by R.C. Samo
Vin Diesel wears many hats in the film industry, actor and producer seem to be the big two at the moment. Diesel, who used his home as collateral to fund the third installment of the Riddick series spoke candidly about the project.
Question (Q): You have a trilogy and made the movie you wanted to make. Are you pleased with the final result or are you more hungry to do more science fiction?
Vin Diesel (D): I would love to do more science fiction. We have another project at Universal called, Soldiers of the Sun that’s very interesting and it’s another opportunity to go into that genre. I’ve been thinking about that lately. The reality is, I always envisioned the Riddick franchise as a continuing mythology and that there would be many other films to follow.
I do feel that I answered the growing request from the fans of making another Riddick, it was one of the three promises I made on the social media network. One was the return of Letty (Fast and the Furious 6), the second was, the resurrection of Riddick and reawakening that mythology, and of course the third one you all know, was Hannibal the Conqueror, which is the one promise I haven’t delivered on yet, but I will.
Now that I have kids, it’s a little bit trickier to watch Riddick, we were planning on making Riddick before Fast 5, but I didn’t think it would be fair to the child and to the fans to go to that dark place while bringing a life into this world.
Q: How did you prepare for the role of Riddick, this go around?
D: It is a dark place to go to to play the Riddick. It is very rewarding to make the movie, but playing the character is a lot more difficult because it takes so much more preparation. For this version, for where Riddick is now in this movie, I went into the woods for four months and prepared by basically being a recluse. It was so important to get that core character correct so I can could easily tap into it while maintaining some circumspect view of what was going on while producing the film as well.
Q: Because you were a producer on this, how difficult was it to be the boss with your cast mates and switch out between doing a scene with Katee Sackhoff and when to be the producer?
D: I try to create an environment when we step on to set, we are all in character. It’s that funny old Dungeons and Dragons thing, there would be all of us around the table and every-now-and-then, someone would say something random like, ‘Oh, I’m tired, I might just take a nap,’ and the DM (Dungeon Master) would say, ‘Everything you say is in game,’ which is the similar approach we took to making this movie.
When you come on set, everything should be focused around your character and stay in the pocket as much as possible. Every actor has their own process and for me, I have to stay in the pocket as much as possible. So when I’m on set, I’m in character and I’m not thinking like a producer. If I am not on set in make up and wardrobe and all those things and I’m just coming on set the moments that I’m not shooting, then I’m able to be the producer.
This was tricky, it wasn’t like being the producer on Fast and the Furious, this was something that if it didn’t work, I would have lost my house. Everything in my life was leveraged to make this movie (Riddick). The stakes were higher than any producer I know. I was so committed to answering the request of continuing this character, the only way I could pull it off was by leveraging everything.
Q: Since this was an independent production, was this the way you always envisioned you had to follow the Chronicles of Riddick or how has that evolved?
D: It isn’t the story I always envisioned to follow the last chapter of Chronicles. When we first gave the script to the studio – well what part of what I had been trying to do with the studio, and been very successful with the Fast franchise, is to create movies, while simultaneous thinking about the succeeding chapters and how each film will speak to one another. That felt like the challenge we worked towards.
In the last millennium, we just put out sequels and didn’t expect properties to grow, we expected them to fizzle out and exploiting a brand and that’s why I turned out all those sequels to films that I turned down because I didn’t feel they were approaching that with that level of respect to an overall chronological story.
So when we were doing Chronicles of Riddick back in 2003, David (Twohy) and I put together three leather binders and each leather binder had a lock. We gave it to the head of the studio and we gave them one key, on the first binder we gave them it said ‘Core 1’, the second said ‘Core 2’ and the third binder said, ‘Core 3.’ At that production level and the money we were spending at that point, we were going to the underverse for Core 2 and Furya for Core 3.
When years and years had gone by and we weren’t delivering, we had to find a way to tell the next chapter to continue the story, the mythology, even if weren’t going to get the size budget we had with Chronicles of Riddick, luckily for us, there was an outcry from the social media to make this Rated-R, which did two things.
- It ruled out all possibilities of a studio backing, as you may have noticed, Rated-R movies are few and far between nowadays. It meant we had to take a more independent route. 2) I went to Europe and presented what this film was going to be, got foreign money to be the bulk of the financing of this movie. It was up to us to take these limited means and tell a story on these means.
Riddick opens nationwide Friday, September 6, 2013