Vin Diesel has made a good living playing tough guys — sometimes in a fur coat — but now he's preparing to play a real-life badass.
Diesel is starring in and directing the movie "Hannibal," a biopic about Hannibal Barca, the third-century Carthaginian general who marched an army of elephants into Italy to attack Rome (see "Vin Diesel Transitioning From Box-Office Giant To Epic Auteur").
And if the past two months of prep work are any indication, he's taking the part pretty seriously.
"I just got back yesterday from the French Alps, where I was trekking to pay homage to the journey that Hannibal took into Italy," Diesel said. "For the past two months, I've been going around Europe and connecting to the locations that he was in. So it's been a very spiritual and important journey."
Diesel said the trip was important not only to get into character, but also to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of world history.
"If you're going to play a character that's as important as Hannibal Barca, it's important that you try to understand who he is and what he meant to the people of that time," Diesel explained. "If you go to the Iberian Peninsula, you'll find that they remember Hannibal more than any other person in history."
But it's not all historical figures and elephant battalions for Vin. He's also working on new video-game projects, including a sequel to "The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay," a game called "Secret Service" with director Bryan Singer ("X-Men" "Superman Returns"), and an untitled project with Quentin Tarantino, all through his production company Tigon Studios.
"I started Tigon Studios because I wanted to have another outlet for creativity to add story to video games," Diesel said. "What I think we're gonna see in the next few years is the film industry merging with the video-game industry to make the video games that much more interesting and satisfying, like a movie."
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