Vin Diesel Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere: ‘Pitch Black,’ ‘XXX’ Sequels In Works

Bouncer-turned-actor is one extremely busy guy.

Think Vin Diesel’s bald-pated mug has been inescapable lately? Get used to it, ’cause the charismatic star isn’t going away anytime soon.

Though he turned down a role in “The Fast and the Furious 2,” Vin Diesel has agreed to headline a series of “Pitch Black” sequels and “XXX2″ (or “Triple-X-Squared”), even though the first “XXX” has yet to be released. (Click for photos from “XXX.”)

“I don’t know when I’ll do ‘XXX2,’ ” Diesel said. “Probably early 2004 … it could be released Christmas 2004, something like that.”

Why the two-year gap? ‘Cause Vin’s a busy guy.

For starters, he’ll be promoting “XXX,” in which he plays Xander Cage, an extreme sports athlete and anti-authoritarian who’s “recruited” by the Feds for a secret mission. “XXX” was helmed by Rob Cohen, who also directed Diesel’s breakout performance in “The Fast and the Furious,” which earned Diesel an MTV Movie Award for Best Onscreen Team (see ” ‘Lord Of The Rings,’ Nicole Kidman On Top At MTV Movie Awards’ “ ), which he shared with co-star Paul Walker.

“He’s got depth and truth and acting chops,” Cohen said of Diesel. “He’s got vulnerability, sweetness and charm. And of course he’s got ferocity and anger and can be very dangerous. For the women, of course, he’s got a magnificent torso, a deep, gravelly voice, and [he gives off a] sense that he can protect them in all situations. In other words, he’s the perfect action hero/ antihero/ leading man.”

Diesel is skipping out on the “Fast and the Furious” sequel (see “Sequel Mania — The Other Attack Of The Clones” ) to start work on a series of follow-ups to “Pitch Black,” the 2000 sci-fi horror flick starring Diesel as a prisoner running amok on a planet full of nasty alien baddies. The three proposed sequels — dubbed “The Chronicles of Riddick” — will focus on Diesel’s character.

“[Universal has] opted to not just make a sequel to ‘Pitch Black,’ but to make a trilogy,” Diesel explained. “[They'll] treat ‘Pitch Black’ like ‘The Hobbit.’ You know, call ‘Pitch Black’ the prequel to this trilogy in the same way ‘The Hobbit’ is a prequel to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ [trilogy]. It’s incredible what they’re doing, what they’re coming up with.”

Diesel said that he will start working on the first film in the trilogy in November and that the movies will create “a whole new mythology. It’s insane.”

Before “The Chronicles” get going, the buff baldie will follow his round of “XXX” publicity with some promotion for “Knockaround Guys,” a movie he finished over two years ago. New Line will roll the picture out in the fall, just in time to capitalize on all of Diesel’s “XXX” hype.

” ‘Knockaround Guys’ is an ensemble piece,” Diesel said, “with great actors like Dennis Hopper and John Malkovich. It’s a low-budget film, and it’s just a solid, character-driven piece.”

The movie also pairs Diesel with Seth Green (“Austin Powers in Goldmember”), Barry Pepper (“We Were Soldiers”) and Andrew Davoli (HBO’s “The Sopranos”), who comprise a group of junior mobsters who botch their first big mission. It’s one of two projects the former nightclub bouncer has in the can at New Line; the other is, according to Diesel, “a very, very dark, introspective character-driven piece.” The as-yet-untitled flick is scheduled to hit theaters on March 7 of next year.

And that’s not all. Diesel is also attached to a biopic about Hannibal (the historical figure, not the fictitious cannibal) which he called “Hannibal the Conqueror” and said “will be action, but will also be drama.” And of course, there’s the inevitable sequel to “XXX.”

Diesel said that he can “only imagine” what’s in store for the movie both he and Cohen are calling “Triple-X-Squared.” Cohen, on the other hand, was much more forthcoming.

“[It will be] bigger, faster, louder, badder,” he said. “We’re talking about the continuing adventures of a character whose life is completely altered by this first installment and what happens when he goes home. Things don’t work out the way he expects, and he’s thrust back into a field of action.”

Cohen promised that he, Diesel and writer Rich Wilkes will all be back for “XXX2.” But in the meantime, there’s that pesky first movie to get out. “XXX” hits theaters on August 9.

—Ryan J. Downey, with additional reporting by Nick Zano