding eight-figure salaries, and exercising more control of his onscreen image by adding the title executive producer to his resume?
Its news to me, he says, acknowledging that his status as a hottie wont kill me. Ive survived worse. Its crazy because I wasnt the pretty boy in school. I dont know how it happened.
Actually, he does know how it happened, because it doesnt take an advanced degree in psychology to figure out that stardom, and the inflated bank account and adoration that comes with it does wonders for anyones perceived sexiness. In a town where ex- Politically Incorrect host Bill Maher can earn a reputation as a womanizer, its no wonder Diesel elicits screams from movie-going womenfolk, by merely appearing on screen. God forbid he take off his shirt.
Vin went from being the cool guy in one year, to being the hot guy, says director Rob Cohen, a Hollywood veteran who directed Diesel in both XXX and the Fast & The Furious. Hes not Brad Pitt, or Paul Walker. Hes not that Anglo, handsome guy. But now, black glamour is glamour. That transition is part of the evolution weve seen over the past year. As the audience gets more comfortable with him, youll get more women saying he is good looking. I wish my man looked like that.
His status as a sex symbol, however, raises a lot of other questions many, such as the question of his ethnic background, that Diesel is uncomfortable answering.
By identifying him as a symbol of black glamour, Cohen betrays that particular mystery about his star, whose real name is Mark Vincent, the product of a black father and Irish mother.
He has named his production company One Race, further hoping to throw fans, the media and other race sleuths off the trail of his background.
Im a combination of many things, Im multicultural he says cryptically when questioned about his racial identity.
Adds Cohen, of Diesels racial ambiguity: Its been a long time for America and Hollywood to get to a point where your racial identity is not your calling card. When they see Vin onscreen, Hispanics can see themselves, African Americans see themselves. If youre a Sephardic Jew, you could see yourself in Vin. He is in many ways a Rorscharch test on race. A lot of races look at Vin and say theres a part of him in me, and part of me in him. His multi-ethnicity works to his advantage.
However, being that action hero with whom everyone can identify hasnt blunted all of the harshest critiques of his work, and potential as an actor.
Sure, he made splashes at Sundance in 1995 and 1997 with his self-directed shorts Multi-Facial and Strays, earning him the attention of Steven Spielberg, who cast him in his breakout role as young Pvt. Caparzo in Saving Private Ryan.
But hes heard the criticisms: For all his protestations that he wants to be considered a serious, versatile actor (telling a recent interviewer that hed like to do a romantic comedy), Diesel continues taking roles that are less Jean De Florette than they are Jean-Claude Van Damme. He seems abundantly comfortable in roles where the dialogue is of the one-liner variety, the ab shots plentiful and the action non-stop.
His movies may take in $100 million, but theyre about as far from a Laemmles marquee as Like Mike. When his career is said and done, hes likely to have taken home far more MTV Movie Awards for Best Action Sequence than Cannes Palme dOrs and that appears to be fine with him.
With his paydays creeping into the $20 million range, its hard to picture him throwing that all away so he can stare all googly-eyed at Meg Ryan, as they huddle under an awning to avoid a cloudburst. Dont hand him a powdered wig, and a coach in the Queens English, just yet.
You want to make movies for the people, first and foremost, he says. I think MTV (Movie Awards) are representative of making movies for the people. I approach each role with the same conviction. I tend not to . . . worry about being an action hero. You know, action film is a new term. Rebel Without a Cause, and movies like that werent considered action films. They were actors doing high-intensity work.
Now that hes got those pesky questions of artistic credibility out of the way, Diesel seems to have settled nicely into his latest incarnation, that of the elder Hollywood statesman on the set.
One wouldnt think Argento the daughter of legendary filmmaker Dario Argento, who published books as a child and has already directed several films in her native Italy would need anyones movie making help.
But she says Diesels input, advice, and experience making big-budget Hollywood popcorn flicks proved invaluable on the set of XXX.
He always helped a lot. Once, there was a big door explosion, and I hid behind his big shoulders, she jokes. He helped not only as an actor . . . hes a very deep person. He doesnt just focus on one scene, he looks at the whole picture. Maybe its because of his experience as a director.
Diesel sees it as performing a service that other actors performed for him, as he first began taking on some of his more challenging roles.
Id like to think that when I do a picture that its a collaborative effort, he says. I want to make myself available the way Tom Hanks made himself available to all of us on Saving Private Ryan.
And although deciding between a sequel to XXX which one critic has already deemed James Bond on steroids and The Fast &the Furious 2 isnt exactly a dilemma worthy of Hamlet, Diesel did make that choice, with he and Cohen leaving the drag-racing sequel to pop-star-turned actor Tyrese and director John Singleton.
Other than extending the XXX franchise, that leaves him free to work on his next project. Slated to begin filming in Spring 2003, Diesel is producing and starring in a biopic on Hannibal, the legendary Carthaginian general who took on the Roman Empire in part by riding his army across the Alps on elephants.
Having his own production company, says Diesel, allows him to better control the types of roles hell play.
I hope Im ready, he says of his role as an industry player. Hannibal is a character that Ive always wanted to play. He was the first guy who thought of attacking Rome, and he did it in a unique way. He redefined war strategy. Classic underdog.
Gladiator on steroids, anyone?
Move over 007 and Batman, XXX is now the man
2002 Sept 20
TOKYO Vin Diesel is fond of saying "I'm just a boy from New York" with a shrug, as if that explains his phenomenal rise from bouncer to action film star currently taking the world by storm in "XXX."
Standing 180 cm tall, the 35-year-old Diesel, with his shaven head, huge biceps and black tanktop, cuts an imposing figure. Flashing a hearty smile, he calls himself a rebel and says he's a lot different from any action star of the past. For one thing, in his short career, he has been a director, producer and writer as well as actor.
"I'm definitely a new breed, no pretty boy," he said in his baritone voice. "It's my individuality that has let me come this far. I'm a lot like the character Xander Cage in 'XXX' nihilistic, with a disregard for authority."
Not that he's a rebel without a cause. Far from it. The events of Sept 11, 2001, shook him up like everyone else. "I grew up less than a mile from the World Trade Center. I was in LA at the time but my father and mother saw the second plane go into the tower from their living room window. I felt like I had to put on a uniform and do something," he said. But his mother, who is a professional astrologer, told him he could do more as an actor.
Diesel, whose real name is Mark Vincent, had just made his mark as a bankable action star in last year's "The Fast and the Furious." The director of that film, Rob Cohen, suggested the idea of "XXX" to Diesel who was reluctant in the wake of the terror attacks. "We had a talk about the concept and realized that it was time for a new movie hero. It had to be someone who would appeal to youth culture, a working class, proletarian hero."
And so was born Xander Cage, an extreme athlete-turned-reluctant secret agent who doesn't smoke, take drugs or drink (he prefers cranberry and club soda as does Diesel who has been on the wagon for the past three years). Pressured into service for his country, agent Triple X, as he is called by his boss (Samuel L Jackson), is given the task of infiltrating a gang of terrorists called Anarchy 99 in Prague.
Triple X's skills come in handy as he drives cars off bridges, does jumps with motorcross bikes and snowboards in front of avalanches.
It was a grueling 5-month shoot with some stunt scenes taking two weeks to film. Diesel insisted on doing most of the stunts himself, against the studio's wishes. He thinks his youthful audience would expect no less.
'XXX' hits Oz, snaring $1.7 million on 300 screens, 13% bigger than the recent debut of "Minority Report." 9/16
xXx comes in 8th with $135.4 million 9/16
Setting the Pace 9/14
DIESEL GIVES A TRIPLE X
Following his acclaimed role in the Sci-Fi actioner Pitch Black and the stunt-tastic The Fast and the Furious, Vin Diesel takes on the spy genre and wont rest until hes the most famous spy in movies!
Vin Diesels career is firing on all cylinders. XXX is an action-thriller tailor-made to transform Diesel, who earned a $10,000,000 paycheque for his efforts, into a combination of Sean Connery, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. Directed by Rob Cohen, who put Diesel through his paces in The Fast and the Furious, XXX casts Diesel as Xander Cage, an extreme sports enthusiast with an equally extreme attitude, who likes to pull off his stunts in the very face of the authorities. When a bunch of villainous Eastern Europeans threatens to destroy the world, NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) turns to Cage, the idea being that conventional spies simply cant get the job done in this day and age. And so Cage blows things up, outraces avalanches, romances the sultry Yelena (Asia Argento), and so on. Film Review caught up with Diesel at a hotel in Los Angeles, where he shed some light on XXX, fame and his future.
You started off your career with much more serious roles and then took the bad guy/hero route in Pitch Black and then went with something far more commercial and testosterone-driven like XXX. Is that a product of what youre being offered or a product of what youre going after? And is all of that building to you creating more of your own projects?
Everything has been a product of what Ive been offered. Every film Ive done is what Ive been offered. I have directed films and created things. Have you seen any of that? Its completely different work. But its always been about taking whatever Ive been offered and making it as good as possible.
What made you interested in the role of Xander Cage?
The idea of giving birth to a new breed of secret agent was interesting and challenging. What attracts me to projects first is the content, and with XXX I was attracted to the concept of a guy who is solely concerned with his own thrill-seeking endeavours. He couldnt care less about political affairs outside of the ones that directly affect him. I liked the idea that someone like Xander could be called upon to step into the shoes of a secret agent. Taking a guy whos the least likely to want to save the world, and having him do just that, fascinated me.
How did you prepare for the physicality of XXX?
I went into training three months prior to shooting. I did motocross training, snowboard training, ski climbing. Initially, the character was going to have a father who was in the Navy SEALS, so I did some Navy SEAL training in San Diego, which ended up being valuable for Xander Cages third act. I basically did the extreme sports version of weightlifting for three months. You have to learn how to use rigs, even every apparatus that will help you with each stunt. Its such a complicated process.
Beware: Diesel slick
15 September 2002
XXX-rated action star Vin Diesel tries to convince Jo McCarroll he's the hottest thing in his hotel room.
As the blonde entered the hotel room, Hollywood action star Vin Diesel put down his mineral water and uncoiled himself from his low chair.
"Hel-lo," he purred, with a voice like gravel and a butt like granite. Sliding his hand down the small of her back, he drew her towards him to brush her cheek with his lips. "What a (suggestive pause) pleasure to meet you."
Now, the blonde was me. And that really did happen. It's not actually the imaginary fulfilment of my dearest wish although Diesel obviously thought it was going to be.
Because Diesel is a star. The star of The Fast and the Furious, Pitch Black, Boiler Room and now XXX. Even in life he's bigger than life, six-foot something and built. If one of his film characters ever spawn an action figure they wouldn't even have to recalibrate the GI Joe machine. And all women fantasise about being kissed by buff film stars. Or at least ... Diesel fantasises that all women fantasise about film stars. Maybe that's why he so wanted to become one?
Diesel doesn't want to talk too much about "reality". It's true, he agrees, that he really, really wanted to be famous. Not for fame's sake, of course. But simply "to create", he says, "to take fantasies, ideas and dreams and make them into films". And so he worked very hard for a long time to make it into films himself.
He broke into theatre, aged seven, by breaking into a theatre and vandalising props with a group of hooligan mates (at which point they met a woman who gave them $5 and a script each and told them to come back every day at 4pm). As an adult he spent years working as a bouncer in New York to keep his days free for auditions.
He wrote, directed, starred in and self-funded a short film Multi-Facial about an actor struggling with a mixed racial identity. He raised the money for his first feature Strays (again written by, directed and starring Diesel) through 15-hour days telephone marketing, giving a friend free rent and board if he'd walk the dog and answer the phone, telling anyone in the industry that Diesel was "in a meeting".
"I didn't want anyone to know I was at the level where I had to do telemarketing," Diesel says. "I didn't even tell my agent."
But he doesn't want to talk about things like his real name (he won't say but numerous websites list it as Mark Vincent), his real background (again, according to the internet, he and his twin brother were raised by his astrologist mother and his drama teacher stepfather in an artists' housing project in Greenwich Village) or his real race (the internet claims he had an African American biological father and a white mother but he's played black, white, Cuban and race unspecified roles). Right now he is simply Vin Diesel: movie star. Sure he wants to make my dreams come true, he just doesn't necessarily want to answer my questions.
"I believe," he says, gazing into my eyes, "that you will better enjoy the movie you are about to see if you know less about me. I want you to walk into the theatre and discover the character, not feel as if you already know the actor too well who is playing the character."
Is that because, I suggest, the reality might somewhat disappoint people?
"No," he says consideringly. "No," he says again. "No, no," he adds in case I have misunderstood. "I don't think they would be disappointed. At all. But what I want to share is just the positive message, the positive idea that anyone can make their dreams a reality."
Because Diesel's dreams came true, eventually. Steven Spielberg saw Multi-Facial at a festival screening and was so impressed he created the role of Private Adrian Carparzo, the first soldier killed in Saving Private Ryan, especially for Diesel. From SPR, Diesel provided the voice for the main character in animated feature The Iron Giant. Then he got a lead role in Boiler Room, then Pitch Black. And then of course he starred in the unexpected summer hit The Fast and the Furious. And that catapulted him to a (reportedly) $20 million salary for XXX in which he plays extreme sports champion and anti-authority Alexander "Xander" Cage, another hero role.
Or rather not just "another hero".
"A nihilist hero," Diesel says. "A hero who has a disregard for authority. A rebel who is forcibly recruited by the NSA (National Security Agency) to save the world. I'm always fascinated by any kind of spin on the hero. Xander is a reluctant hero. He's not necessarily an anti-hero like Dominic (his character in Fast). Or like Ruddick (Pitch Black). This character is not even aware, not even cognisant of the fact that he could be a hero."
Diesel uses words like cognisant a lot. He reads Camus, he says with confidence, perhaps confidence that almost no one else does. He's not just a body for the poster. His first films were critically acclaimed for both his writing and his performance. Diesel wants to be the thinking man's brain dead action hero.
"I don't have to worry about being typecast. In the States I have been acting since I was seven. That's 20 years of experience right there," says the 35-year-old.
"And on top of that my interests are so diverse by the time they start officialising the label of action hero I'll already have done something completely different like starred in a romantic comedy with Nicole Kidman."
Alas, my 15 minutes with the big star is up. The romantic comedy that has been this interview is over. Roll the credits. But Diesel, ever the professional, doesn't slip out of character for a moment.
"Goodbye," he husks, drawing me towards him again and giving me a kiss on the cheek that strongly suggests it's all he can do to stop himself from settling down with me to raise our children. "You be good." It's a beautiful moment. There's so much love in this room. But I tiptoe away, leaving Diesel alone. I hate playing gooseberry.
Hollywood's man of the moment talks to MARIANNE GRAY about the new antihero and his role in the testosterone-soaked xXx
Vin Diesel resembles some kind of high-octane club bouncer with his shaven head, solid body and smarting muscles, but when he talks in his low, slow gravel-and-grit voice, it somehow comes out as sense and sensibility.
Imposing but genial and intelligent, Diesel did indeed toil for many years as a bouncer, but he plotted his course so deftly that the sequel being made from his biggest hit, The Fast and the Furious 2, can now not afford him. He went from earning $2-million as a street-racing legend in last year's original The Fast and the Furious to a price tag befitting the size of his meaty biceps, which have been compared to a testosterone version of a cleavage - $20-million (about R210-million) for the sequel of his latest film, xXx.
Now comfortable in the niche left vacant by the greying action heroes of yesterday, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood, Diesel seems to be here for a while.
Once described as the "sexiest ugly man in movies since Anthony Quinn", he looks a lot better than his name would indicate.
In xXx, the noisy, save-the-world, stunt-filled spy thriller, he plays the lawless Xander Cage, a character nicknamed Triple X for the tattoo across the back of his neck. His job has something to do with ferreting out mad European-trash anarchists with access to weapons of bio-terrorism and stopping them from world domination and destruction.
Samuel L Jackson, Asia Argento and The Lord of the Rings's Marton Csokas co-star, and Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) directs.
"What Xander doesn't know is that he's been 'scouted' by Agent Augustus Gibbons (Jackson), a veteran agent with the National Security Agency," says Diesel. "Gibbons and the NSA are facing a desperate situation in Prague, where their undercover operative has been killed by a gang of thugs calling themselves Anarchy 99, headed by an ex-Russian Army commander, Yorgi (Csokas), and his beautiful but tough girlfriend, Yelena (Argento). Enter Xander!"
Hmmm. Although this is not much of a girls' movie, it has done brilliantly with American teens, and there are plans to launch Xander Cage as an alternative James Bond. Diesel believes the timing of this new kind of action star couldn't be better.
"In the '80s, we had heroes that were whitewashed, who were morally perfect," he points out. "I think now the public doesn't really gravitate toward those heroes. We need more flawed heroes and antiheroes for us to invest in.
"I think Xander speaks to our generation. I was attracted to the concept of a guy who is solely concerned with his own thrill-seeking endeavours. He couldn't care less about political affairs outside of the ones that directly affect him. I liked the idea that someone like Xander could be called on to step into the shoes of a secret agent. Taking a guy who's the least likely to want to save the world, and having him do just that, fascinated me."
The role has made him the next big thing. A year ago, Diesel - his real name is believed to be Mark Vincent - was almost unknown. Now the actor is unavoidable after more than a decade of trying to get noticed in Hollywood. He will shoot the xXx sequel after he has played Hannibal in an epic about the Carthaginian general who famously led his elephant army across the Alps. He will also shoot the sequel to the sci-fi thriller Pitch Black. In addition, Knockaround Guys, a crime comedy co-starring John Malkovich and Dennis Hopper, will be released soon. He's also planning a feature-length version of the 20-minute film he made about a multi-ethnic actor (himself) who can't get a part no matter what racial background he assumes, and developing a script based on his days as a bouncer.
We first noticed Diesel in 1998 in Saving Private Ryan, in which he played an Italian-American GI, followed by his role as a zealous stockbroker in the well-received Boiler Room. He was also the voice of the title character in the animated fantasy The Iron Giant.
"I've been working my ass off all my life. Before I got paid to make movies, I was paying to make movies. I'd work and save and make a movie with my earnings - not buy a new car or get a fancy apartment. But whether paying or getting paid, the happiness is from the same thing: making movies. Making movies and doing the stunts."
If you thought The Fast and the Furious was great stunting, slip into a cinema and at least see the first stunt in xXx.
The film opens with Diesel's character stealing a Corvette, leading the cops on a chase, turbo-gliding the car over the rail of a high bridge, riding the vehicle down like a surfboard and landing where his pals await. It's just one of many great stunts in xXx. It's also a showcase for Diesel, a classically trained actor with the added mystique that he does more of his stunt work than most other stars.
"For xXx I had to go into training, even though I reckoned riding my motorcycle in Manhattan as a teen was probably crazier than any stunt I've ever done. At times I have been known to be a bit of a daredevil, although I'm less of one now.
"For the film I trained with Navy Seals, and in speed-climbing, snowboarding and motocross. I wanted to push the envelope, but I could not have done it without my stunt team. The amazing things were done by professionals. We shot at the Barrandov Studios outside Prague, in the Czech Republic, where they have some of the best stuntmen in the world."
Diesel may do screen stunts, but he doesn't mess around much in interviews. With his exotic looks - olive skin and full lips - he's widely assumed to be of Italian and African heritage, but he resolu-tely refrains from identifying his ethnicity. One Race is the name of his production company, and he refers to himself simply as "multicultural".
"I support the idea of being multi-cultural primarily for all the invisible kids, the ones who don't fit into one ethnic category and find themselves lost in some limbo," he says.
Diesel is fairly invisible himself when it comes to personal details. He grew up in a multicultural, intellectual household. He was one of four (his twin brother, Paul Vincent, a film editor, has blond hair and blue eyes), and his stepfather, whom he still idolises, was a theatre manager/drama teacher, while his mother combined astrology and psychology. He never knew his biological father.
From the age of five, he felt most at home on stage. "There was some-thing refreshing about having my identity become crystal-clear (playing) a role," he says. "Then the name Vin Diesel came out of the bouncing thing.
"We all had nicknames. It was a wonderful thing to detach a little bit, both by name and by acting. Nowadays I detach every year when I go on a little trip with a buddy. I call it a month of anonymity. I'll go to Europe; I'll go to some happening city. After the city is onto the fact that I'm there, I'll leave and go to some obscure place and just walk the streets and not worry about anything.
"I was unemployed for a while - 20 years, actually, sleeping on couches and scrabbling cash to eat. I've learnt to be proactive and become an independent filmmaker and survive and keep my head on.
"When you stumble across a great actor-director relationship like the one I found with Rob Cohen on The Fast and the Furious, you are quick to get back into that environment again. A big part of my attraction to Triple-X was to work with Rob again. And we're planning more - watch this space!"
Diesel, Kidman in Guys and Dolls? 9/12
Vin Diesel on xXx2, Hannibal & a Musical 9/13
HOW TO SELL CANDY, BY VIN DIESEL
"XXX" toughie Vin Diesel roared up on his motorcycle to an LA Coffee Bean, swaggered in with buddies for a caffeine fix and some 8-year-old kid everybody was ignoring asked the star if he'd buy candy for "our after-school sports program." Grunted Vin, "I'm not buyin'!" As the kid turned away, Vin told him: "You'd better learn how to sell stuff, pal!" He spoke quietly to the youngster, giving him tips like: "When you're selling to a lady, look her right in the eye and hold out your hand," and "Don't call a man 'sir' . . . keep the playing field level." Then Coach Vin unleashed his protégé on the coffee-shop crowd who suddenly unlimbered their wallets! The kid sold nearly all his candy and as he started to leave, Mr. Tough Guy sprang for the rest!
Published on: October 2, 2002
Look Out Vin Diesel 9/12
This Man's Dominion (aka Diablo, El Diablo): 9/12
The Chronicles of Riddick (Pitch Black 2) ETA: Summer 2003 9/12
Ja Rule Talks 'Pitch Black' Sequels, Nas Collaborations 9/10
Vin Diesel At The XXX Premiere In Sydney 9/10
Overseas audiences reach for "Road," "XXX," "Stitch" 9/10
MEETING MR X 9/9
Triple the action
The Curier Mail
OTHERS may be surprised that Vin Diesel, all-action leading man of XXX, has emerged as Hollywood's latest sensation.
Others perhaps, but not Diesel (real name Malcolm Vincent). (K's note: Mark!!)
The bald, teetotal actor's show business ambitions were clear 32 years ago, when, as a three-year-old, he was taken by his mother to see Ringling Bros/Barnum and Bailey's circus at Madison Square Garden in his home-town of New York.
"Mum tells the story of how, when the lions had finished their act at the start of the show, she looked at where I should have been sitting in the bleachers, and saw I wasn't there," Diesel says.
"I'd gone down to the stage area and was trying to open a locked gate to get on stage. Mum says she asked me what I was doing, and I said, 'I'm waiting to do my show now'. "
Diesel a slimmer, more youthful looking version of Telly Savalas is on a 48-hour stop in Sydney to promote XXX, the nickname of the new film's tattooed, head-shaven character of Xander Cage who is "a walking advertisement for anti-authoritarianism".
The grungy extreme sports professional Cage becomes a new-age sort of James Bond when he's recruited by a National Security Agency veteran (Samuel L. Jackson) to infiltrate a gang of cutting-edge thugs calling themselves Anarchy 99.
The group is headed by a brutal ex-Russian Army commander named Yorgi (played by Australian-resident New Zealand actor Marton Csokas), and his beautiful girlfriend, Yelena (Italian actress Asia Argento).
XXX, which requires Diesel to perform some heart-stopping action sequences, including ski-ing in front of an avalanche, hasn't been out of a top-3 spot in America's highest grossing movies since it opened last month, and already there's talk of a sequel that will double the actor's pay cheque to $US20 million ($3.7m).
Yet, in the harbourside hotel where he's affably doing non-stop interviews for Australian and New Zealand press, Diesel confesses he's not all-action off screen.
"I'm interested in my work, and I love talking about my work to those I'm going to be working with, the directors and the other actors and the directors of photography," says the actor with biceps like car tyres and a voice deep enough to register on the Richter scale and made even smokier by his tobacco habit.
"I'm interested in the creative side of the business, so if I'm not working, I'm really still working talking about it wherever I can."
A-level success (and a fee reputed to be $US10 million a movie) has come to Diesel after nine features, including two which have not yet been sold for distribution.
He's made international magazine covers this year as "the next action hero", but he's been building a following over the past four years with roles in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, The Iron Giant (as the voice of the giant), Boiler Room, Pitch Black (filmed on the Gold Coast and at Coober Pedy), and The Fast and the Furious.
But it was a short film he made himself, Multi-Facial, as writer, director and star, unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995, that he believes started his climb towards stardom after years working "off-off-off-off-off Broadway" in New York theatres.
He'd spent nine years earning a living as a nightclub bouncer in New York, and made Multi-Facial in his off-duty hours.
Influential filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg (who wrote a role for him in Saving Private Ryan) and director Brad Bird (who hired him for The Iron Giant) saw the short film and wanted to work with the actor.
He says his role in XXX came about because of another relationship he'd made with a film executive, Ted Field, whom he'd met when he took his self-funded feature film Strays (still to be released) to the Sundance Film Festival.
Strays was funded with $47,000 Diesel and a friend had saved from their jobs as tele-marketers in Los Angeles.
Rob Cohen, who directed The Fast and the Furious, a summer hit in 2001, was again his director on XXX, and Diesel says the director knows how to draw the best out of him.
"Rob understands how to get me involved conceptually," Diesel says.
"I think movie scripts are an imperfect medium, and the whole concept behind a film script is to remain unrelenting in your attempt to attain perfection.
"The script does not make allowances for your own personality, or the things you bring to a performance.
"Rob will discuss that with me. We can rap about films conceptually."
Diesel spent almost three months working on the $US90 million XXX, mostly around Prague in the Czech Republic.
Cohen has described the film and Diesel's character as a "total reinvention of the spy film for a new generation". Diesel declares: "I'm not trying to be James Bond".
When he's finished travelling the world (Japan is next, then Mexico) promoting XXX, the actor will slip back into the role of Riddick he created in Pitch Black for a sequel to be called The Chronicles of Riddick.
"We're creating a mythology about Riddick. David Twohy (who wrote the original) has written an amazing script," Diesel says.
"I'm just disappointed that we can't bring the $US150 million movie back to Australia."
Diesel says he loved every moment of the three months he spent living in a 22nd-floor apartment at Surfers Paradise while he was working on Pitch Black three years ago.
"I love Australia, and working with the people here like David Eggby (director of photography on Pitch Black) and Dean Semler (director of photography on XXX),
"But it's become so popular we can't get studio space back here to do the next Riddick movie."
Diesel is busy, with Hannibal the Conqueror, (being written by Gladiator author David Franzoni) also slated for filming in the northern spring.
Diesel loves working away from his home in central Los Angeles.
"It's much easier to act when you're not thinking about your daily routine," he says. "It's easier to become someone else if you don't have to go home after work. I'll work anywhere."
XXX's success seems guaranteed to keep things that way for the actor who has seen a childhood dream come true.
He's been given the key to the gate and he's found it fits.
New James Bond is Diesel driven
Former bouncer Vin Diesel has gone to extra lengths to become Hollywood's new action man, says MICHAEL BODEY
Apparently Vin Diesel recently told his pal, fellow actor Adrien Brody: "I'm trying to make the most with what little I have."
If true, it is an off-the-cuff admission that cuts to the reality behind the inexplicable career of the former New York bouncer born Mark Vincent.
"Diesel" is the action star of the day, behind Tom Cruise.
He led the street car gang piffle The Fast and the Furious to huge success last year but baulked at a lucrative sequel due to "creative differences".
Now he stars as extreme sports bad boy Xander Cage in the explosive action film, xXx, already one of the US summer's box office winners.
In the process, Diesel's elevated himself from the muscly lead of B-grade sci-fi pic Pitch Black to leading man playing "the new James Bond".
Diesel admits xXx is "definitely a franchise film but not as the new James Bond".
"I see James Bond as James Bond and that's what he is, the father of secret agents," he adds.
Xander Cage, on the other hand, is a reluctant secret agent, an anti-authoritarian thrill seeker who becomes an agent through necessity.
Diesel has become a star through persistence. His first, self-funded, short film, Multi-Facial attracted Steven Spielberg's attention. After being cast in Saving Private Ryan, Diesel slowly moved forward in Pitch Black, Boiler Room, and Iron Giant before launching with The Fast and the Furious.
Hollywood needed a new action star and Diesel says people are attracted to his character's "Xanderism philosophy".
"They were getting into the idea this guy was a rebel," he says. "Here's a guy who's not supposed to be a hero, who is a reluctant hero and has contempt for government and establishment and institutions yet becomes the saving grace."
Diesel has used a similar anti-establishment guise to establish his now-lucrative career.
His private life remains very private and his background vague. He won't discuss his lineage. Hence, he's been dubbed the first "multi-ethnic action star" even if he hasn't hit with Asian markets that want more beauty and charm from their male leads.
"There are so many tags I can't even think about them all."
Chief among them was the "difficult" tag. "Do I have that still? I thought we lost that," he laughs. "I don't think I'll ever lose the difficult tag; it would be foolish for me to even try.
"People know that I care only about the picture and only about how great that picture will be and I won't settle and I'll always look for ways to improve," says Diesel. "I expect a lot from people and if that is difficult, that's fine. I don't want to be too easy."
He has learnt. While in Sydneythere was a sparkling enthusiasm from him that suggested he's enjoying making the most of what he's got.
Ten weeks' training on snowmobiles, motocross bikes and fighting skills before the xXx shoot was inspiring rather than enervating, he admits.
"They started nicknaming me Air Diesel on the set because anything I got a hold of I was jumping and if they weren't shooting I was practising jumping," he recalls with a grin. "I was like such a rebel on set but it was part of the character."
The characters ahead will consolidate or break Diesel. He begins filming the Pitch Black sequel, Chronicles of Riddick, in November before the xXx sequel and Hannibal, based on the marauding Asian conqueror.
"It's in a nice place, brewing and being created right now by David Franzoni who wrote Amistad and Gladiator."
Diesel says of the potential blockbuster, Hannibal. "I'm so excited about it ... Oh my God, when I think about how much work it's going to be and how big, it blows my mind."
US ACTION HEROES STAR AT FILM FEST IN FRANCE 9/9
Vin Considering Remaking Guys and Dolls with Nicole Kidman 9/9
Episode III & Riddick Principal Photography Details 9/9
Being broad-minded 9/8
Heroic Vin in Fire Thriller 9/8
-- BOOST UP 9/8
SPOILED STAR ( I hope this one is untrue and completely false) 9/8
Happened to get a hold of a script that VIN is rumored to be interested in called SWEET EMOTION. It's a buddy comedy about a tough undercover cop(VIN of course) who gets a whammy put on him that makes him overly emotional at the wrong moments. Like crying uncontrollably at a wedding when he's supposed to be cool and fit in with the other tough guys. Also, he has a very funny sidekick. THIS MOVIE IS HILARIOUS AND PERFECT FOR VIN!!! I hope that he actually does this comedy and shows everyone what he's made of. Oh, yeah, it was written by the writer of XXX, so I guess that's how VIN got involved.
Vin's part is Jackson DeMartino, or as he's known as "Jack Frost". Jack is a tough undercover cop in Miami who has a wife and twin little girls. His wife is bummed that he is so cold that he is losing touch with her and the kids.
When the movies starts out, he busts some drug dealers who he has befriended and is sporting long hair and a beard! The pregnant sister of the guy he busted puts a spell on him(she's some kind of voodoo witch or something), which causes him to experience out-of-balance emotions(much like a pregnant woman). He gets the one job he's always wanted and is forced to work with a loser to infiltrate the drug kingpin's lair. This loser is the nephew of the kingpin, but is forced to work with Jack or go to prison. Naturally, these guys hate each other.
So, basically, the rest of the movie revolves around Jack trying to keep his emotions under control long enough to bring down the kingpin. Of course, the "new Jack" is a hit with the wife and kids, but the mobsters think he's nuts. The funniest scene is when he is at a wedding rehearsal for the kingpin's daughter and is crying like a little girl when he hears a horrible love poem being read.
This script is very funny and I can picture Jack Black as the loser/partner of Vin's. As I said, it's written by Rich Wilkes, the writer/creator of XXX.
A friend of mine got a hold of the script and the word is that Vin's producer and manager like it, but Vin is concerned that people might not accept him in a comedy. HE IS SO WRONG!!! When you read this and picture Vin as Jack, it is twice as funny as it would be with anyone else. Imagine Vin crying at bad poetry, singing a Celine Dion song, or asking "Do these clothes make my ass look big?"
Posted by Zappaman on the message board of VinXperience.
Vin Diesel Refuses To Give Himself A Race Label
World Entertainment News Network
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS hunk VIN DIESEL is deeply annoyed with people who question his race, because it's an issue nobody should care about.
The New York native, who hails from a mixed background, refuses to define himself as black, white or otherwise because it only gives others premise to categorize and stereotype.
He says, "I can't buy into labels because they diminish was multiculturalism is and the courage of those parents who created all of us 'harmony babies'.
"People like to put each other in boxes because it allows them to categorize, create labels and stereotype. "In the neighborhood where I grew up, most of the kids I knew were multi-racial. I had to deal with a lot of s*** because I'm multi-cultural, and there was no multi-cultural icons or role models.
"It was a struggle to define myself as a person up against other people's expectations."
xXx in 5th for the weekend 9/8
Vin Diesel's Surprise Plane Movie 9/6
Oh XXX! Vin's about to shoot off 9/6
xXx marks the spot where Vin gets extreme 9/6
Swiss Army Brands Goes 'XXX' With Vin Diesel 9/6
Vin at Lil' Kim's Party? 9/5
Vin Diesel XXX: Profile 9/4
Vin Diesel sells XXX 9/4
xXx Sydney Premiere 9/4
XXX reviewed by The Self-Made Critic 9/3
Candidate using Vin's picture in ad campaign. 9/3
Top 12 for Weekend of August 30 - September 2
Number of Sites
Change in Sites from Last
Estimated Gross ($)
Cumulative Gross ($)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
xXx in 3rd yet again. :( 9/3
xXx to be released on DVD November 26th.
H'w'd's new toga party 9/2
World Finally Diesel-Fueled? 9/2