All About Vin...
How old is Vin...?
Born 18th of July, 1967 makes him 35 as of 2002.
Where was he born...?
New York City, New York.
What can you tell us about Vin...?
Vin, like many of us, has a varied past, and fame and success didn't come to him overnight.
Standing at over 6'0" (6'3" according to the IMDB, 6'1" according to many fan sites - if I ever meet him in person I'll be sure to bring a measuring tape), and with a very impressive build, Vin spent a number of years as a bouncer, and when things started to get too nasty on the streets he decided wisely that it just might be time to get out of that profession!
Vin was raised by his mother and step-father along with two sisters and a twin brother in an artists community.
Vin's mother is a psychiatrist and an astrologer. It might be safe to assume that Vin has had a very good grounding in both how the mind works, and the more esoteric aspects of the Soul.
His adoptive father worked in the theatre and taught drama.
Vin grew up in the Westbeth Artists Housing Project in New Yorks Greenwich Village.
Is that all you can tell us? What about his first break...?
Vin's first break came literally thanks to a break-in. He and some friends broke into a theatre to do some damage and were stopped by a woman who offered each of them $20 and a script on the proviso they come back, pay attention, and take part in performances.
Once Vin had his first taste of acting, he realised he liked it and continued for some years as a stage actor, perfecting his craft.
At 17, presumably to pay the bills, he became a bouncer and changed his name to Vin Diesel.
In the recent issue of 'Total Film' (October 2002), Vin stated that 'Vin' came about as a nickname from childhood. He told the reporter that a lot of people get their surnames shortened to a nickname. He didn't (being Vin) state that his surname was actually Vincent, but the allusion to the fact is obvious.
In the same article, he told the reporter that he actually couldn't remember how Diesel came about, all he could remember was that it was adopted in his teenage years.
Vin Diesel isn't his real name...?
No. According to information I've been able to scour from magazines, his real name is Mark Vincent.
Do you know anything else about Vin's past...?
All I do know for certain is that Vin doesn't like to talk about his past, most likely preferring to have something in his very public life that is still simply just his. Being a public identity doesn't make him public properity!
What about his personal life...?
If there is a personal life I have no idea about it. What I do know is that Vin enjoys spending time with his friends, and kicking back, relaxing, and doing what we all like to do. From all accounts, he's a regular guy.
According to the recent 'Total Film' interview, it was mentioned that many of the people in his entourage are friends of his from his Bouncer days.
Vin stated that they keep him "grounded".
In an amusing story, he told the reporter that one of his friends has a habit of swiping the press kits that are given out to advertise his movies. He was amused that his friend was 'borrowing' the press kits to his films, when he could get the guy a box for free if he really wanted them!
The report of the interview seemed to paint the picture that Vin is just like the rest of us in many ways. He enjoys his friends, and can take great delight at embarressing all hell out of someone he considers a good friend.
What about a girlfriend or pets or something...?
As far as I know, Vin is single. He was rumoured to be dating one of his The Fast and Furious co-stars, but as far as I can tell that is over.
He does have a pet, see the pic above. A beautiful pup (an Italian Mastiff) called Roman.
What else? There must be something else? Favourite People? Bad habits? Favourite music?
The only extra tid bit I know for certain from a 'GQ Magazine' article published this year (2002 - August), is that he has one bad habit. He smokes. Cigarettes, that is! He was quoted as saying in that article that it's the "...one thing I hate about myself."
Vin also grew up loving and playing Role Playing Games, in particular Dungeons and Dragons.
After finishing High School, Vin enrolled as an English Lit major at Hunter College in New York. He dropped out (don't try this at home kids... it can lead to unemployment) after three years to further pursue his acting career.
Why did he leave...?
From everything I've come across, it seems he was seriously jack of studying! Vin chose English Lit as his major so he could learn more about writing. Maybe he simply thought he'd learned enough, and was impatient to get his life started.
Where did he go when he left school...?
Every actors promised land. The diseased and twisted merry-go-round of Hollywood, California.
After a year of trying to get parts, Vin was forced to return to New York.
How did he become such a huge star, then...?
Well, as happens to many of us, his mum saved the day.
She gave him a copy of a book called "Feature Films at Used Car Prices" by Rick Schmidt.
I get the feeling, from what followed, that that particular book became something of a Bible!
With the help of that book Vin became personally empowered to take charge of his own career. He wrote a short film based on his experiences as an actor, and called it, appropriately, Multi-Facial. This was in 1994. The film cost $3,000 US, and was filmed in less than three days!
Multi-Facial was accepted for the 1995 Cannes Film Festival where it received an enthusiastic response.
Who says good things dont come to good people?
What happened then? Did he make it big right away...?
It was a case of "Vin Diesel Strikes Back".
He took off for Los Angeles again, and raised close to $50,000 to fund the making of his first feature length film which had been an on again/off again project for years.
Multi-Facial was a short, which can be anything from ten minutes or less, up to about an hour in length.
His first feature length film, which was his very next film after Multi-Facial, was Strays, filmed in 1997.
As with Multi-Facial, Vin wrote, directed, produced, and starred in Strays.
Six months after shooting was completed, the film was accepted to the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. People liked the movie, but not enough for the film to sell as well as was hoped.
Things seemed bleak there for the trip back to New York.
But, as mentioned above, good things do come to good people.
Vin returned home to receive a phone call from of all people, Steven Spielberg.
Steven was impressed with Multi-Facial and wanted to check Vin out in person. Obviously Steven liked what he saw, because before he knew it Vin was cast in the critically acclaimed film Saving Private Ryan with Tom Hanks and Matt Damon.
Next came The Iron Giant in 1999. Again, thanks to Multi-Facial.
The rest has literally become history.
In 2000 Vin was cast in a break away role. His first lead part.
Pitch Black was a science fiction thriller with gore aplenty and a fantastic supporting cast and good visual effects.
In Pitch Black Vin played the character of Richard B Riddick, a convicted criminal. He brough a lot to what could have been a very straight forward, two-dimensional role. This is perhaps one of the reasons that Vin's career has continued to move forward and up. This quality of getting into the characters 'skin' introduces great depth and humanity to the role. No matter how good a screenplay a writer can craft, in the end it becomes the domain of two people - the actor and the director. Vin took a sociopathic character and seemed to really understand what the writers wanted. He moved Riddick beyond a simple convicted convict in the reluctant hero role, to a multi-faceted individual with complex needs and drive. Repeated viewings of Pitch Black always bring up something new in his performance.
His next role was in a very solid film called Boiler Room which is easy to miss, but if you do, you have missed out. I stumbled across it at my local video store, picked it up and really enjoyed the film.
Following that was the surprise hit The Fast and the Furious. Next in line, according to the IMDB was/is Knockaround Guys, and now of course, xXx.
But wait... there's more! Vin is already signed to do a number of additional films, including reprising some old characters.
Vin's determination, talent, and attitude has obviously left a good impression on the people he has worked with. He has a reputation for being difficult, but obviously that reputation is either more exaggeration that truth or something he has left behind him. He has been signed to reprise the role of Riddick for the Chronicles of Riddick, and the producers of The Fast and the Furious are begging him to reprieve his role of Dom, and of course he has already agreed to a xXx sequel as Xander Cage.
In addition to being a fine actor unfortunately thought of by some as not much more than walking muscle and good looks, he is also savvy.
Sequel fever is nothing knew in Hollywood, where the respect for a writer or director's vision stops and starts depending upon ticket sales. Because The Fast and the Furious did so well at the Box Office and in home video rental sales, a simple yet poignant story is being given the sequel treatment. Though this is only my opinion, I seriously believe as an ex-actor, and as a writer, that doing a sequel to that film would be a very big mistake. Some films should be left as a once off event, enjoyed, but not driven into the ground. Lightening struck once with that film, why push it and ruin what was a great ending?
It seems that Vin might see this also, possessing something regretfully unique in Hollywood - a respect for film - Vin has stated that he believes in maintaining the integrity of his work over Box Office profit. In an interview with Empire Online in the United Kingdom (thanks to VinDiesel Info), Vin stated:
"It's very tricky because there's a lot of fans who want you to make a sequel to The Fast and the Furious and don't understand that you're turning down lots of money to keep the integrity of your films alive and intact."
The Fast and the Furious was a surprisingly good film, and it can only suffer from the often trite sequel treatment that is so annoyingly popular these days. The film stood alone, and didn't require a continuation of it's story, for the simple reason the story ended in a very poignant and satisfying way. It could be said that the only real reason to do a second movie would be for profit.
Despite turning down this possible cash cow, Vin's future remains bright.
Something tells me we're going to see a lot more of Vin in the years to come.
Below you will find a list of his credits in reverse chronological order.
Dreadnaught (tentative release date: 2004)
Character: Unknown - reports he will play the Captain, and reports he will play the First Officer
The Chronicles of Riddick/aka Pitch Black 2 (tentative release date: 2004)
Role: Actor/Executive Producer
xXx the Sequel (tentative release date: 2004)
Role: Actor/Executive Producer
Character: Xander Cage
A Man Apart (2003)
Role: Actor/Executive Producer
Character: Sean Vetter
Role: Actor/Executive Producer
Character: Xander Cage
Knockaround Guys (2002 - though filmed in 2001)
Character: Taylor Reese
Fast and the Furious (2001)
Character: Dominic Toretto
Boiler Room (2000)
Character: Chris Varick
Pitch Black (2000)
Character: Richard B Riddick
The Iron Giant (1999)
Role: Actor/Vocal Talent
Character: The Iron Giant
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Character: Private Adrian Caparzo
Role: Writer, Director, Executive Producer, Producer, Actor
Role: Writer, Director, Producer, Actor
Vin has also made numerous television appearance as a presenter, or in a production of 'the making of' certain films.
For further information on these appearances, please go to the IMDB (internet movie database), and in the search engine type in Vin Diesel.