'Riddick's' Vin Diesel talks integrity and going 'R' in a PG-13 world
DIESEL: That's cool. You see this guy? That's why I make these movies, and that's why we do those things, because somebody's paying attention. That's my motto about Hollywood and films, continuing these franchises. There's two lines of thought in Hollywood, one is the audience doesn't give a fuck – excuse me, it's late, I'm in Riddick mode, you're lucky I'm not killing you guys - sometimes Hollywood makes these movies, you can apply it to sequels, and the hotshot producer though is, "the audience doesn’t care," and thus the people making those movies in a reactionary way don't mind running the risk of patronizing its audience.
Then there's that worldbuilder, that D&D player that's really meticulous that believes the audience does care and can draw the similarity between Riddick's headdress and the headdress worn by Linus Roach who reveals in one moment that he is a Furyan that went the wrong path. It's very subtle, but just the fact that you mention it means that it was worth the weeklong dialogue about the construction of one little piece of a whole Necronic Lord Marshall armor. It's a testament to… I wish the wardrobe department and other producers were here to hear that question to verify, you know.
Can you talk about how crazy the stunts and fight sequences are in this movie and how you amped them up from the last one?
DIESEL: They are crazy. I don’t know if I’m exactly thinking…I guess I should always be thinking how to make it better; I’m looking for a truth in the choreography and I’m looking for integrity in the action. I don’t know if, necessarily, I’m so concerned about going bigger or better or one-upping so much. Another good point about Hollywood today is that there’s that approach that people think that you have to go bigger and better. I’m going through that right now with Universal about something else, but the thought that you have to go bigger and better is the approach.
There are some people, like myself, who feel like an honest continuation of a story is the most important thing and the most rewarding thing. In a day and age where film has become this episodic medium in spite of itself…we grew up with "Goodfellas" and ten years later we get "The Sopranos." When "Goodfellas" came out, the great actors of that time were saying, “Isn’t 'Goodfellas' amazing?” I’m at a lunch with Tom Hanks and he’s telling me, “You’ve got to see this show 'Sopranos.' It’s amazing!” It’s really subtle, but it’s speaking to today’s film-going audience that is much more receptive to an episodic storytelling style.
I still like when Riddick kicks some ass though.
DIESEL: You sure do. [laughs] And so do I. If you asked anybody else, they’d tell you it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. I guess, for me, I try not to get too distracted by just the gratification of it being bigger and better, but trying to find the subtleties and the nuances that explain this evolving character.
David [Twohy] mentioned that there was a lot more pressure when you’re doing the second "Chronicles of Riddick" because there are so many people that have opinions because there’s so much money involved. Is there something nice and more enjoyable about making it at a stripped-down level like this, more like "Pitch Black" than a big, blown-up studio, $100 million thing?
DIESEL: Well, the head of the studio was here yesterday and looking at some dailies and just went, “Damn, Vin. This is the future of making movies.” I still don’t know what she was talking about, but I imagine she’s on to something. There is a freedom…when you go in and you say, “We’re going to make it like this. We’re going scale. We’re going rough, rugged and raw. It’s rated R. We’re going bare bones, in some ways.” The freedom of that is that you don’t have to make a movie by committee in the way that studios make movies.
It’s not a good or a bad thing. Sometimes I actually miss that. Sometimes I embrace…I think David’s more renegade like that and wants to be his own person; that’s more of a director’s thing and a director’s fantasy. A lot of times, I would be the first to, say, feel the absence of a studio. I went and got a deal, a bungalow, over at Universal because I actually like that partnership, I like having people double-checking everything and putting up a fight for their own cause or their own reason. I appreciate that. But, you’re 100% right. There is definitely something attractive and definitely something fun about making a movie without parents anywhere around.
Can we go back to something you were talking about before about integrity? Could you see yourself ever doing one of these movies without David? Or are the two of you joined at the hip as far as this franchise is concerned?
DIESELl: I put nine years on saying that I’d wait for David. Anything I say could be bullshit, but nothing speaks volumes like the fact that I waited nine years and bet on that horse.
Can you talk about your working relationship with David? What’s your dynamic? Obviously, you being a producer, too and two strong personalities working together…
DIESEL: Sure, sure. When we were doing "Chronicles of Riddick," there were other directors being presented that the studio wanted to go with. The thing about "Chronicles of Riddick" is, you need to have a director who has a certain amount of ego about the property. If you ever fell prey to a studio’s idea of interchanging a director for something like that, for that property, you could get a director to come in that could be cool at setups and be cool at giving you flash and be cool at delivering a polished movie that’s in focus, but you would lose so much by not having somebody in that chair with a huge ego about the property and a huge investment in the property and claim about the property, that it was always me backing the David Twohy of it all.
What it provides for an experience like this is incredible shorthand because you know you took the nine year journey with somebody. That’s an incredible place to be, because you come to work and every idea and every thought you have and every consideration you have, the person believes in their heart that you only want them to succeed and you only want them to do the best work they ever did, and that’s about to be what happens.
When you see this movie, you’re going to see a David Twohy that you have never seen before. You’re going to see a movie that’s going to blow people away. It’s just going to be a guy graduating, and graduating and knocking it out of the park. That’s exactly what I was telling the studio yesterday. I mean, award-winning. If he’s not acknowledged on some kind of award level, I don’t care if it’s a Fangoria award, he is going to be acclaimed off this film.