Vin Diesel Interview – ‘Fast and Furious 6’
Action hero and tough guy, Vin Diesel, 45, returns to his franchise, Fast and Furious, in the sixth instalment in which he stars and produces. He began his career in Saving Private Ryan, and also starred in Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick, and XXX
Diesel has a daughter, Hania Riley (born in 2008) with his girlfriend, model Paloma Jimenez, but other than that, not much is known about his private life, although one of his former girlfriends was his Fast and Furious costar, Michelle Rodriquez.
Today in London he reveals his sensitive side as he talks about delivering his daughter, his undying love for his mum, and his humble beginnings in New York City.
Q: Vin in all these years, did you manage to sit Steven Spielberg through one of these Fast and Furious’ and get his opinion?
That’s a good damned question. The last time I had talked to him I had done Finding Guilty. He said, ‘Vinnie. What the fuck are you doing, man?’ I said What? He said, ‘You are confusing me.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘You do Triple XXX on one hand and then you go and work with kids on The Pacifier and then you do Finding Guilty?’ I said, ‘Did I do something wrong?’ And he said, ‘No, no, no. Keep confusing us, keep confusing us. When you stop confusing us, that’s when it’s a problem.’ I would love to know what he thinks.
Q: Did you need a lot of stuntmen in the race scenes throughout London?
There was a real need for the stuntmen to come in and do some of those long view wides of Piccadilly Circus. We only had eight minute slots to be able to race and then we would have to shut down for an hour or so and then we would have another eight minutes to do it. But it was such a big thing. So few people had ever been able to film in Piccadilly Circus and the idea of having our guys from America that are kind of urban racers in this majestic London was very cool. I do more stunts than I should do. I used to really kind of want to do everything, but once you become a father, you should think about it a little bit more before you go kill yourself in a scene. But then I find that I do it anyway.
Q: What makes you do it?
I have a problem. I have a couple of problems. The first problem is, sometimes the people that I work with throughout the process, and maybe it’s because the way I approach the characters, but they begin to forget that I am an actor. And they really begin to believe that I am Dom and that I can do, and I am willing to do these very dangerous things. (laughs) And it’s like I said, first of all, you are not going to tell everybody, ‘Hey Vin, we need you to do this,’ and you go ‘No, it’s too dangerous.’ That probably wouldn’t happen. More importantly, my biggest fault, is when I hear the word action, I am no longer here. And you see it in the work. You see it when you see the movie. The second I hear action, I can do anything. Scary and stupid probably.
Q: There’s article in Men’s Health that says you delivered your daughter with your own hands.
Yeah. Well I mean, I didn’t DELIVER, (laughter) we weren’t in the backyard! It wasn’t a farm, I didn’t go into the manger, but I damn near, yeah…
Q: Did you cut the cord?
Yes I did cut the cord, and I don’t want to get too graphic, but yes I did cut the cord. We were shooting when it started, and I am famous as you know, and so every decision I make, I have to think about and I have to hide a lot and I have to hide in shadows. I can’t just celebrate the fact that I am having a kid without having press come and try and ruin the moment or try and ruin this sacred thing. I have to be mindful of that. Not press, but the paparazzi, as you know. And so I kept it a secret and I didn’t tell anybody, and I was shooting a scene with Paul Walker, for the fourth Fast and Furious, and we were shooting the fight sequence between him and I, and we were working all day and it was rigorous and we were fighting and it was a really, really deep scene as you remember, where he says, ‘She did it for you Dom, she did it for you.’ Her water had broken already and she was at the hospital while I was shooting that scene and at the end of the day, I hadn’t told a soul because I didn’t want to jeopardize anything. I didn’t want to have cameras come into the room and all the things that you have to think about, so I didn’t tell anybody that baby was about to be delivered, my first angel is going to be delivered, and as I am about to leave set, Paul comes in to my trailer and I just had to tell somebody, and I said, ‘I have got to tell you this, I have got to go to the hospital right now.’ (laughs) What? He says, ‘I am going to tell you this man. You know, a lot of guys don’t go in the hospital, it’s too much to take to watch her, I am going to tell you this man – it’s the best thing in your life. Make sure you go in there and cut the umbilical cord and be there.’ And he was right. It was probably the best moment of my life was cutting the umbilical cord to this angel and holding this angel. I used to sing to her, but we can’t talk about that, you are going to get me all emotional. (laughter) I am away from my angel, talking to you guys.
Q: Did she come to the set?
Yes she does.
Q: Why did you cover Rhianna’s “Stay?”
Because I am crazy!!!! Why the fuck else would you do that?!!! (laughter) Love. Valentine’s Day? Haven’t you ever sung a song on Valentine’s Day? Am I the only one? (laughter) (screams) Yeah, everyone goes, ‘Why did you sing that song?’ And if anyone has seen my Facebook page, I was singing Nat King Cole (laughs) and Christmas songs three years earlier on the same page. I didn’t expect this reaction but see that’s the tricky thing, you forget as your fan base grows, when I was first doing the Facebook page, it was just a few people and it was endearing and cool and a way to say, ‘Kook, I can make myself vulnerable, just like anybody else and be funny and be silly and be human.’ But that doesn’t work when you have 40 something million people on your page and you do something like that. I should have known it was going to become a trending thing. But I can tell you this, (laughs) I don’t even know what the point of telling you about it, but don’t be surprised if that song wins an award next year. (laughter)
Q. What was your first film? Pitch Black?
Pitch Black was my first semi-starring role. The first time I got paid was a film called Saving Private Ryan. And we shot the Normandy Beach invasion in Wexford. I was 29 when I shot in Wexford and then it was actually during the weekend of my birthday and we went from Wexford Island to London to shoot. The second I got any money I immediately bought my mother a ticket to fly to Europe for the first time. When you grow up in Manhattan, I don’t know why, but you believe that the world ends beyond the Hudson River. (laughter) You don’t think that there’s anything else out there. And so it was a big deal for me to fly my mother to Europe and once I flew my mother, then every other cast member flew their mother out to the set. (laughter) And I can’t tell you, it was a dream for me, it was a dream for my grandmother, it was such a big deal. And the idea that it would be in a Steven Spielberg movie, the idea to be paid, I was doing extra work in New York. I was begging to do off-off Broadway work, I was workshopping until I was blue in the face. I wasn’t getting shit. And it wasn’t until I directed these two movies that I ever got a chance to be in this Steven Spielberg movie. But I remember this really impactful moment. I was actually talking to my mother about it recently. We were on the last day of shooting in Wexford and just as we were leaving the set, there was that bluff, obviously there’s a beach and that is the reason why you shot there for to double for Normandy, and I went up with my mother to take it all in. And we went up to the top to take one last look at it, and we were celebrating the fact that I was in a movie which was such a big deal. I mean I used to say to myself, ‘If I am not famous by the time I am eighteen, then I am going to get out of the business.’ And just nothing was happening. And I see a black car come up, drive up, and it’s on the bluff, not on the beach but on the high raised part and this black car comes up, kind of like in a movie and about 100 yards down from me, and I see Tom Hanks come out of the car and he just walks to the edge. He doesn’t know that my mother and I are 100 yards up doing the same thing. And he goes to the edge and you see him just looking out at this ocean and he’s just taking it all in like it’s something sacred to him, but that’s what I was doing in my own way with my mother. And I went up to him and I don’t know why it’s even a big deal, but there was something big about that. Oh forget it. It’s not even story worthy, look at you, bored to tears. (laughter)
Q: You mention your mother a lot on your Facebook page. What is the most important thing that she taught you?
My mother taught me so much; my mother is a rock. There’s a certain confidence that my mom has. What did I learn from my mother? What are some big ones? You don’t fuck with my mother. (laughter) You have got to respect her or she will go Irish Mafia on you fast. But my mother, the thing I learned is that she’s a stand up person. In some ways a lot of the honor that I have in my character is probably coming from my mother now that I am thinking about it. She would fight a dragon for you, she would. You do not mess with her family. She is that kind of mother. You can’t throw her off; she doesn’t have to have money. She was a woman alone with two babies. And no father.
Q: You’ve talked about your humble beginnings and now you’re a big star with millions of fans and fame. Was it tough to deal with it when it all started happening?
It was tough to give up your anonymity. You don’t realize it and you don’t realize it’s going to be part of the trade when you are chasing your dream. And then you get your dream and you realize that there’s the other part of it where you are going to lose part of your life and your anonymity and to be able to go to a store and be able to do anything, pick your nose, go to a movie, you would no longer have that beautiful sweet word. That anonymity.
Q: Are you happy with your tough guy image because you seem like a pretty sensitive guy.
I am a very sensitive guy.
Q: Are you happy with this image?
I am also a tough guy. And my mother would say, since we are talking about my mom, (laughter) my mother thinks that I became formidable because growing up in New York I became formidable to protect my sensitive side. But I wouldn’t be able to be an artist without it. So I embrace it. Maybe when I was bouncing, I couldn’t have afforded to embrace it. I had to be ready to fight every night. There was no room for that kind of sensitive thing. Although, there were moments when even while I was bouncing, I might have been a little bit more sensitive, if there were five bouncers beating up one guy, and this is not what you are supposed to do as a bouncer, but I might take the guy aside and fight with the bouncers. But that is just my family sense of what is right or wrong.
Q: Thank you.