Vin Diesel Interview – FAST AND FURIOUS

     March 25, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Opening on April 3rd is “Fast & Furious” and it’s the first sequel to the highly successful franchise to feature the entire cast from the first film. While it’s taken a number of years, you’ll finally see Vin Diesel and Paul Walkerreteam as Dom Toretto and Brian O’Conner. Of course the action wouldn’t be complete without the supporting cast, so they’ve also got Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster returning as well.

Anyway, I recently attended a very small press day for the film and got to participate in roundtable interviews with most of the cast. What’s below is the transcript of our interview with Vin Diesel.

During our time with Vin he talked about why he wanted to come back to the franchise, what’s up with “Riddick” and “xXx”, and will “Hannibal” ever happen. Of course many other things were discussed so take a read below.

Finally, here’s a link to some movie clips from “Fast & Furious” and here’s the synopsis:

When a crime brings them back to L.A., fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Diesel) reignites his feud with agent Brian O’Conner (Walker). But as they are forced to confront a shared enemy, Dom and Brian must give in to an uncertain new trust if they hope to outmaneuver him. And from convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, two men will find the best way to get revenge: push the limits of what’s possible behind the wheel.

VIN DIESEL: My old cronies, how are you?

What up?

DIESEL: I know. My God what have you guys been up to?

You know, same old crap.

DIESEL: So they say, so they say. What are you doing? Staying alive?

We’re still around.

DIESEL: You’re still in the film business? You’re still hauling up here to talk to me and you talk to me so many times and you know me so well. Why do I feel this is going to go to Hannibal in a minute. You know somebody’s going to hit me with the Goddamn it—where’s my Hannibal?


DIESEL: Yes, how do you know about the Riddick? Where did I say something?

About the video game, so when you talk about the video game coming out.

DIESEL: How do you know of the video game?

If you didn’t open your mouth so much…

DIESEL: That’s the problem, I talk too much. I talk too much. They were telling me at the Hollywood Foreign Press they said, “Could we have the 5-second answer and not the 5 hour answer?”

So for this one, Vin, was this the right time for you to finally revisit this character?

DIESEL: Absolutely. The timing was finally right. What led to that was a series of events. First and foremost, I had the luxury of working with Sidney Lumet and boy does that absolve you from being too stereotyped because at least it’s on record, right? Though very few people saw the movie, it’s on record. It’s a departure from the franchise films. Finding an entry point to revisit this character is what took so long. 8 years? Because you know I’m not…I don’t just do sequels in a reactionary way. It makes a lot of money but to do another one immediately without working out the story, as you know, never worked. I take a little bit longer. I make sure that I can feel it. I make sure that there is an entry point for my character and that we have really, really, really in a real way worked out the continuation of a story. Am I idealistic and feel like sequels should be more Coppola-like? Yes. So in that I am saying when we were able to work out a continuation to this story in an interesting way that could lead to its own story, as you see in the end of this movie, I was ready to do it.

Well, Dominic, in this movie, is very much motivated by his love for Letty. How does love motivate you?

DIESEL: Well, love motivates me in everything I do. It’s funny how you say that because I was talking to my mother, who was at the screening, and she said it was interesting that Dom was doing all of this in service of love and how rare that is in a film like this–a tempo film like this. And said that because of that, he could do anything. There was nothing too great…a task for him to do. In other words, that was probably the most important aspect of my character. It allowed me to do all these…everything I did in the character and you’re with him the whole way. You would think that love is the catalyst for all art, I would imagine…or the antithesis of that hate in some way.

Well, having thought so much obviously about the character and where he ends up in the movie, he says he’s tired. He doesn’t want to run anymore and then he goes…where is he now? Where do you see him at the end? Is he still a bad guy? Does he not want to…?

DIESEL: Yeah, I don’t think Dom has a choice. I think he is that quintessential anti-hero. We’re probably not allowed to give away where the continuation goes, but I will say that in times like these…in times like this recession we’re going through there often is born the Robin Hood-esque story. These fables are born from times like these.

So you’re saying that there will be a 5th one and you’re pretty sure that that 5th one is going to happen?

DIESEL: Well, you know me.

You can say it now of course.

DIESEL: You know me. You know, I’m telling you that Hannibal’s going to be out very year and I come up…

Every junket.

DIESEL: ..And I dread the night before coming to the junket because I know it’s like…Hannibal…

Well, actually I wanted to do a follow-up on another “Fast & Furious”. Paul mentioned that you’d already talked about…you had ideas for how it could go to Europe and stuff like that, so I mean can you talk about your preparation and everything, so are you already thinking….


…after this opens, you know?

DIESEL: Yes, I’m always thinking. I was always….which you probably know about me…I think a few pictures at a time. You remember with Chronicles of Riddick I wanted to do 3 films at the same time. I’m ambitious like that, so I try to work out stories in service of what I was just talking about and in the way that I approach sequels in that Coppola way. I try to think out the story even before we go to shoot the film that’s at hand. So yes, I have been thinking about it. I actually brought up the idea of shooting both of the movies back-to-back with Universal. The President of Universal he’s like “What? We’re just getting our feet back together.”

So actually following up on that, we know you’ve been to the screening, are you excited when you saw the reaction of the audience?

DIESEL: When did you see it?

I saw it last Monday night.

DIESEL: You probably saw it in a different environment. I saw it, and Paul saw it at a Hollywood screening.


DIESEL: Hollywood screenings, let me tell you the atmosphere of the Hollywood screening. You’ve got a percentage of people there that are just wondering if they’re going to keep their job. You’ve got another percentage of people that are self-conscious about the work that they did. You have another percentage of people that are jealous of the studio that has this film that’s a hit and downplaying their excitement. All to amount to usually not an overly excited crowd. In fact, when I was leaving yesterday I was telling my family, you know, I ask one thing: Enjoy it and allow yourself to enjoy it. Don’t get hung up on the fact that you’re at the studio premiere. For some reason when people are at the studio premiere…

Well, I was at the premiere last night and it did get a good reception.

DIESEL: Well, that’s cool. It did get a good reception?


DIESEL: You’re 100% right. It did get a good reception but in comparison…

But I’d even seen it like a month before that and it got a fantastic reception from just a regular crowd.

DIESEL: That’s right. That’s the evidence. You just confirmed it. You saw the difference.


DIESEL: I don’t know why, but yeah so that’s…

Is that a relief to you? Does that get you excited though? That’s what I’m curious…

DIESEL: I’m not the studio so the studio gets excited about making another one. There’s a difference.

You get excited too, don’t you?

DIESEL: I get excited about the appreciation of the work, first and foremost. That is like when I’m thinking about going back in and doing Dom Toretto so many years later after everybody knows I said no the past 2 times, it’s loaded, right? If you guys were my reps, it would be an interesting conversation. You’d be like, “Well, I don’t know Vin. Do you really want to take that chance? You said no so many times, if you come back now, you’re setting yourself up. The odds are going to be stacked against you.” We’d have that conversation. So am I relieved that people enjoyed it? That feels good. It’s less of a…the studio deals on that (mock hyperventilating) you know of getting relieved kind of thing. Me, I revel in the idea that people appreciate the work. I revel in the idea of you know I love it when somebody says they pick up on a subtlety or a nuance or a spirit or a theme of character or when somebody can pick up on the comment on society and where we are. All those things are riveting and charge me. But not in the relieved kind of way, although as I just said 2 seconds ago, if we were all talking about this before the fact and we were all representatives, managers and agents, we’d be thinking “Huh. Do you really want to go for this one, Vin? It’s kind of, you know, you said no to the other ones. You’ve dragged it out this long and now you’re going to tell everyone you’re ready?”

If this movie is a big hit will that finally enable you to get Hannibal finally off the ground? Does that come into your thinking at all when you’re taking on a project like this?

DIESEL: Very good question. We hope, right? In theory yes, but I don’t know if it’s really that. To be 100% honest, I think, and this is really candid, I think the studio might be a little bit—as I can understand—apprehensive about giving me a budget that big to direct, so the question has been and probably what’s held back the film from being realized, do I have to direct it? And then my question…that’s the age-old question.


DIESEL: I would ask you that. Do I have to direct it or do I produce it? Get my voice on it. Put my mojo on it and let someone else direct it that a studio would feel comfortable with that size budget, understandably. I haven’t ever done something that big. I’ve directed independent film.

And an 18-minute short.

DIESEL: And an 18-minutue short. Have you heard about this new short?

Yes, we know about everything.

DIESEL: Justin calls it the anti-fast with pride.

Were you making that while you were making this? I mean is it like a…

DIESEL: The day after. The day after we wrapped here we went down to the Dominican Republic. I promised the President of the Dominican Republic while we were working on the film program….you know about the One Race Global Film Foundation Program, which is basically a foundation that I started to bring film education to underdeveloped communities and basically get inner city kids and in 4 weeks teach them how to become film-makers. All spawned from, I guess the success that I’ve had that followed “Multi-facial”, that first short film that I did. And essentially giving them a voice. Giving these kids a voice and we’ve gotten some really interesting films out of these kids and part of that in that whole thing was me telling the President I would bring a franchise film down there, which is why the Dominican Republic is even mentioned in the film in the first place. It was all part of the deal, which is why when you saw the cameo Los Bandolaros is playing when I enter screen which is so deliberate and leads into this film now that you see the film.

Now the 3rd Riddick you’ve been talking about that would be like a Rambo-esque, ergo, smaller scale Riddick, would that close the trilogy or are you still planning a 3rd Riddick after?

DIESEL: Well, you remember when I talked about “Riddick” I talked about “Riddick” as being the fellowship in the series, right? So I was using Pitch Black as Hobbitt as the book did it. The independent story that introduces you to the world of middle earth and then taking the “Chronicles of Riddick” and treating it as a trilogy that goes from the story that you saw to the Underverse and ultimately to Furia in the 3rd film.

You said that David Twohy is currently writing the 3rd right now.

DIESEL: He’s currently writing the 3rd. It’s hot. But to answer your question specifically about the scaled down aspect, yes there is a scaled down portion of this that goes back to the Pitch Black style of telling the story.

Actually my question was it’s still the 2nd one, not the 3rd?

DIESEL: Yeah. Absolutely that’s exactly what I’m saying. So if you think of Pitch Black as an introduction to the world. If you think of Lord of the Rings and I’m just using it as a parallel, you think of the Lord of the Rings as 3 books—a trilogy—you would think of the Chronicles of Riddick as the 1st in that trilogy and there’d be 2 more to follow.

What about Cohen’s talking about reviving Xander Cage, how far would that be to do since they blew your scalp off?

DIESEL: Ain’t that America? That has been…Rob Cohen found a way to…has incorporated that into the story years ago. It’s just now that he’s implementing it. It’s now that he’s using it, but it’s a good question.

Will the xXx 3 happen do you think?

DIESEL: Should I do it?

Yeah. Well, I think you should.

DIESEL: That’s all I need to hear. That’s all I need to hear. Can we give them an E.T. credit?

As far as Hannibal, I don’t know if you really answered the question, will you allow somebody else to direct it?

DIESEL: The reason why I didn’t answer the question, and you’re 100% right, wasn’t because I was skirting because I was waiting on your answer. Give me one second, wait I’m not done. Hang on.

You should do whatever it takes just to get it made I think.

DIESEL: Okay, that’s real. Any other? Talk to me guys.

I agree with that.

DIESEL: I agree, I think that’s the bottom line.

I think you should make the movie.

DIESEL: It is about it, that’s what my father would say.

Make the movie the way you want to make the movie.

DIESEL: And that’s the other thought. And it’s those thoughts that…

If you can’t get it made then what’s…

DIESEL: I know.

You’ll never be 100% happy with somebody else taking on what you’ve been working on. Find somebody who can embody what you want.

DIESEL: Once I do that, right….I don’t know guys. You’ve got to help me with this. Because if I fold…but if it’s not folding…if it’s in service of telling a great story, there’s merit to that! There’s something about that because at the end of the day you just want to see it an incredible Hannibal. You want to se it realized and you’d like to see and you hope that even if I’m not directing it, all of that work, the development that’s been put into it will shine and that you will see that and that will speak to you and the message and the integrity behind the story and the passion that I held onto and that you know has driven me to hold fast to telling that story is present. The hat trick is now that we’re really thinking about it is how can I maintain that and make a studio feel comfortable?

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