With comic book flicks like “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” dominating the box office like never before, it stands to reason that Vin Diesel is smiling. Action stars may come and go, after all, but how many actors can talk comics, games and “Dungeons & Dragons” with the knowledge and enthusiasm of Diesel?
It’s no surprise then that this week finds him in sci-fi territory again, with the release of “Babylon A.D.” Diesel stars as Toorop, a mercenary tasked with escorting a mysterious woman named Aurora (Mélanie Thierry) from Eastern Europe to New York. Diesel sat down with MTV to talk up his latest film, speculate about when we’ll see Riddick don his shades again and discuss why, after many close calls, we won’t see him playing a superhero.
MTV: I saw a great deal of a “Blade Runner” influence in “Babylon A.D.” As a sci-fi fan this kind of film, this must be a little bit of wish fulfillment for you.
Vin Diesel: Yeah, sure. I’m a huge “Blade Runner” fan, and from reading the script, you know if nothing else, this is an homage to “Blade Runner.” But also for me it was a cool opportunity to work with a French auteur [director Mathieu Kassovitz] and take a different approach to an action movie.
MTV: You’ve done so many action films. How do you keep it interesting?
Diesel: You do things like this. You find things that make it unique and different. Everyone knows I love the Riddick character, and I’m always working on it. It just takes me five years to make another one because [writer/director] David Twohy and I are so precious about it. But in the meantime, it’s cool to go off and be able to work with different kinds of filmmakers and take a European approach to an action film.
MTV: You’ve made a living consistently playing a badass. Does it get harder to portray that guy as your life gets more comfortable?
Diesel: I don’t feel like I live that privileged life, for some reason, and I think it’s because I’m always focused on the work. There is this drive to always reach and make something special and make magic. I saw that when I did “Saving Private Ryan.” I had just come off an independent movie for $47,000 called “Strays,” and the next thing you know, I’m on this $70 million huge Hollywood picture with the biggest stars in the world, with the biggest director in the world. And what I found was that Steven Spielberg, just like me on that independent picture, just wanted to make magic. It didn’t matter how many records he had broken. At the end of the day, he wanted with all his heart to make something special. I think that’s what it’s about. I think once you stop having that feeling, you shouldn’t make movies anymore.
MTV: What’s next for the character of Riddick? Will we see another film?
Diesel: David Twohy right now is writing the script. The only question is whether we take a page from the “Lord of the Rings” guys and try to shoot the two chapters at the same time. There are two more in mind. “The Chronicles of Riddick” was presented as a three-part trilogy that would answer “Pitch Black” in the same way that “Lord of the Rings” answered “The Hobbit.”
MTV: What will the setting of the next one be?
Diesel: Sooner or later we all end up in the Underverse. [In his Riddick voice] Sooner or later.
MTV: You have come close to playing characters like Daredevil and Hellboy, yet still you, a huge comic book fan, have not played a superhero. Why?
Diesel: I think it’s a couple things. One is that I’ve been lucky enough to create these characters onscreen. [I'm] the Stan Lee of film, so to speak. And the other thing is I’ve been holding out. And the reason why is because I am waiting to do a film where the protagonist is the villain. I’m kind of done with the Marvel hero. What would be exciting to me — and nobody has come to me with this yet — is a film about a villain that we’re familiar with in Marvel and showing [his] complexities.
MTV: It sounds like you have someone very specific in mind.
Diesel: I have one in mind, but I must keep it close to the vest. You won’t see Vin playing the superhero.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Babylon A.D.”
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