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INT: Vin Diesel

The Arrow interviews Vin Diesel

I've been a big Vin Diesel fan since" Pitch Black. Although I haven't loved all of Diesel's following movies; one thing was constant throughout: "HE ROCKED IN ALL OF THEM!" When the opportunity to meet the man at a journalist filled junket (yup the questions below belong to a bunch of us) in New York arose, you bet I made sure to be there! Now, I'll be honest; being that I've been in this "Net business" for 4 years, I've stopped being "star struck". But that' streak ended when I came face to face with Mr. Diesel. Upon meeting him, I became a blubbering, fanboy idiot quicker than you can say "Are you with me?" It should be said that Diesel lived up to his "true life" rep of being charming, funny and mucho laid back...hence OCA (one-class-act). So here he is, pushing the release of the badass Unrated Chronicles of Riddick DVD. Take a bow for the one, the only, The Diesel.

How pleased were you with the Chronicles of Riddick Theatrical Cut and what did you want to go back to in the Director’s Cut?

VIN: I was pleased with the theatrical cut and I am excited about the DVD Director’s Cut. Excited about adding story elements to the film that we weren’t able to incorporate into the theatrical experience. I think that’s what’s interesting about the fact that there’s an extended version of the film on DVD. The DVD medium is kind of defining itself as a separate medium. Unlike the VHS we use to get that were just about seeing the movie at home, the DVD experience is an opportunity to fully explore this universe, The Chronicles of Riddick universe and an opportunity to go behind the scenes and for the Director to tell the full story and not be limited to “running time”, what have you.

How important was the footage that was edited back in? I think the “Shera” stuff added a lot to the film and that the theatrical version would’ve benefited from the footage.

VIN: I think it starts to flesh out a sense of origin for the enigmatic Riddick in a cool way. The Shera character really comes in during important moments like when he’s on the run-way. In creating the story, the Shera character was designed to introduce Riddick to his “Furian” nature. So on the run-way she unleashes his radius of fury; this burst of fury filled energy which repels negative energy. You’ll see a further explanation of that in future Chronicles of Riddick pictures.

When we were creating the story, we were creating a story that would be told over three films. The Shera character is introduced in this film but is paid off in the third film if you will. The way that it’s designed, I don’t want to give too much away…in The Chronicles of Riddick 2 we go into the “Underverse” and Part 3 is that final return home to “Furia”. That’s it in a nutshell.

Are the next two films locked and definitely happening?

VIN: Nothing is locked in this world. I guess we’ll see what happens with the DVD.

Do you think people wait for the DVD because they know that there will be extra footage or a Director’s Cut? And do you think the DVD can bring a whole new life to the film?

VIN: Yeah, I think people wait for the DVD. Pitch Black was really introduced to the world on DVD; I mean how many of us actually saw the movie in the theatres? (yes we all raised our hands as Diesel laughed it up) I think that The Chronicles of Riddick is an intense ball of energy that hasn’t exploded yet and will continue on through the DVD release. There’s a sequel to the video game being made and there’s constant work being put into the franchise. I think that they’re will be the follow up; I think that you have to see Riddick go the Underverse and go back to Furia.

How much of that is riding on the success of this DVD though?

VIN: Good question; it depends on who you ask. If you ask me. We made Pitch Black with 20 millions dollars. I think that you can continue this character regardless of budget. You follow me? Will the next film be a PG, 100 Million something movie? I don’t know. Could the next film be, by virtue of the fact that it takes place in the Underverse, which is obviously going to be a lot more gruesome than New Mecca, the sequel to this would be rated R. We would return to the rated R fashion that Pitch Black was filmed in.

Was it always you and David’s idea to expand the story through video games and all other types of format?

VIN: Absolutely that was the whole idea of doing the Peter Chung homage to Riddick. That was the motivating force in creating the video game “Escape From Butcher Bay” because it would give us the opportunity to explore the back-story of Riddick. For example in the video game you lean how he got his eyes etc. The video game does a lot to flesh out the universe and the mythology. That’s why it was so much fun to do cause obviously, it's such a less expensive way to be creative.

When you were first introduced to the character of Riddick did you always feel so passionate about him? Did you always think he would have an extended life and evolve so much?

VIN: When I first did Pitch Black I was drawn to this intense character arc, this was the first character that I had seen that was this interesting. He starts out as a serial killer and then becomes the only guy that you want to save you. I thought that was a very attractive element. Once I was actually shooting in Australia, nearing the end of production, shooting the scenes when Riddick is leaving the planet, I thought: "Wouldn’t it be cool if we can follow Riddick off this planet and allow him to introduce us to this whole universe and mythology?" That concept started when we were nearing the end of the shoot on Pitch black.

Do you consider this to be your “Lord of the Rings”? Your fantasy movie you always wanted to do when you were playing Dungeons and Dragons?

VIN: Yes. This is only partially fantasy though, obviously. The kind of expertise that David Twohy has is that Sci-Fi world. So this was a fusion of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. That was the objective.

What are your thoughts on the gamble coming up with a mythology for something that no shorts will be able to pay off, that’s got to be kind of a tremendous and frightening experience at the same time?

VIN: Yes it’s thrilling and frightening. It’s thrilling because you’re really going for a story that isn’t done in a reactionary way. It’s not like we do a film and say: "Oh we made a lot of money, let’s put something together and do another one." I think we are being responsible in our storytelling by thinking of all three stories before making the first one. But there is that level of anxiety, because you get questions like: "Is the future films dependant on that?" Because it’s a legitimate question. But if you’re enjoying the creative process it’s not life-threatening to be creative.

Do you feel a responsibility to make this first film as concise and independent from the other two as possible?

VIN: I don’t, in my mind the whole objective is to try to introduce characters in this first film that don’t pay off, in a very Lucas 70’s way. They don’t pay off until later films. I like that. I t think that speaks to a well thought out trilogy. But again the film business is so arbitrary, you don’t know, I mean we made Pitch Black with a company called PolyGram.

VIN: Earlier on in your career when you were an independent filmmaker you did something incredible; like a rookie pointing to the stands you said “I’m going to hit a home run”, I’m going to hit a “grand slam”, I’m going to be the biggest “action star”. It was incredible when you first came on the scene! Now that you are, what’s different about being where you are from what you expected it to be?

VIN: Man that’s a long answer…wow. I got to tell you…a lot people tell you they love what they do but I really, really love what I do to the point where I’m borderline obsessed with what I do. It’s my hobby, it’s my lifestyle. So I actually don’t think about it as much as I probably could. I always feel that I’m behind the 8-Ball. Like I feel I should be talking about Hannibal The Conqueror already! And I feel that I have to get back and get to work to make sure that’s right. I’m in a very lucky position where on one hand I’m able to these big action films that are fun and that are empowering to some degree. You charge people up when they come into the theatre to see this whole production. But on an other level, I’m able to work with Sidney Lumet. I’ve been working with Sidney Lumet for the last 4 weeks, I gained weight, my look has changed and I cannot tell you what kind of unbelievable experience it’s been.

I’ve locked myself up in my house for four weeks because I’m playing a character that is defending himself in court but living in prison. I play a character named Jack DiNorscio. I don’t know how many New Yorkers are here but you remember the “Boys from New Jersey”? The trial that went on in the 80’s? The largest mob trial in history where 20 defendants were acquitted? That’s the story I’m doing right now. My answer is that I feel incredibly fortunate and isn’t it crazy that you remember me as the guy that said “I’m going to do all this, I’m going to do all this”. It sounds crazy but it’s what I really believed. If I die tomorrow, and you want to know the truth, it’s what I really believed. I don’t know how else to say that, I know it sounds bullshit, I know it sound fabricated when people say stuff like that but it's what I wanted to dedicate my life to…film. The making of film, the exploration of film.

What did you learn from filmmaking, working with Sidney Lumet?

VIN: I’m learning so much. He is so incredible. So demanding in some ways. We’ll do 5 to 13 pages of dialogue a day. We’ll do 7 minute talking shots, 10 minutes talking shots. He’s so incredible, he has it all mapped out in his head. What I really think is that Sidney Lumet is going to be someone we are all going to be reminded of next year when Find Me Guilty comes out. We’ve got Peter Dinklage, Linus Roach...the groovy thing about Sidney in terms of him teaching me director stuff, because he knows that I’m at heart a director and that I plan to return to directing shortly.

He’ll have me come behind the monitor and explain these very interesting, very cool shots. He’ll literally stop everything and say, “Listen Vin, I’m pulling the camera back on a dolly but I’m changing the lens so that the subject stays the same proportion in the frame but the background starts to bleed“ He’ll walk me through all these things. I used to say this about Steven Spielberg: I would have gone out to London just to get him coffee, let alone to play a role that he wrote for me. With Sidney Lumet I would be on that set every morning at 6 AM just to watch him work. He’s doing it so fast, he’s going to do this whole thing under a month, like 28 days. Every day that I go on set I feel like I’m doing on an opening night performance, its very reminiscent of the theater experience of my early years before going to Hollywood.

It’s just a dream! The NY actors are so rich! This is the only day that I left my apartment. I know that sounds crazy, it’s some form of method acting. I have been so locked on this character, it’s amazing that I’m doing anything else but reciting lines, I’m Jack DiNorscio right now, but Riddick is my baby so you got me!

What are you're feelings on the bootleg issue going on right now where it cuts in on what the movie could make?

VIN: I don’t know what to say, it’s definitely not the most drastic issue in our country but you know I don’t think anybody should be bootlegging my films. Cause I really hate that (he said that in a joking way).

I'd like to thank Mr. Diesel for not kicking my fanboy ass out the room. I'd also like to urge you all to go rent the Unrated Cut of Chronicles of Riddick if only to support my cause where I want a sequel and this DVD needs to make money for me to get it. So what are you waiting for? The Tooth Fairy?

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