First published on 23 Aug 2013. Updated on 29 Aug 2013.
The Vin is back, reprising his role as Alpha Furyan warrior Richard B Riddick, in Riddick, the third instalment of the sci-fi trilogy that began with Pitch Black (2000) and continued with The Chronicles of Riddick (2004).On the set of the new film, Diesel tells Time Out about life back when he wasn’t so macho and why he didn’t want to delve into Riddick’s dark world before the birth of his son.
Vin, what is it about Riddick that people love?
This is a guy who really wants to kill you but ends up, somehow by virtue of the story, servicing some good in spite of it, and I think the audience appreciates a classic anti-hero in that sense.
Why are you so attached to the character and the films?
I imagine it has something to do with this quest for identity that he doesn’t realise that he’s on and I guess there’s some similarity between my own historic quest for identity. There is always something I learn about myself when I delve into the character. There is always something therapeutic. I was a thespian long before I could bench press 100 pounds. Before I was a bouncer, before I became athletic and before I became this macho New Yorker, I was just a kid doing the Charleston up on 86th Street in New York City.
You asked your fans online: “do I want to go back to this dark place?” Were you at all reluctant to come back to the series? Or is that just for show?
No, it’s actually 100 per cent right. In fact, I was supposed to go back to Riddick before Fast Five and then my son was going to be born and I couldn’t play him while introducing a child into the world. It’s just too dark a character – walking around with thoughts that are too dark, too detached.
Is that because you get so in the moment?
It’s a little difficult to leave a character at work and there is a very cold detachment that happens with Riddick. I get in the moment so much that I don’t remember what I do afterward. I try to make the situation, the setting, or the set or the sequence as safe as possible, because once the director says “action” I don’t know where I’ll be.
You also acted as producer on Riddick. What did you have to do to save this movie when the project looked like it might not happen?
Thank god I have a little clout over at Universal. I guess it was really, really important to make sure that Fast Five got the attention that it did because that would allow the studio to see that I could make them a profit as a producer.
Considering all the challenges of making this movie, did you and director David Twohy have something to prove after The Chronicles of Riddick?
Somebody on my Facebook page said “please make Chronicles of Riddick! You can’t end the story there.” Without knowing how hard we’d been working for the past decade to make that a reality. They said, “I bet each one of us would put ten dollars into pre-buying a ticket,” and something about that was so endearing it strengthened my conviction to make this movie.
For fans that loved Pitch Black and may have been a little disappointed with the exuberance of The Chronicles of Riddick, how would you tell them to come back now?
I make movies with my heart, I don’t make the movies for award shows – all those are bullshit. I haven’t seen shit in the award shows that means a damn thing to anybody. Nobody has. I mean, we’re not moved, we’re told what were supposed to like, there’s nothing that’s driving us and making us feel like “whoa, I’m in that movie”. I make movies for that audience, for escapism, for true, true escapism.
On a side note, we hear you were a Dungeons and Dragons fan back in the day.
I played Dungeons and Dragons in a serious way into my early thirties. I wasn’t bouncing, you know, the thing I loved to do the most was, you know, hunt women…
Interesting choice of words.
…I was this romantic in New York City about women. But the only thing in the world that could trump that was an all-night (D&D) session. There was a cop that played, there were musicians that played, there were caterers that played, and we would all play around this table. It was escapism at its best. I wasn’t so into drugs – D&D was a drug.
Riddick screens from Thu Sep 12.