Urban Cinefile: MEETING MR
X - - Australisk intervju för xXx premiären
TV-intervju - Michelle R. (Letty) hos Howard Stern
13 Juli 2001
Tidningsartikel - Vin Diesel Speeds Over Hollywood's
(bara på engelska)
Michelles intervju hos Howard Stern
13 Juli 2001:
HOWARD STERN /HS:
and now the Vin Diesel movie. Whats
it called the Fast and the Furious..?
MICHELLE RODRIGURZ/ MR : (laughs) Hey, dude, do you even like him at
HS:I dont even know him. He just came into my life. I dont
even the guy.
ROBIN/ R: (laughs) Were just all of a sudden saturated in Vin
Diesel. We dont know what it is.
HS: Yeah. I mean Vin Diesel.
M: What a great Name, huh?
HS Is there any other chance that he could have another hit movie? Do
you know the dude? I mean did u work with him?
MR; Yeah, I think theres definitely a chance that.. .
R: She was his girlfriend in the movie.
HS: Oh. So you had to be in scenes with him?
HS: Was that good? Did you end up banging him in real life?
HS: Oh thats a yes.
MR: Could be. That could be very possible (laughs)
HS: Really? You became his lover?
MR: I dont know. That depends...if I remember.
HS: Did you really become is lover?
MRLwhispers) Well, I dont know , Howard. It depends.
R: Was it dark on the set. You dont know who it was?
HS No it does happen though..
MR: (acting confused)Who? What ? When ? Where? Hey, get ..!
HS: Can I ask you a question? It really is true when youre on
a movie set you do fall in love with the people you work with. Cause
its such an ideal situation. Youre on a movie set people
are kissing your ass..
Jackie: Thats very true.
HS: Yo(have no idea)
R: Theres lots of time
MR: I think its being away from home for so long
R: Yeah. Youre like a little troupe going together
HS: So did you find yourself being attracted to Vin
I mean seriously?
MR: Yeah. I mean hes a hot guy, you know. I wouldnt do
the scene if I didnt feel attracted to him.
R: What if you get cast as a love interest and you dont like the
MR: Well, Id quit
HS: Is that true?
and Ill end up in a very big lawsuit.
MR AND R laughs
HS: Is that really true? Like you would not play someones lover
, you have to be attracted to them?
MR: I have to like him in some way, shape or form if theyre going
to touch me.
MR: Yes definitely.
HS: And there were love scenes? I havent seen the movie. Were
MR: No. Nothing too explicit. Its a PG13 flick. Not that that
HS What would you do if you were cast in a movie with a monster like
me? You couldnt do it?
HS: Would it be that bad?
MR: Well, that depends, Howard. Id like to , like, really get
to know you. And if I like you then
HS: You could possibly make a movie with me.
R: How long does this movie have to take to film that you gotta get
to like him?
HS: It might take years. It could go completely over budget.
HS: So you became his lover? Are you guys engaged now or
MR: No. What are you nuts, man? Im a free spirit, baby.
HS: How did you
? Were you rehearsing and all of a sudden you found
that you wanna make love to this man?
MR: (takes a sec)No. It was nothing like that actually. I just, I just
like him a lot. I mean you know, thats it.
HR: Did you go to his house and make love to him? Did you have it on
MR(sounding invaded) You are good
HS: Im just curious. But I think thats a wonderful story.
You fell in love on your movie set.
MR: Well, I just like him a lot. I dont know about anything else.
And, umm, you know, maybe eventually well end up going that extra
HS: So you dont see each other anymore? It was only on the set?
MR: No. Were totally hanging out.
HS: Oh. So youre still hanging out?
HS: Oh! So youre his girlfriend?
MR: (unsure) Umm, I guess you could say that in a way
HS: So can I ask you a question?
MR: I dont like to call myself anybodys property, you know?
HS: I know. But I find you a very attractive woman
MR: Thank you.
HS: Obviously a lot of guys loss. To me
How long does it take
before you and the stars in a movie, like co-stars, start becoming lovers?
Like does this happen in a minute?
HS: Or does the guy have to work you a long time?
MR: I dont know man. I think it truly comes down to if I like your
ass or not.
HS: If you like my ass, could I get in your pants in a day?
MR: Ha-ha. No.
HS: No. So Vin Diesel didnt get in your pants in a day?
MR: No. Its not
not that quickly.
R: He needed to work a little bit.
HS: (teasingly, like he sees her face light up) Look at you. Look at you.
Jackie: Two days?
HS: Two days?
MR: No, man. See look at that! How long does it take to get you in the
sack , Howard?
HS: About a minute. Come on, baby. Try me. Honey, its so easy. You
wouldnt have a tough time at all.
R and MR laughs
HS: See, heres what I dont get it. A beautiful girl like you
gets cast in a movie
and like I would say Hey. Look at my co-star.
I want that. I want her
R: I have to get that!
HS: Yeah. How does that happen? Just give me that scenario. I mean its
your love story with him. What is the romance there? Are you on the set
one day and you start making put?
R: Is it the power of Vin Diesel?
HS: How did it happen? Did you have dinner? What?
MR: I think that is just basically comes down
like youre in
a scene where youre supposed to play lovers that have been together
for 6 years. Grew up together, what not
HS: Go ahead.
and just playing that gets you in a zone of
HS: Alright. So let me clarify then. Youre doing this scene on set,
were youre boyfriend and girlfriend
MR: Its a very short scene. As a matter of fact it doesnt
even take like a minute of film.
HS: O.K. You kiss the guy and realise Hey, I kind of like kissing
HS: That night do you start calling each other and say Vin,
MR: A...hell, no! Cause then it seems like youre sweating
each other. And that would not happen with either of us. Our egos are
HS: Right. So what did you do? Did you like go out to dinner or
MR: No, we just, we just, very loud when were around each other.
So that we notice each other and then like BOOM! Its
like gorillas, you know, when theyre
HS: Where were you
MR makes gorilla noises and laughs
HS: Where were you around each other? Did the cast hang around after you
guys shot the movie?
MR: Thats the thing! We mostly hung out like after shooting
HS: Where would you go?
or whenever we had a chance to hang out.
HS: Did you go to dinner?
R: Where did you shoot this film?
MR: In LA, man. Just like clubs spotting
HS: Clubs, dinner
MR: Those corny, like you know, LA parties where everybody is smooching
and talking about there next gig and
HS: Right. Its horrible.
R: So its over at peoples houses. Yeah
HS: So everyone saw you kissing Vin at someones house? Where did
MR: No! Nobody saw us kissing anywhere. I dont think
HS: Where did you go? A hotel?
MR: You see youre trying to get to the fact that we made love and
HS: Yeah. I am.
MR: thats something that I wouldnt tell you if I did
HS: Well, you obviously did.
MR: No, no.
HS: I can see it in your eyes. You did.
MR (PLAYFULLY): You cannot!
HS: Baby, Ive been doing this for
and let me tell you something
I can tell when a woman is making love to her co-star. And youre
clearly glowing when you talk about this guy
R: Do you ever think though that just because of being on the set
yeah you were playing
you grew up together and had this long-term
MR: It could be. But if the chemistrys not there then its
just like Blah
HS: Are you carrying a little Vin in your womb? Is that why youre
not saying anything?
MR: No. That is too funny. I would not like let myself
MR: Get taken away that quick.
R: You dont think that this is just a set romance?
MR: Umm, hes gonna be my friend for a long, long time. I think Im
definitely gonna know him for a long, long time thats for sure.
I dont know exactly how
if hes gonna be in my life in
an intimate way or not.
HS: Do you call each other?
MR: Yeah. We definitely do.
MR: Well, I dont know about all that
HS: Is he with other women as well?
MR: I wouldnt know. I dont pay attention to what he does in
his free time.
HS: What about you? Are you a free spirit?
MR: Im totally a free spirit.
MR: I fly and I do whatever I want
HS: I fly too, baby.
HS: Look at me, man .Im built for flying. Thats all I do.
Alright Vins real name is not Vin Diesel. I read it in an article.
Its like Larry Schwartz or something.
MR: No way!
HS: Yeah. Do you know his real name?
MR: No. He wouldnt tell me.
HS: Oh, you call him Vin
MR: Yeah. Hey-yo, Vinnie!
HS: You call him, Vin Diesel
MR: Yeah. I dont call him by his last name.
HS: Alright ,lets go to Mike Walker.
'Fast and Furious' Vin Diesel
Speeds Over Hollywood's Color Line
BET.com Arts and Film Critic
He plays Italians, robots [pågående diskussionen angående
om han ska/inte ska vara med i Terminator 3] and sci-fi criminals.
But the real question is, just how Black is Vin Diesel? Peep how this
actor's multi-racial looks get him some of the roles Denzel, Wesley and
others can't get.
Posted June 25, 2001 It was a big weekend for Vin Diesel. His
new movie, "The Fast and Furious," took in an impressive $41
The first time you saw him in a big movie, he played a young, brave Italian
in "Saving Private Ryan." And then in the next flick, "The
Iron Giant," he performed behind the scenes as the basso, gravelly
voice of the animated star.
But you're probably not sure what you were looking at. He seemed white
enough to be Italian but Black enough in "Boiler Room" for the
White boys to call him a nigger. And "Pitch Black" offered a
long, close look at the 32-year-old native New Yorker. (And the looking
isn't bad, ladies) That's not just a deep tan. Look at that nose and those
lips. And maybe those Steven Spielberg folks knew how to work wonders
with a razor and a combat helmet but the clincher here is the hair. It's
not that crew-cut White boy fuzz on the sides. It's not that Puerto Rican
curly-type thing. It's that close-cut grain, that fresh-from-the-corner-barbershop
grain, that Vincent Carter grain, your brother's grain.
Diesel is living La Vida Multicultural, which, it turns out, might be
the same as La Vida Loca.
"I've been presented with some interested offers-like to play a
skinhead [in "American History X"] he says, sitting in a room
at Washington, D.C.'s Four Seasons Hotel. "There's something cool
about this kind of ambiguous, chameleon-like ethnicity. I try to think
back to what actor has played all these different kinds of roles and I
can't think of any, can you?
"It's very fascinating," he adds. "A man of color is being
exposed to so many different opportunities. Hopefully, it says something
about my acting. Hopefully, ideally, that's what I want it to do."
Diesel was raised by artsy parents in New York. He doesn't like to get
too specific about his background. He's Italian and a lot of other things.
He's never met his biological father but was raised since the age of 1
by a Black stepfather.
"We're going to get to a place in our culture where I think there
will be a lot more ambiguous people," he says, adding a quote here
and there from Sidney Poitier or Martin Luther King, Jr. to reinforce
his point. "I've noticed that people feel comfortable with me or
they feel uncomfortable with me. They either adopt me - whether it's any
kind of nationality--Italian, Latin, Black or you name it. They either
feel comfortable with me or don't feel comfortable with me."
It's not like Diesel is trying to pass. Pass as what? Himself? He doesn't
consider himself Black or White. He's in that multicultural zone. He rejects
that "one-drop" rule of this country. When it comes to acting,
he has had to sort of go White to be able to come back to being Black.
Maybe one unanswered question is this: Once seen in this country as Black,
can he go back?
A few years ago, he wrote, directed and starred in a funny and poignant
film, "Multifacial," about a young actor of mixed-race heritage
who goes about the task of auditioning for parts. At the first gig, he
dons a hat (to hide that grain!?) and plays a Brooklyn (or New Jersey
or Philly) thuggy Italian. At the next audition, he's rejected by a Black
casting agent as "too light." Some other Black folks are looking
for more of a "Wesley type." Then he plays a Latino, but gets
caught ass-out when he can't speak Spanish. It goes on and on, ending,
finally, with the young actor sitting in a diner where the White woman
behind him orders a coffee that's "not too light, not too dark."
His own personal story picks up from there. Spielberg saw "Multifacial"
and wrote a part for Diesel into his epic, award-winning film about World
War II. Since then, opportunities have continued to come Diesel's way.
Of course, there is the matter of his name, He wasn't born Vin Diesel.
"Well the name is really simple," he says. "It's not the
name on the birth certificate. Honestly, it's in line with how so many
of my idols changed their name just a little bit, just enough to feel
comfortable with where they are, to feel comfortable with how they're
"It's unnatural to have your name be that big, that larger than
life," he adds. "There's a reason why so many actors, like Tom
Cruise, why their names have been altered a bit. I think it gives you
just a little breathing space. It doesn't put your whole history - like
what hospital you were born at, the whole thing, on record.
It doesn't make your mom a public subject. It gives you a little space.
And being an actor and having your name up on the screen or a big poster
is a little impersonal in a way. Unless you're born Jesus Christ, you
don't need your name that big."
Diesel grew up in Lower Manhattan with his sister, an artsy dad and a
mom who worked as an astrologer. (He's a Cancer with Scorpio rising).
His stepfather taught theater when he was young. He was riding his banana
seat bicycle around one day with his friends when they decided to stop
at old theater, go inside and start tearing up things.
A woman in the building stopped them and wound up giving him a part in
a play about dinosaurs. And though he's plied other trades - like being
a bouncer for 10 years at New York clubs like The Tunnel, 1018 and The
Grand --- he's had the acting bug ever since. And, probably like every
little boy back then riding banana seat bikes, he's always wanted to be
an action star.
Well, this weekend Vin, (Or Vincent or Vinny or whatever your name is),
you got it brother. Be an action star - in big, bold, living color.
DIESEL, VIN: XXX
MEETING MR X
Doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, kicks butt and has a career path
that includes not one, but two movie franchise characters, the latest
being Triple X, the secret agent and reluctant hero made for our cynical
times. Andrew L. Urban meets Vin Diesel – alias XXX. (Mr X to you!)
Vin Diesel is sitting in a small armchair facing the door
as I walk in for our interview, the hotel room looking extra spacious
with the bed taken out. It’s late afternoon on the second day of his Sydney
media tour and as I approach, he drops his head back on the chair, eyes
closed, mouth open, feigning sleep. But he bucks up, stands, we laugh
and shake hands. He’s tall – just over 6 foot – but not as bulky as he
looks in XXX.
On a glass coffee table in front of him is a large cup and a couple of
silver coffee pots. I get a beer. “I haven’t had a drink in three and
a half years,” he says as an aside. It didn’t give him a good look, alcohol.
So I ask how he gets his kicks. He shrugs and grins….a pause: “Er … kicks
? Do movies…” he laughs, and it’s more like a question. Obviously he either
has no down time or it’s not wise to talk about it publicly. “Thank God
I’ve got these movies that are fun and I can do things, like go on a 10
week boot camp – that’s fun. It’s a lot of work, sure, with an 80 day
film shoot and tack on another 10 weeks of training, you’re looking at
8 months of non stop, every day Triple X. But that’s what you gotta do
if you want to make a really exciting film.”
The first thing that strikes you about Vin Diesel is his immediacy: he
engages in the interview without needing a dance. He is serenely comfortable
in his self, but not so much as to be obnoxiously egocentric. In Triple
X, he plays a seriously confident thrillseeker, Xander Cage, who makes
videos of his death defying feats – not for his own ego, but to sell.
Bending and breaking the law, he attracts the attention of the National
Security Agency’s Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) who’s looking for
someone just as lean, mean and capable of dealing with Anarchy 99, a group
of dangerous thugs in Prague, led by Yorgi (Marton Csokas) and his edgy
girlfriend Yelena (Asia Argento). Nothing less than the fate of the world
is at stake, and Xander has little option but to agree to the job, or
go to jail. That’s how agent Triple X is recruited.
Much of the film’s appeal – and its original take on the secret agent
formula – is due to the character’s background and persona. James Bond
he ain’t; if there’s an echo anywhere that resonates with this sort of
story, it’s in films like The Dirty Dozen (1967) where men who are otherwise
due for (or already in) jail are utilised by the authorities for dirty,
undercover work. Perfect for our cynical times. Any softening of the Xander
Cage badass persona would undermine the character’s core appeal to today’s
main film consumers, Gen X who would not be as ready buy a made-over Xander
with a conscience and a desire to do good in the world. How can such a
character be retained.
"a reluctant hero"
“That’s the key. That is the thing we’ll have to pay attention
to. He’s going to have to remain a reluctant hero,” says Diesel, his voice
rumbling like a large …er…diesel engine. “And I think the idea is to make
it part of the charm of the next film,” which Diesel will again have a
hand in producing. “You’re 100% right: it’s critical. We have to keep
Xander Cage, by the way, was not born fully formed in the original script.
Vin Diesel had a lot to do with the character’s final form. But that’s
par for the Diesel course on movies these days. He never did things by
halves, and his personality is powerful and robust enough to make a difference
when it comes to getting a movie project developed to fit his collar size.
“To play a character right,” he explains, “you have to gravitate towards
the character, but the character also has to gravitate towards you. You
have to pull the character to you, as much as go towards the charcater.
You have to become the character, the character has to become you…So I
have a great level of influence, which is why I’ve started producing these
films, to legitimise that influence.”
XXX is the first of a franchise; it was always intended to be. “In order
to create a franchise, I think generally you want to plan that, prior
to shooting the first picture. I’m not a huge fan of making a film and
if it’s successful going back and saying, oooh, let’s make more out of
this. I would rather plan it out and make it clear what our objective
is. With Triple X, our objective was to create a character that could
become a character we’d want to see again and again in different situations.”
So Diesel is already working on that. (I didn’t want to risk asking if
the next Xander Cage movie would be called XXXX …) But he’s also working
on the upcoming movie, Riddick (in 2004), a film taking his Pitch Black
character, Richard B. Riddick, on another outing. How is he going to maintain
two movie franchises? Diesel reacts with a physical joke, clenching both
fists, scrunches his face, eyes closed and shakes in alarm for a few seconds.
“Aaaaahhh….well, that’s why I’ve turned down other franchises, I can’t
do too many of them. Triple X is the action/spy genre franchise, that
could last ….well, forever. Riddick is in the sci-fi genre, and I didn’t
want to do a sequel to Pitch Black, but what is fascinating is recognising
that we might have tapped into something with this character, at the beginning
of a mythology that is accessible for our generation. For today…
“So instead of doing a sequel in the conventional studio sense – what
was really appealing to me was creating a trilogy with the character.
In the same way that Lord of The Rings is a trilogy that incorporates
the tale of the Hobbit but doesn’t demand that you know the Hobbit. Pitch
Black will be independent of the trilogy about Riddick. I think there’s
been a void in mythologies on film…in the 70s we had Star Wars….in literature
after the war we had Tolkien’s novels, that was kind of our mythlogy.
And there isn’t a mythology done with real balls – and that’s we plan
In a relatively short career to date, Diesel has amassed
enormous kudos. And an extensive list of key figures who’ve helped and
influenced him. “So many key figures,” he sighs with wonder. “So many
people that go uncredited that are all part of it. So many…I think about
it all the time. We’d be talking with friends, or having dinner, and I’d
think of one or another important figure in my life. Teachers ….for example,
who’ve said the right things that have stuck with me. You know, a teacher
who taught me how to write…” [Diesel spent three years at Hunter College
majoring in English before succumbing to the lure of the professional
“I remember how he started an essay about capitalism with an opening sentence
something like, ‘The sound of Scottish bagpipes bring to mind…’ and I
remember how it made me feel. It made me feel liberal in my writing, it
broke down walls. You could write about capitalism and start with bagpipes
– or floating comestibles, as he put it! And I remember every acting teacher,
Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg, my father….a woman called Carol Ferrante,
without whose support and belief I might not be here today…and Crystal
Crystal Fields was the first. Diesel broke into theatre at the age of
7. That should read: Diesel broke into a theatre, at the age of 7. He
and some friends broke into a New York theatre to vandalise it. A woman
stopped them and offered them each a script and $20, on the condition
that they would attend everyday after school. The woman was Crystal Fields.
From there, Vin's fledgling career progressed from the New York repertory
company run by his adoptive father.
Later, when his first attempt at being a movie star flopped (his theatre
training held him back in L.A.), his mother gave him a book called "Feature
Films at Used Car Prices" by Rick Schmidt. The book encouraged him to
make his own movies. He wrote a short film based on his own experiences
as an actor, called Multi-Facial (1994) which he shot in less than three
days at a cost of US$3,000. The film was invited to the 1995 Cannes Film
Festival, and when Spielberg saw it two years later, he called Diesel
to ask him to join the cast of Saving Private Ryan.
“Then there are the friends you see in the hallway,” he says motioning
towards the corridor outside where a small group of people usually called
minders were mingling, waiting for me to finish, among them George Zakk,
who is executive producing Riddick with Diesel. (I had already spoken
to George, who was discussing the shoot, complaining that they couldn’t
get a booking at Fox Studios in Sydney, which is where Diesel was desperately
keen to base the production. Too many Star Wars and too many Lord of the
Rings bookings.) “Seven years ago, George was sleeping on someone’s couch…”
His team has been around a while, and they’re solid, as they say on the
His list of thanks continues to Robert Redford, “for championing my film
at Sundance,” (Strays, 1997) “and the investors in that film who came
up with extra money to help me finish the film…and so many more…”
My beer’s finished and Diesel has a few things to do so we have to wrap
the interview. I ask him one last question: does he have any fears, does
he have flaws? “Hmmm,” he nods (fatigue is taking over), “I have many
fears and even more flaws. Which is why I probably gravitate towards flawed
heroes. Because it’s the one thing I can wrap my head around. I think
people can learn from them…and I think when some kid is watching Xander
Cage, as much as an action film that it is, this is a guy that doesn’t
drink alcohol, a guy who looks down on someone for smoking cigarettes.
Heroism on film is a tricky thing these days … hero figures are rare;
and to be able to relate them, that’s the key.”
Published September 12, 2002 - Andrew L. Urban - Urban