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Feature: The Chronicles of Riddick

Vin Diesel

The Chronicles of Riddick sees the return of the shadowy Space warrior with an eye for violence. We find out why Vin Diesel is pleased that he’s no hero…

Ask the very imposing Vin Diesel why it was so important to him to revisit his Pitch Black character Richard Riddick and he grins like a madman. “’Cause he’s the coolest character I’ve ever come across!” Diesel says in that deep voice of his. And what makes him so cool? “He’s an anti-hero,” replies the actor, who reprises Riddick in the long-awaited sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick. “He’s the quintessential anti-hero. We all know how much I love anti-heroes! It takes 45 minutes in the movie just for Riddick to understand the word heroism, let alone for anyone to hope he can be heroic. That’s cool. That’s real. You can invest in this guy’s spiritual growth. He’s a guy that embraces that indifference and doesn’t care what anybody thinks about it, who wants to be left alone. He’s a guy that thinks that anything that happens with the universe has nothing to do with him and he doesn’t care. That’s kind of cool!”

Does Diesel relate to his screen alter ego? “Somewhat,” he explains. “I relate to his defiance. Yeah, you know, I had a problem with authority. It’s no secret.”

Diesel plays by his own rules. He’s been a breakdancer. He’s been a bouncer. Early in his career he directed a short, Multi-facial, and a feature, Strays. Steven Spielberg saw Strays and, impressed, contacted Diesel, which led to a role in Spielberg’s film Saving Private Ryan. Soon after, Diesel voiced the part of the titular robot in animation Iron Giant and then, in 2000, his star rose further with Pitch Black, which introduced Richard B Riddick, a prisoner aboard a transport ship that crashes on a planet which, by night, is invaded by vicious, bloodsucking creatures. So the handful of survivors must rely on the enigmatic Riddick, who can see in the dark, to save them. The film, directed and co-written by David Twohy, was a sleeper hit; it cost little and grossed nearly $50 million in its theatrical run, before going on to earn millions more in its video, DVD and cable television afterlife.

Fans clamored for a sequel, but Diesel didn’t rush into it. He started work on John Frankenheimer’s film Reindeer Games, but butted heads with the late film-maker and departed the project. Diesel scored again, though, with automobile actioner The Fast and the Furious. The heist comedy Knockaround Guys, however, sat on a shelf for ages, and then bombed upon release. Spy thriller xXx, despite immense hype, wasn’t quite the hit anyone hoped for. Revenge movie A Man Apart, on the other hand, was a major flop. Going his own way, as usual, Diesel passed on the blockbuster sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious and he also declined to return for xXx2, which is currently in production with Ice Cube in the starring role. Then, finally, Chronicles of Riddick came together, with Twohy back on board as writer-director and Diesel now also serving as an executive producer.

by John Reading

Get the full interview in
Film Review (Sep)

Photo © Universal Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Film Review (Sep), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Sep)
#648, September 2004
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