Vin Diesel ('xXx')
"Pump Up The Volume"
Mark Vincent (he apparently got the name Vin Diesel while he was working as a bouncer) was born July 18, 1967, in New York, NY and was raised by his astrologer and psychologist mother, and stepfather; a teacher and theater director.
Vin Diesel has since starred in 'The Fast & The Furious,' 'Pitch Black' and now, of course, 'xXx'. He has also had prominent roles in 'Boiler Room' and 'Saving Private Ryan,' along with being the lead voice-over in the Warner Bros. animated movie 'The Iron Giant.' He is one of Hollywood's fastest rising stars, and one of the best paid !
Sitting down with the man himself, I first wondered what kind of physical preparation he had to go through for 'xXx'? "I started training ten weeks prior to shooting. I wouldn't have been able to do my own stunts had I not taken that time out to do the training. The first day, I'd never even been on a motorcross bike and I was already doing jumps. And I wasn't insured! I was constantly trying to sneak away from the set to practice these jumps and do things that the studio would have never let me do. Then Rob [Cohen, the director] would tell me, "You're my friend! It's not just about the film! What would your mother say?!" But it was imperative. My character is an extreme sports athlete, so I had to understand what that was like and be the best extreme sports athlete I could be."
So did your dare tell your mother what you got up to ?
"No! Mom wasn't allowed on the set !"
You come from a very artistic family. Did your parents always support your career choices, or have they encouraged you to explore other avenues ?
"I grew up in an artists' community in New York, in a building that was government-subsidised for artists. No one made any money, but they made art for the sake of art. It was quite common for kids in my environment to become artists. My father taught theatre before he had to raise a family and get a 'real job', so I was always exposed to it. My mother is the most supportive mother in the world, she's magical. A few years ago, I had just got back from LA with my tail between my legs after thinking I was going to be this big movie star and my mother gave me this book called "Feature Films for Used-Car Prices". Although this book lacked real practical advice, it gave me motivation. I knew then that it was just a matter of money and that I was going to make movies."
Have you now found your niche in the action genre, or can we expect you to surprise us ?
"I'm talking to Nicole Kidman about doing a remake of [the musical] "Guys and Dolls", and I'm playing Hannibal [the 3rd century Carthaginian General] next. The one thing I will never do is become pigeonholed. So enjoy this action film," he boldly laughs.
Do you participate in extreme sports now, just for the kicks ?
"Yeah! I didn't know much about extreme sports prior to shooting. Well, except for stupid stuff I did as a kid, like holding onto the back of a New York City cab going 60mph up Eighth Avenue on a pair of roller-blades. Not the smartest thing in the world! Now after the training I had for this film, I love extreme sports. That was part of what made me really excited about doing this film. When I first read the script, I said, "This is impossible," and then I went to the X-Games in Philly and I saw these guys doing the impossible. It suddenly made sense to me in a way that I could incorporate into the character. The objective for me, then, was to become an extreme sports athlete."
Interviewed By Russell A. Trunk
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