Did you have to push for that? Did they want that?
DIESEL: Oh my God, of course they wouldn't, nobody's doing them. You can't count on your hands a bunch of rated-R movies that are getting a lot of play. They're so far and few between. In fact, we were victims of that in going the studio route with "Chronicles of Riddick". Budget went up, and we went into that film we were going in rated-R, and the first thing taken out was rated-R. You want to spend that kind of money, you want to expand the mythology like that, you have to reconfigure the way you're going to produce this movie and make it PG.
Some people argue, "Hey, there's the 'Dark Knights' that are PG but pushing the R envelope," but it does mean something. It means something in your approach to making a movie. There's something appropriate and liberating and honest and free about going into a picture like this and being able to make it a rated-R picture and not have to comply with an understandable studio mandate of PG filmmaking for the blockbusters in Hollywood.
In the first movie Riddick goes from bad guy to good guy, and in the second he goes from good guy human to more than human with powers. What's the evolution in this movie, how does he evolve?
DIESEL: What does happen to Riddick? Well I don't want to give too much away because you're tapping into the juicy stuff, but the fun part of this Chronicles is the freedom that we maintained to dance between the mythology and a cult classic, high tech and low tech, sci-fi and fantasy. If you follow the mythology, you would assume you would have to be in the Underverse in this movie, you're expecting to go to the Underverse.
What's fun about the design of this film is that's kind of thrown out the window after a series of events. You're thinking you're going to be in the Underverse leading a huge army and very quickly a couple minutes into the picture is you realize you're fighting for your life, you're left for dead on a planet again. It's a very creative construct that David Twohy and I worked on which is playing on the idea of having so much power, that fat feeling you get from having too much power and the need to return to the animal side. We used taglines like "Jeremiah Riddick" because we scale it back so much and distill it. It's something we take pride in, because you have films in the Chronicles that are isolated and contained like "Pitch Black". This might even be more contained because it's a guy struggling to survive after being betrayed by the power he was just given.
You're a big "Dungeons and Dragons" fan...
…and you love worldbuilding…
DIESEL: I do. Real worldbuilding, by the way. You hear a lot of directors talk about how they "build worlds" but this is the real deal and you can tell.